Yoav Oz is the Co-Founder of Spotad, a leading artificial intelligence, mobile advertising technology startup.
Spotad enables businesses to bring their own algorithms and data to the programmatic advertising space. The company boasts impressive clients that include Uber, Expedia, Apple Music, OpenTable, Trainline, and more.
Oz has over eight years of experience in marketing and advertising, and was previously a manager at a private advertising technology incubator and the Director of the LaunchPad Entrepreneurial Program at Tel Aviv University Entrepreneurship Center.
After the closing of a $3.5 million Series “A” funding round lead by VLTCM, a private investment firm based in Hong Kong, Spotad became the first Western demand-side platform to enter China, and the only Western mobile advertising platform connected to all the major Chinese ad-exchanges, like Baidu, Alibaba, Sina, Weibo, as well as Western ones like Google AdX, Rubicon, and others.
Spotad was chosen by Baidu as its “top quality partners.”
Oz understood quickly that future presence in the Chinese market is crucial for the future of the company. “We believed that our technology is better than the local competitors, and in order to prove it, we had to be as much local as possible,” noted Oz.
“In our industry, where the mobile phone is the number one platform, if you don’t work in China, you are basically giving up a billion potential clients. On the Chinese side, when they encounter foreign technology that can help them grow, they will adopt it.”
Today, Spotad is working with major players in the Chinese market and touts itself as setting as an example how a small start-up from a small country can make it big in China.
Tell me how your product was created and what’s unique about it
Yoav Oz: People use the platform to receive insights directly from the platform, showing them when is the best time to purchase space to show their ads.
How had your previous career(s) helped you to get to Spotad?
Yoav Oz: I think everything you do in life is a lesson that will help you and prepare you. Prior to Spotad, I was a strategic planner at Publics, and then after, I went on to manage an Adtech incubator. Both of these roles led me to the Tel Aviv University incubator, where I met my current business partners.
What have you learned as an entrepreneur?
Yoav Oz: I’ve learned that just inventing something new, for the sake of being new, is not always better than making something that already exists better.
Ultimately your decisions will reflect where your company will go, and that can be a heavy burden to carry.
At some point in time we decided to take insights from our clients, rather than looking towards our competition.
What advice would you give a budding entrepreneur?
Yoav Oz: Listen, whether you are riding the highest high, or trying to make it through your lowest low, it’s always important to remember, that every single point of the wave, is leading you to your next destination. Just embrace it! It may sound cliché, but greatness really does lie just outside of your comfort zone.
What was one of your biggest work challenges, and how did you overcome it?
Yoav Oz: My biggest professional challenge was also quite possibly one of my biggest personal challenges, and that was going to China. I wasn’t even a little bit prepared to deal with the cultural differences.
I think the only way I was able to overcome this challenge was my flexibility. It was only in my ability to change my approach, and the time I took to invest in learning how the Chinese do business. I think a lot of people make the mistake of trying to have their environment adapt to them, when really we should all adapt to whatever environment we find ourselves in.
When you understand the cultural differences, everything become easier. For example, you need to understand that negotiations start only after signing a contract. Most western companies think that most companies end up not respecting the contract, because of this practice, when it’s really just a jumping off point for negotiations.
How did you get the nickname ‘The Fixer’?
Yoav Oz: I have never only been responsible for “just” one role at Spotad. I was always juggling a few responsibilities at the same time. I never felt comfortable with the topical title. At some point I felt as if I was moving from place to place, department to department, within Spotad, to fix issues. Wherever the company needed me, I was there to fix it. So in my first business card, I asked to simply be called “The Fixer”.