Interview with OnScroll founder Babac Vafaey

What inspired you to launch Onscroll?

Above all else it was to deliver a product of true value to the industry, a product which would evolve the way in which online banner ads are served, valued and traded online. Over four trillion online banner ads are served each year, and the large majority of them (well over half) are never even seen by a user. If an ad is not seen then it does not have the opportunity to be effective. This inefficiency costs the ad industry an estimated $11 billion (£7 billion) in wasted ad spend per year, which is a crazy amount. Our aim is to tackle this wastage and enable the delivery of more accountable and effective advertising by changing the way in which it is served and, as such change the legacy method of ad serving, which has been a part of the industry since its inception some 18 or so years ago.

By creating a product in this mould, we are not only offering advertisers the chance to buy more advertising more effectively, but totally transform the monetisiation model for publishers online.

That's the underlying inspiration behind OnScroll, and the motivation to drive the company forward to deliver a product which helps the industry better itself and evolve.

What have been your highs and lows as a startup entrepreneur?

The biggest high is when you finally see a product from concept through to live, and once live that it is achieving real business needs for real businesses. This is the biggest reward for any startup. It's the validation that your product has legs and that the defined customer base believes in the product. Knowing that you are improving a business, however small, is extremely gratifying and humbling. The first big client you land is incredibly exciting.

The biggest low is around challenging market perceptions. You always get the early adopters who are futurists in your market, and they can see where things are heading. They adopt early and act as advocates to others. You still, however, have a harder time with many others. Some people don't want to be the first, third, or even the hundredth to adopt – they want to be the last, only when the concept has been tried and tested many many times over. But generally speaking, with our product this is a rarity. When we demo the product for the first time people tend to get it straight away and are enthused, excited and want to work together.

What is the single most challenging obstacle that you have encountered till now?

Getting that first client over the line. You may encounter questions, issues which you never thougt of until you get to the point of actually pushing to a live environment. It can take you a while to get your first major client over the line and using your product, but when you do it makes your job from there on a whole lot easier. You have your test client, your loss leader, they have to take a risk on you and your product. They are the real life guinea pigs and they know it. Once you are over the line it's a huge relief and it will definitely be worth the effort.

List five of the most important services and tools that are essential to day-to-day running of Onscroll

Cloud Hosting – we deal with millions and millions of requests and database insertions daily, in peaks and troughs as we are often news based, and so we need to be able to handle whatever traffic comes our way.

Pivotal Tracker – in order to manage our dev tasks, product timeline and client tickets.

Browser Stack – Used for creating multiple mock enviroments and testing latest product variations in live enviromentsGoogle Docs – to work on collobarative documents and ideas amongst the team.

My laptop – I'm out and about a lot so I need my laptop to be light, durable and with decent battery life.

Where do you see Onscroll in five years?

Hopefully, right at the forefront of analytics for online advertising stakeholders. Publishers need better tools to monetise their sites more effectively and advertisers want greater transparency and insight into their ad campaigns. However these needs evolve, we'll be agile enough to move quickly enough to meet these needs.

Disclaimer: OnScroll was cofounded by Babac Vafaey, a former colleague of mine at Net Communities, and Andy Evans, the founder and managing director of Net Communities, the publisher of ITProPortal.

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