When you truly believe in something, even something as small as an idea, you'd do anything to see it come to life. This is what CEO & Founder of Zedosh Guillaume Kendall realised as soon as the pandemic hit. If he wanted his big idea to come true, he'd have to go all in.
Guillaume is leading a startup which is offering Gen Z a chance to monetise their time spent watching ads. It is an innovative way to approach the decades-old problem of consumers hating advertising, by turning the negative sentiment of having to sit through ads into something positive. On paper, it is a splendid idea. One that of course requires a lot of time and effort to come true.
Today we are Getting to Know Guillaume Kendall, Founder and CEO of Zedosh, to learn more about what it means to run such an innovative startup.
Tell us a bit about your role! What is one typical day like?
Running a startup means there is no typical day. Today I was working on making a TikTok, not something I have done before, but it was fun to learn. Each day I am working on the early stage business, talking to investors, helping our small but growing team, checking in with lawyers. It’s fun and hard work, but it’s different every single day.
What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?
The biggest challenge for us has been funding. We are making something really new and so although I am very passionate and keen, because it’s my idea, I have had to learn that not everyone is going to be as passionate right away. Each investor I speak with has a different angle - that could be anything from data to emotional input and while some are really familiar with fintech, others are not at all, so I have been learning to tailor the pitch so that it makes the most sense to each person I speak to.
What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?
I've always been an early adopter. I have tried out almost every new gadget, idea and piece of tech and so I got into fintech really early too - including open banking. I was using my own data from my bank account to experiment and I am surprised that so few people seem to be familiar with the idea. When it comes to digital advertising and entering this world, open banking data is the solution to so many problems. Getting in early on new tech ideas is always going to be beneficial.
What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?
The biggest win for us was convincing the Apple store to take our app. When it comes to advertising on iOS apps, Apple obviously wants to protect users. Often apps are keen to serve as many random ads as possible to make some money, that’s not great for any user - you might just want to play a little casual mobile game but you have to wade through ads to do that. I think because we are working that sort of relationship in reverse, it’s hard to describe and it took time to convince Apple that we are the good guys. It was the same also working out how to reverse payments for a service. Usually you pay for a product, and we want to pay you. It was a good day when we managed to make that work with a bank.
There has been a long learning curve and the loss there maybe is time. It took me a long time to work out what investors want. I have a great idea - but that needs to be realised, then when I have an app, that needs users and brands on board. Getting to know what traction means to different investors is not easy and takes time - not entirely a loss but something that took me a while.
What is one top marketing tip you learned on the job?
I have learned that it is the wild west out there when it comes to marketing. Some people will charge you a lot for something that doesn’t seem like much. While you have to trust the experts, it’s also easy to make mistakes. We now do our marketing to brands in house and work with trusted influencers to talk to the user base. It’s a good idea to work out what you want and then consider if you need marketing help on that or if you want to do that yourself.
How has COVID-19 affected you?
The pandemic enabled me to go full time and chase this business. I left my role and sold my house to go all in. I think a lot of people are looking at the work they do and moving on, maybe considering the time they spend working for other people - still good people - but also weighing that against their dreams and desires to make their own ideas work.
What is your biggest hope for your brand in 2021?
There’s only a few months left in this year and we move at such a pace in a startup! I hope to hit key indicators of course, a good number of users and brands that we can work with and see what we can do to evolve. More broadly though I hope that brands take a good look at how their advertising works and where it is placed. Social media can be a place of hate, misinformation and bad actors, it’s time for a change and for brands to realise that this is not a good place to be.
How do you recharge away from the office?
We’ve just recently moved from London to Cambrdige and I don’t miss the capital. It’s a literal breath of fresh air out here with a thriving tech scene. There’s lots of places to go outside and walk in green spaces. I also go to the gym a lot and work things out.
What’s your one big dream for the future of brands?
I really hope that brands value the time and attention of their audiences and customers. I hope that they are looking at social media and not just seeing one large network but the bad things that happen there too. Supporting these places by paying for ads there means supporting spaces where hate and misinformation takes place. This really needs to stop and I hope we can help them think about this.
Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
One book that really changed my thinking was ‘Yes Man’ by Danny Wallance. Whenever I am on the fence about a decision, I pause and then say yes. Even if it doesn’t turn out, I will have learned a lot along the way and that’s valuable in itself. I believe you can do a lot more with your life and business if you are open to saying yes. It’s one of the things that started me off on this adventure with Zedosh.