#MediaEntrepreneur: Risking the unusual, not settling for the ordinary

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September 14, 2021
Original article done by Glenda Nevill from themediaonline.co.za

#MediaEntrepreneur: Risking the unusual, not settling for the ordinary

From start-ups to fully-fledged independent companies, The Media Online’s media entrepreneur series brings to light media businesses getting up and going all out to establish themselves in the sector.

EazyAds has entered the transit media space, offering “innovative motion outdoor advertising solutions”. The company has a “vast network” of drivers at its disposal, giving it a “network of campaign vehicles” that move around high traffic areas. EazyAds uses demographic software to pinpoint the correct audience for brand campaigns. It also has in its arsenal proprietary campaign tracking technology that gives real-time metrics, attribution, exposed mobile devices, retargeting, impressions, mileage, heatmaps, tracking software and information on daily routes. Here, the team of Gloria Isaacs, Ruan Cillié and Shawn Eksteen explain their business model and how it all began.

Q: Why did you decide to branch out with your own business/venture, rather than work for other companies or corporates? The out of home industry is a tough sector!

A: Having collectively spent 30 years in the corporate branding industry we got invaluable insight into the critical importance of brand image, how brands communicate with their clients, how each aspect of a marketing campaign from a billboard right down to mass giveaways is well thought through but more than that communicates a message to the audience it is destined for.

Our dive into advertising came about when we saw an opportunity to meet what we believe is a gap where we can add value in the out of home arena. We saw an opportunity to add value and bring means of measuring campaign success and attributing factors to the overall accomplishment of results. It has been fuelled by our love for learning, building relationships, and the rewarding feeling of creating something from scratch and being of service.

We anticipate challenges as with starting anything new, it’s not been easy so far but we feel privileged to be a part of something that we believe will succeed and that will be a pioneer in this arena.

Q: Give us a brief history of your media venture? What gave you the idea? How did it begin, and how has your business journey unfolded?

A: The idea struck us while enjoying a quick pick me up at Starbucks one afternoon. Rideshare (high mileage) vehicles go everywhere even where traditional billboards cannot. Our branding background meant that we saw branding space when looking at just about anything. Cars provided great full colour branding space. The branding of vehicles has been around for centuries, this creative form of advertising dates as far back as the 1900s. We wanted to do car wrapping, but with the advancement in technology to enable effective campaign measurement.

The more we thought about it, the more we wanted to find out about it and then began the research journey which still continues.

We searched the continent far and wide, for data suppliers that could help us put our dream together. Data that would enable us to provide accurate impressions and live data. When we were unsuccessful getting what we needed locally we took our plight globally. We set up meetings in Israel, Germany, India, Denmark, Canada and the US. This is when we discovered that there was a company already doing it in the US that we could learn from.

This was exciting from the perspective of we could make it a success as they were doing it and they were making a difference to the outdoor arena. Through those connections we were able to get more insight and could delve in deeper. We also had to learn the laws pertaining to data acquisition in our country as they were different all over the world. Eventually we managed to get data that was GDPR and POPIA compliant.

We had to find out if high mileage drivers were interested so we took to market research, they were to be a vital part of this business. The drivers were on board – they couldn’t wait. They needed the extra income. This would be an incredible way for us to uplift the gig economy.

This got us excited. There was no turning back now.

The pieces were slowly coming together. We needed to get a sales person to help us sell this idea.

We were the operations and systems guys. When we thought sales, we approached Gloria. We needed someone that would be customer centric and have as much zeal for big brands as we do.

Q: What impact did Covid-19 have on your business? And how are you managing now?

A: We unanimously agree that had it not been for Covid we most likely would never have permitted ourselves to take this risk.

Lockdown afforded people all over the world a moment of stillness, and days of reflection.

We were each caught off guard thinking about job fulfilment, family, and legacy.

We can all agree that we appreciated the great outdoors more. Going out even to get groceries became a well-anticipated occasion. We were aware of how much billboard space was left without any adverts.

Out of a dire situation, we saw an opportunity to bring something positive. We could add value to the OOH industry and support the gig economy by providing an additional income source to rideshare and qualifying high mileage drivers.

We are optimistic about the future of OOH and seems we are not the only ones. Sam Mallikarjunan, CEO of OneScreen.ai, was quoted as saying “outdoor advertising is likely poised for more growth because of the glut of advertising on social media and television. Businesses are looking for different ways to stand out, he says, and customers are more receptive than ever to these different tactics.” We are looking to partner with the brands looking for something fresh, unique and memorable.

Q: What challenges did you face as a media entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?

A: Starting a company is tough – it is even tougher in the current economic climate. The biggest challenge for our startup is educating the market on what we are offering as most of the time people think we just wrap vehicles and miss out on the entire data component which is where the real value is.

It was also tough getting appropriate data to develop the software. It was not an easy task gaining access to the information we needed on the industry and norms etc.

We overcame these by educating ourselves on current and innovative OOH trends reaching out to industry experts and asking for advice and guidance. We got comfortable asking for help. We did a lot of research on the development and tracking software and found the right team to help us put it all together. We strive to continuously innovate and embrace learning as part of our journey and we are excited about it.

As an entrepreneur you need to have perseverance and as a team, we want to make a tangible difference to the current OOH space.

Q: Has there been a moment of success that has really stood out for you and that is your favourite on your journey? To what do you attribute your success?

A: A very memorable moment in the research process was realising that nothing was available on the market that paired up valuable measuring data with transit media. We had been in discussions with numerous international data providers and it became apparent to us that we could add value by providing a means to measure the effectiveness and impact of each marketing campaign.

Success to us so far has been partnering with the right professionals to develop the client analytics dashboard and driver mobile application coming together.

Another great moment was getting feedback on our surveys and confirming that Rideshare and qualifying high mileage drivers were interested. The response was phenomenal and this market research was very encouraging.

Q: What characteristics do you think make a successful media entrepreneur?

The same characteristics that make any entrepreneur successful are important in this space too. First and foremost you must believe in your service. You must be solution-driven, relationship-focused, resilient, Passionate, possess the ability to listen and understand objectives, be flexible. You must have a teachable character.

Our success will always be rooted in the success of those we serve and the success of their campaigns.

Q: Your advice to young media entrepreneurs or those looking to start new media businesses?

A: Read, research, and ask questions.

Approach industry leaders and seek advice and mentorship. Solve an existing or future problem.

Find a niche and start, understand that there will never be the perfect time to start your own adventure. Have a clear understanding of WHY you are doing this.

Try and have a plan for each day to avoid procrastinating on the uncomfortable things that need to be done.

Have the right people on your moving bus (or in this case your campaign rocket), in other words, partner up with the right people. Who share the same passion, drive, and vision.

Q: What, in your view, needs to happen to encourage more media entrepreneurs, and not just that, help them stay the course?

A: We believe to spark interest internship programmes and mentorship would go a long way.

Reaching out to those going into the marketing arena and putting the spotlight on media entrepreneurship as an exciting avenue to consider. To help people stay the course more influential players opening themselves up to sharing their journeys on a platform that everyone can have access to.

Q: How do you ‘pay it forward’?

A: On our journey, we have struggled to find mentors and information to equip us on certain decisions we needed to make so often especially on the development and software side we had to go to international giants for advice and guidance. In line with this, we would want to open up and be approachable and be able to offer mentoring and guidance. Possibly look at an online academy platform to educate and share some of what we learned and help those who share the same passion.

Internship programmes, uplifting young people and people entering the industry.

Offering resources and information to young people and disadvantaged individuals.

Q: What quote or passage do you think encapsulates you and your approach to business and success?

If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.“ ~ Jim Rohn

This is a quote that resonates so deeply with each one of us, we needed to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

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