LetsVenture in conversation with Ankit Oberoi, Co-Founder, AdPushup.
LetsVenture: Tell us about AdPushup. What led to founding AdPushup?
Ankit: AdPushup is an AdTech product that helps optimize online ad revenues by using advanced automated A/B Testing (a proprietary multi-arm bandit algorithm). In simpler terms, AdPushup has the following proposition: there are many publishers who are looking to increase returns via ads. Using AdPushup, publishers can get a chance to A/B test various versions of an ad unit and see which ones give them the best returns.
Atul and I had good experience in digital space and we were observing how advertising space was evolving. AdPushup was born with the vision to to bring a positive change in digital advertising space by helping improve the reach of ads and optimize the process.
LetsVenture: Background of core team behind AdPushup
Ankit: Atul and I have been entrepreneurs for a while. I started up Tamranda back in 2004 before getting together with Atul in 2007 to start Innobuzz Solutions, a knowledge solution providing company. We were in the services space and have been successful.
LetsVenture: What was the initial traction for the product when you were looking to raise an angel round?
Ankit: When we were looking to raise the angel round we we were optimizing 10 million monthly ad impressions. The beta version of AdPushup was launched in March 2014. From 500,000 impressions in March 2014, we were doing 32 million impressions in June 2014.
LetsVenture: How much time did it take you to close the angel round? Which are the different routes that you tried before coming on LetsVenture?
Ankit: It took us 7-8 weeks to get all the commitments. After we got the first commitment on LetsVenture, it took us only 2 weeks to get the rest of the commitments.
When we started looking for raising funds, we didn’t know any angel investors. Actually, by July 2014, we spent 3 good months to decide whether we should raise funds or continue bootstrapping. Having no experience in raising funds earlier, we explored many routes like pitching at offline events, sending cold e-mails, aggressive PR, listing on AngelList and LetsVenture. Unlike AngelList, LetsVenture helped us get easy visibility because on LetsVenture, each new startup begins with a placement on the “Actively Fundraising Startups” page.
LetsVenture: What was the purpose of raising the angel round? Where were the funds utilized?
Ankit: The purpose of the angel round was to essentially expand our business. The funds were mainly utilized for building the product, building a stellar team and converting the initial traction to something more scalable.We consider funding as a catalyst in building a business.
LetsVenture: Walk us through your fundraising journey on LetsVenture.
Ankit: I was introduced to LetsVenture by my friend, Paras Chopra (Founder and CEO of Wingify). I went on the LetsVenture website first. It asked a lot of details. At first, I filled in brief details. When I decided to put AdPushup on the “Actively Fundraising Startups” page of platform, I got a call from Manish and Shanti. We did the first mock pitch with them. They suggested a few changes in the profile and also invited us in their offline event in Investopad. We met Sunil Kalra there and we got the first commitment from him on LetsVenture platform after few discussions. Shanti also connected me with few other angels at the event.
LetsVenture: Did LetsVenture help you find a lead investor? How much commitments you had from outside (if any)?
Ankit: In our Angel round, we don’t have a lead. Talking in terms of getting first investors on board, Yes, we got the first investor through LetsVenture.
First 30% of the commits came through LetsVenture. The rest 70% came from outside afterwards. We encouraged even outside investors to commit through LetsVenture as it helped us build a social profile. Also, many of the outside investors would come to us after checking our LetsVenture profile.
LetsVenture: How did you connect with investors (angel, institutional) on LetsVenture or did they connect with you?How did “Featured Syndicate” program help in fast-tracking the closure of your fundraise?
Ankit: On LetsVenture, if an investor visits your startup’s profile, you would get a notification. We wrote e-mails to the investors who checked our profile. While 30% reached out to us, we wrote to 70% of the investors.
I would recommend startups to go for “Featured Syndicate” program of LetsVenture. It really helped us fast-track our fundraising efforts. We got the rest of the commitments in just 2 weeks after becoming a Featured Syndicate. It helped us get more attention from investors on the platform. Also, LetsVenture team helped with all the terms involved in angel funding.
LetsVenture: After you got all the commitment, how did the “Commitment to Closure” program (DD, Term sheet, SHA, Call for money) work for you?
Ankit: “Commitment to Closure” program is a blessing for entrepreneurs. As a founder you are less worried about things like term sheet as LetsVenture team helps you out with everything. It saves a lot of time and you can focus on building your business.
LetsVenture: Tell us one criteria which you think triggered the investors to invest in your product?
Ankit: It works differently for different investors. It depend on factors like – how large the market is, how the product is positioned to disrupt the market, founders know the space well or not, technology of the product can be used globally or not and is the timing of the product right.
I think the growth numbers on MVP spoke for us. Also adoption level was good at MVP level. People were talking about us on social profiles that we are directly helping them in getting revenues.
LetsVenture: How was the experience of raising funds on LetsVenture? How it was different from conventional fund raising?
Ankit: On LetsVenture, we felt “in control” of our fund-raising. The conventional funding institutions and angel groups put a lot of restrictions. Entrepreneurs don’t have control on whom they want money from. We believe that at an early stage funding, only capital is not enough. You need such investors on board who knows your industry well and has good experience. On LetsVenture, we got that freedom. It becomes an open market on LetsVenture.
LetsVenture: Would you refer your fellow entrepreneurs to raise funds on LetsVenture and why?
Ankit: Yes. On LetsVenture, you get – full control over your cap table, access to large community of investors. Also, LetsVenture team is very proactive as the focus is to help entrepreneurs.
LetsVenture: Advice to fellow entrepreneurs who are raising angel funds.
Ankit: I would say select your investors very carefully. Make sure there is synergy, don’t just go for capital. It’s very important to have very smart people who have experience in the industry you are operating in. Go for Smart Money instead of Dumb Money.
Also, if you are not able to raise funds that don’t lose faith on your business. Focus on building your business.
Ankit has beautifully captured his fundraising experience in his blog – From Zero to Fifty: How AdPushup Closed $632K in Angel Investment . It’s a must-read for first time fundraising startups!