Martini Media was an ad network.
The consumer internet was still gaining steam when we started in 2008. While there were portals like Yahoo!, the powerful front-end aggregation effects of mobile were not at all yet clear. So, niche websites (rather than niche instagram accounts) had big hope.
Martini built ad technology and an ad network focused on the affluent consumer and the luxury advertiser, both of which were just coming online. Revenue grew quickly via a strong sales team, and the publisher network comprised over 1,000 sites. Martini also built a programmatic ad-selling operation.
The company faced two challenges, however: (1) the network effects of an ad network are not strong, because there’s no lock in on supply side and no switching costs on demand side (better put: publishers want to work with multiple revenue providers, advertisers use many different sources of ad inventory), and (2), given this, the company over-raised (~$30M in my time there). We could have done something closer to bootstrapping and ended up much more successful.
Personally though, I worked my butt off, joining prior to the close of Series A, through Series C. At age 23, it was my entry into digital media monetization and startup life. Of the many things I learned, here are a few:
- How the media and advertising industry work, and what digital was going to mean for both.
- How to sell, from two of the best: Skip Brand (CEO) and Greg Coleman (BoD). Crafting and evolving a pitch, performing in the room.
- Managing a sales team, and the interface between a sales team and a product-engineering team in both directions (product marketing, product management).
- What the VC thing was all about - the networking, pitching, timing, fake yes's, fake no's, being in a board meeting, etc.
I ran the product management, product marketing, sales, and BD functions at various points in my tenure, departing in 2011 with an early understanding of the company's VC-funding predicament.
Partial list of awesome people you should know about from this: Ryan Kiskis, Phil Matsuhashi, Manu Koenig, Brooke (Halenza) Frederick, JD Ambiti, Maly Li, Irene Yuan, Adam Chandler, Skip Brand