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Lessons for building a successful start-up: Ex-Google executive and ROKT co-founder tells
Justin Viles co-founded ROKT, a digital advertising referral platform for businesses, in 2010 after seven years at Google where he spearheaded the growth of Google AdWords in Australia and New Zealand.
His time at the internet giant taught him three key lessons for launching a successful technology start-up, which he has applied to ROKT.
ROKT creates and monetises digital audiences by connecting advertisers through partners’ websites to new digital online and mobile customers when consumers are in the process of carrying out a transaction. It is now seeing user engagement grow 20-25% monthly with more than one million users engaging across the ROKT partner network each month.
Here he gives his three top lessons for a successful tech start-up.
Can it scale and grow?
“People looking at digital start-ups in particular have great ideas but are lacking in the scale component,” he says.
“How much money is it going to cost them to get the traffic to drive their revenue?”
Viles says internet traffic is effectively digital currency.
He says technology start-ups, when talking about growth, need to work out the mechanism of that growth.
“What audience are they trying to attract and what do they need to do from a technology and product perspective to cost-effectively get in front of that audience?
“The main questions are who are our customers and how are we going to be driving revenue from our customer base? And how easy and quick is it to scale to attract the volume of customers to get our business model to work?”
Can the product be automated?
Viles says the key driver of financial margins for a technology company is automation.
“Without automation, in order to get work done you need to hire more people,” he says.
Automation allows the start-up to be as streamlined as possible, Viles says.
“The more that technology can manage a customer, the better the margins of a business are going to be.”
But he cautions not to automate so much that customers feel alienated.
Hiring the right talent
Viles says as a start-up grows, the standard of new people being brought on board needs to be kept at an “incredibly high standard”.
“It sets the culture from day one,” he says.
He adds that if a start-up gets its hiring wrong, it’s easy for it to miss getting the right people to lift it up.