SkyFounder Spotlight: Ronald Kwok of SkyTeam Alike Audience
This is the first edition of our weekly SkyFounder Spotlight where we receive insight into the entrepreneurial pursuits of SkyDeck founders. Our first spotlight is on SkyTeam Alike Audiences co-founder Ronald Kwok. Alike Audience is a mobile data management platform that empowers marketers, media agencies, and publishers to reach targeted audiences behind mobile.
Q: What problem does your startup solve?
A: Alike Audience is an advertising technology, so we only solve a part of the whole ecosystem. We are a component that empowers advertisers to reach their target audience through mobile via programmatic media buying. Being programmatic means that you and I will actually see the different ads because it is targeted toward different consumers. In typical situations, the advertiser wastes 50% of their budget, so this is what we’re going to try to help them to solve.
Q: What was your experience prior to working in the startup industry?
A: This is my first time working in a startup. Since I was in college, I had a dream that I wanted to have a startup. My co-founders and I had a vision on how to make use of big data, so we tried to understand how big data works, and we found that it is quite impossible to digest different sources of data. Therefore, we decided to focus on the advertising industry, and we collected data on the industry by talking to advertisers and publishers to try to understand their pain.
Q: How has your startup evolved over time?
A: At first, we didn’t know a lot about the industry, but we talked to different stakeholders to learn more. We connected with professionals on Linkedin, called them, and met up with them, and we tried to understand a very niche problem. They were very willing to share their pain on programmatic media buying with us. One of our greatest insights was when we talked to the media agencies and they told us they wanted to tap into Asian data. And that was the solution: we found a huge need that hadn’t yet been satisfied.
Q: How did you meet your team?
A: We met each other through a hackathon. This is a bit unusual, because we didn’t know each other at all before the hackathon. At the hackathon, we focused on the product and how to launch it in 24 hours. During the break time, we had coffee and we talked to each other, and we learned about each other. We later found that we had an idea and you wanted to execute it together.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced? How did you overcome it?
A: Many many people challenged us, asking us why we didn’t do fintech, which seemed more relevant to our experiences. But because we had the same vision and tried to visualize this big data, we actually focused on tackling the Asian market. Specifically, we are looking at Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia. Then we collected 120 million audience profiles to better understand their needs.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A: I’m really focused on the startup in the coming 5 years. The hope is that I can exit within 5 years for this startup. There are two options: one is to sell the company, the other is to have IPO. From there, ideally, I would exit the startup and be an angel.
Q: What is your team motto?
A: Our motto is “fail fast, fail forward.”