Though Nikhil Sethi's first two attempts at startup life didn't hit it big, they provided him with an idea for his third: How do you build a following and marketing strategies for a business on different social networks with different use cases? With the help of his co-founder Garrett Ullom, Mr. Sethi created Adaptly to attempt to solve that dilemma.
The startup's products aim to help brands do three things: build followings on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter; create appealing content for their audiences; and run cohesive advertising campaigns across several networks despite their different ad formats.
As CEO, Mr. Sethi spends a good chunk of his time educating both current and prospective clients from the CMO level down to the junior media planner on why they should care about the potential of marketing on social-media networks and how to value those campaigns. Today, Adaptly has amassed $13 million in venture funding, is 70 employees strong and is competing for ranging from $2 million to $5 million a pop, Mr. Sethi said.
Social advertising technology company Adaptly has added Interclick founder Michael Katz to its board. Katz recently left Yahoo under tense circumstances, as part of a larger company advertising reorganization. That aside, Katz is a well-regarded entrepreneur and innovator in the ad tech space; he took Interclick public and sold it to Yahoo for $270 million in late 2011. Adaptly works with a range of big brands, using a consolidated platform to complete a social media ad buys across multiple social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The New York-based startup has raised about $13 million in funding so far.
When we wrote about 2010 Northwestern University graduate Nikhil Sethi last year, his company, Adaptly, was in expansion mode. Adaptly automates advertising purchases across social media websites. The startup had just moved out of Sethi’s cramped Manhattan apartment into a 1,500-square-foot loft office in New York’s Flatiron district, while catering to dozens of corporate clients, including PepsiCo and Zales jewelry stores. Sethi told us he was set to bank $10 million in revenues for 2011, with projected quarter-over-quarter growth of 70%.
In the world of social media and social networks, native advertising models are taking over. Anything I can do as a consumer – tweet, like, share, stumble, watch a video, comment – is reflected in the possible paid media opportunities. If I as a user can tweet, the paid media opportunity is a promoted tweet. If I can like something or have a conversation on Facebook, the paid media opportunities lie within sponsored stories and page post ads. The traditional display advertising approach of using real-estate to push content into users’ view is starting to erode very quickly and the use of data in marketing starts to shift from, “Give me a vacuum and I’ll go sell it” to “Let’s figure out which vacuum to actually build.”
It's easy to get stuck on the "great product, no sales" trap. That's not something New York-based Adaptly has to worry about. The startup was on track to generate around $10 million in revenue last year, and that's with just one sales guy.
Received $10.5M in Series B funding.
Nikhil Sethi graduated from Northwestern University last year with an engineering degree, a job offer from Microsoft, and a decidedly "that was yesterday" attitude. He moved to New York, got an office in Start-up Alley, and hired 22 people in two weeks to help him break into the advertising industry. Today he's 23 years old, and his company Adaptly—which has amassed $2.7 million in investment—is reportedly on track to generate $10 million in revenue this year. While Adaptly works primarily on social-media advertising campaigns for traditional businesses—and is not even two years old—it's taking a step usually associated with more mature companies: building in a social mission. The structure is simple; Adaptly is taking on a second string of clients: social enterprises and non-profits. For instance, after Japan's catastrophic earthquake, Adaptly's targeted advertising drove 3,000 targeted donors to the American Red Cross in two days—for a cost to the organization of less than $1,000. That's in part because when Adaptly takes on a non-profit client, it matches the client's budget dollar-to-dollar. Esha Chhabra spoke with Sethi about starting a company in the classroom, building a social mission into his start-up, and teaching non-profits some business sense.
Paul Turner, former Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa for Invite Media at Google, has joined Adaptly as General Manager of EMEA. Turner's job will be to expand the business in Europe by growing the client base. Adaptly just opened up a London office as part of the expansion.
It was four o’clock on a frigid morning in mid-November 2009 and Nikhil Sethi was burned out from studying for his computer science mid-term. Staring at the screen of his MacBook Pro, the Northwestern University senior found his mind wandering to the mind-numbing internship he’d done the summer before, when he’d spent hours manually entering social media advertising data into Excel spreadsheets. Now Sethi typed one line into a Word document where he stored random thoughts: “There’s got to be a better way."
Social ad buying platform Adaptly has raised a total of $2.7 million in seed and Series A funding from First Round Capital, Charles River Ventures, Kirschenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners and Lerer Ventures. Angel investors also include Gary Vaynerchuk, Invite Media founder Nathaniel Turner and Interclick CEO Michael Katz.
Received $2M in Series A funding.
When Nikhil Sethi started his company, Adaptly, last summer, he set up shop in the cafe and warehouse culture of San Francisco, where coders and venture dollars are supposedly easy to find. It's also where a lot of success happens, and however irrational the idea that proximity breeds profit, it's just nice to be close to everyone else in the industry.
Received $700k in Seed funding.