Last week, I caught up with Ben Regensburger, the founder and CEO of RollUp Media, a content production platform that connects independent publishers, advertisers and writers helping publishers earn more money from the content they develop.
Hi Ben, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
Really great thanks – extremely busy as more publishers and advertisers are using our platform!
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
Before I founded RollUp Media, I ran DoubleClick’s international business. When we sold the company to Google, I stayed to run Google’s EMEA media platform. Before DoubleClick I worked at Lycos Bertelsmann, Hugo Boss and Procter & Gamble.
When did you get the entrepreneurial bug?
I think it all started when I was about 10 and I sold cassette tapes that I’d recorded myself to my classmates. Unfortunately it took a couple of decades to take the plunge from there. I left Google in 2010 to move to the investing side of the business and quickly saw an opportunity to help independent publishers scale content and earn more money from advertising. Instead of getting involved from the sidelines I decided to get in the driver seat for this.
How did the idea for RollUp Media come about?
I was intrigued by the role independent publishers played in the explosion of content sharing on social media. Indie publishers were the true fuel for the exponential growth of Facebook, Twitter and the like. But the majority of those publishers had real difficulty scaling their content and their ad business. There were some networks that aggregated smaller publisher ad inventory with benefits for network owners but unfortunately all this wasn’t moving the needle for the individual publisher. So I thought it was time to start a company to change all that.
Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
The hardest part was definitely finding the starting point – which part of the product or service to focus by testing which of the ideas you have that make a difference. There is no right or wrong and you have to embrace being in a constant learning mode.
You were the President of DoubleClick (Europe/Asia) before its sale to Google, what has been the difference during your time there and running your own company?
At RollUp Media it is incredibly rewarding to see things in place that didn’t exist at the beginning of the week and see that they are making a difference at client level. The pace for getting things done is quicker, because there are less people along for the ride, less processes and only an upside (if we execute well). On the other hand there is much more uncertainty – so no country for fearful people.
What is RollUp Media? And what are you trying to solve with it?
The idea was to build a media company dedicated to the content experience – both: editorial and branded content. At the core RollUp Media has a content production platform that connects independent publishers, advertisers and writers. We want to help publishers earn more money from the content they develop. Our goal is to empower advertisers to run better advertising by helping them produce more content based ad experiences including native advertising, which is more relevant and engaging for site visitors.
How have you been able to get so many great investors on board?
We have put a great team together behind an attractive concept and started to show early traction.
What advice can you give to entrepreneurs looking to raise investments for their start-ups?
Showing traction on goals you’ve set for yourself is important if you’re looking for investment. This implies you have a rough direction where you are headed and understand what it takes to be successful. If you don’t know who will?
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
I was hugely excited – it is incredibly empowering to build a team, product, business, culture and company.
How did you initially get traction?
By getting everyone out of the office and in front of customers.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow it?
Crucially, the clients that RollUp Media first started working with helped us to grow. For example, working with Everyday Health really helped to build our business. And as I mentioned earlier, having the right team is so important – in smaller teams it’s very visible when someone isn’t pulling their weight. Business growth is a gambit of things, but it’s also instrumental that you make sure that the targets you set are both aggressive and achievable. It’s too easy to become commonplace and move marginally.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
There are so many highlights. Watching the team grow with the goals we are setting ourselves. Taking something that previously didn’t exist and moulding it into something that really works. Getting investors to believe in us and back us. But the most rewarding thing is doing something we all believe in strongly needs fixing.
What should we be expecting from RollUp Media in the coming months?
Bigger, better things.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Go in with eyes wide open that chances are you are in a highly competitive environment and there is no substitute here for having smart, passionate people on your team. If you mess this part up the rest doesn’t really matter. Start with less people but don’t compromise on the quality of people you get on board. A good question to ask yourself is “what will the one thing be this person contributes that the others on the team can’t?”