This one-piece of advice is single-handedly the best piece of advice that impacts my career. Enjoy the journey. Founders do not need to postpone celebrations until major milestones occur. Anyhow, enjoying the journey is crucial. I continually remind myself that I am in a marathon, not in a sprint.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emre Fadıllıoğlu.
Emre Fadıllıoğlu is the CEO and Co-founder of App Samurai Inc., a mobile technology company with three products dedicated to the complete mobile user cycle. From the user acquisition platform — App Samurai, with over 100 integrated ad networks, to the real-time ad fraud prevention solution — Interceptd, to Storyly, the user engagement and retention tool. Storyly is the world’s first provider of in-app stories for app owners, and promises to greatly disrupt and equalize the mobile-app industry. App Samurai Inc. aims to spearhead innovative solutions and opportunities that respond to the ever-evolving mobile-app ecosystem.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
My entrepreneurship journey started in college. I was a freelancer building websites for SMEs. Let me tell you a fun fact about myself, I managed the Turkish popstar — Mirkelam’s fan page for two years. After college, I started my career at PwC then worked for a few big Turkish corporations. Before creating App Samurai, I was the Sales Director at Oracle. I always wanted to work for a tech or software giant such as Oracle, SAP, or Microsoft, especially during the height of their ‘coolness’ in the early 2000’s. Another fun fact, I interviewed with Oracle in 2006 and it wasn’t until 6 years later, that I successfully joined Oracle after interviewing again.
I always had entrepreneurial instincts, however, around the time I graduated from university, the Turkish ecosystem was not conducive to entrepreneurship. After a successful market domination with Oracle, I started my first company, Netvent, with four co-founders. We helped many companies with their digital and mobile marketing needs. We tried, built, and killed many products with our own resources. Then the last product we built turned into a company — App Samurai with more than 50 amazing team members, offices in 5 countries, and many happy customers.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
App Samurai is democratizing the mobile user acquisition industry with its secure mobile growth platform (App Samurai), real-time ad fraud prevention suite (Interceptd), and mobile engagement and retention solution (Storyly).
Mobile advertising is quite different from the way web advertising works. Similar to the web, mobile applications need advertising to acquire users, but as a user needs to install an application on their phone, the standard methods don’t translate well.
While large companies can afford expensive tools and experts, it has become nearly impossible to reach the number and quality of installs for the rest of the market, which are millions of apps. App marketers need luck, time, budget, and patience to start a campaign in the mobile world. App Samurai is solving this problem with a secure mobile growth platform with real-time ad fraud detection. In addition, keeping your acquired users in your app is a tricky problem. User engagement on mobile apps is also a challenge. We have a lightweight SDK providing app owners the power of the popular ‘story’ format to their mobile app, where they can showcase their content in the trendiest way.
One of our users is a startup from the UK, they have created a campaign with App Samurai in late 2015. Based on successful results, they raised their first institutional round. Without App Samurai, it is near to impossible for startups to optimize user acquisition campaigns with limited resources and knowledge. We are creating accessible solutions for the entire mobile app cycle, from user acquisition through App Samurai, to retention and engagement, powered by Storyly.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In the early days, I created financials to share with investors and I used gross revenue numbers in the pitch deck. Normally one should use Net Revenue numbers. It created a misunderstanding with a potential investor and created a chain of misunderstanding which I cannot disclose now. In 2 weeks, we noticed and resolved everything. It was a great lesson for me to always over-communicate and double-check everything.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
First of all, having four co-founders is a great opportunity for me. Mehmet, Soner, Seyhmus, and Selin are always supportive and present which helps me to continue my entrepreneurship journey.
Rina Onur, General Partner of 500 İstanbul, has been a great supporter from the beginning. She was always willing to provide feedback for my growth and improvement. Her analytical and strategic approach was one of the key game-changers for App Samurai.
In addition, we are very lucky to have powerful investors who are always ready if needed. Techstars, 500, ACT, 212, Collective Spark, Erdem Yurdanur, Degerhan Usluel are always helpful and supportive.
Finally, I have incredible friends who are in key roles and again, ready to provide support. Onur Kavak, General Manager of Letgo in Turkey, reviewed our decks, promotion videos, and provided feedback on marketing tactics. David Philippson, CEO of Dataseat, served as a Board Member and mentor for one year and helped us improve our real-time ad fraud prevention suite. Dennis Mink, VP of Marketing at Liftoff, is always helpful regarding our marketing tactics in the US market. Patrice Guillouzic, CEO of Advizzo, was my Director at Oracle, he also chose the entrepreneur path just like me. We are always talking about our startups and supporting each other to solve problems.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
By definition, disruption is positive, as it refers to a new innovation with some positive merit or market potential that can radically change the existing structure or status quo. Therefore, by definition, all disruptive market entries are fundamentally positive. However, the question remains on the impact of that disruption. This will vary from situation to situation, however, usually there will be winners and losers from this radical shift. This is why agility is such a fundamental facet of business longevity.
Agileness is certainly something we strive for and is how our two brands (Storyly and Interceptd) came into existence. At the beginning of App Samurai’s inception, we embarked on a journey to provide the best mobile advertising experience available, through our platform which is now integrated with over 100 partners and ad networks. We achieved this goal, however, along the way, we became aware of some challenges that we ultimately turned into opportunities.
In 2017 we noticed the presence of puzzling occurrences in our customer’s user acquisition activities — ad fraud. We began creating solutions for this, that eventually became its own stand-alone product — Interceptd.
In 2019, we noticed a gradual shift towards emphasis on mobile retention and engagement. This is when Storyly was born. Our latest and most loved innovative and disruptive product, which we think will make permanent changes to the mobile-app industry.
Storyly is the world’s first provider of in-app stories, which app owners can integrate into their apps (via a lightweight SDK), in order to show their own brand-generated stories to their audiences. Through the rise in popularity of user-generated stories from social media apps, such as Instagram and Snapchat, app users have developed a habit and love for consuming short-form content.
We want to power our Storyly customers, with the ability to harness the power of this growing communication trend, to retain and engage their users on their app, with their own branded in-app stories. Whether your monetisation model is subscription, in-app ad revenue or in-app purchases, more engagement and retention means increased app revenue.
To paint a picture, an app such as Spotify, could integrate Storyly onto their app in less than an hour and start showing their own Spotify stories. They could show promotional stories to their paid subscribers, about exclusive music offerings to drive loyalty and engagement. These stories can include interactive Storyly features such as emoji-reactions, polls and quizzes. Through our story labelling feature, Spotify could (for example) show their ‘free-user segment’ exclusive in-app stories designed to convert them to paid users, or perhaps even in-app advertisements. This could drive revenue via their subscription and in-app advertising model.
This is just a taste of the transformative power Storyly can have on the existing app and mobile market, as we bring this much loved communication habit and tool to all apps — big and small. However, the feature we’re most excited about, and that we anticipate will be the most disruptive, will be our next upcoming feature — live streaming shopping!
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Actually, this one-piece of advice is single-handedly the best piece of advice that impacts my career. Enjoy the journey. Founders do not need to postpone celebrations until major milestones occur. Anyhow, enjoying the journey is crucial. I continually remind myself that I am in a marathon, not in a sprint.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
One feature we’re excitedly working on at Storyly is live streaming shopping, a feature that will drive revenue for our Storyly customers, and radically change the eCommerce industry.
Live streaming shopping is the ability to stream videos live that enable the audience to interact and make purchases directly from them. For example, your audience can open your eCommerce app, say ASOS, and view your live streaming shopping story (powered by Storyly, of course). Perhaps your latest spring collection will be featured via a live streamed video as a flurry of floral and tropical printed skirts, shirts and dresses is modeled live on your app. If your audience likes any of the pieces from the collection, they need only click on the live streamed garment, and see more information and then add it to their shopping cart!
Brands such as H&M, venture capitalists, startups and even acquisitions by large enterprises such as Facebook are just some of the contenders vying for a piece of the live streaming shopping pie. In fact, over 2.9 billion USD was spent last Single’s Day in China via live streaming shopping on Tmall, according to the Alibaba Group. Storyly wants to bring this technology to the masses.
Live streaming shopping will eventually be available to all of our Storyly customers, whether they be big or small. This is a move to radically level the playing field, and will certainly disrupt the current eCommerce ecosystem.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka. It is impossible to simplify a Kafka book into one paragraph but it will be easier with some key points that had a deep impact on my life. First of all, it is a dark book just like other books of Kafka. Gregory Samsa is supporting his family as a salesman, but he hates his job. His metamorphosis helps him to escape from this with other burdens. A great lesson, “always do what you love, life is short”. Another thing I recall from the book was communication. After the metamorphosis Gregory cannot communicate with his family, and all of a sudden everything falls apart. Second lesson, ‘over communication is the key, in both your work and personal life’.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Success is my only m**********n’ option, failure’s not” from Eminem. Yeah, it is funny to love this quote and the song, I am a firm believer of failure which is a part of startup life but in the long run my only option is success, and I am sure about Storyly, Interceptd and App Samurai’s success in the long run.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am dreaming of a world without any boundaries where all people have access to the world’s resources which is more than enough with a better and fair distribution. People can live wherever they want, can travel wherever they want, can create value in any part of the world. A utopia maybe.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!