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placementsio1When Edwin Fu worked at Salesforce, he learned what he calls a “dirty little secret” while interacting with companies like Microsoft Advertising, Facebook and Zynga. Fu found out that nearly all digital publishers that sell ads had a hard time managing the sale and fulfillment of direct ad campaigns.

“It took 72 hours and between 10-to-12 percent of their budget,” Fu explained. “The workflow is largely manual and the systems are not integrated.”

That’s exactly why he started Placements.io to automate the ad-fulfillment process from selling to booking to reporting of ad campaigns. Fu founded the company two years ago in San Francisco, but recently moved his 5-person team up to Seattle.

We caught up with the CEO to learn more about his company, a graduate of the Alchemist Accelerator, for this edition of Startup Spotlight.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: Placements.io helps publishers make more money and live better lives through the automation of selling, booking, and reporting of digital ad campaigns.

Edwin Fu.
Edwin Fu.

Inspiration hit us when … Really big companies with virtually unlimited resources, both technical and financially, could not solve the problem. Also, big publishers were willing to pay us to pilot our solution.

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: Currently we have raised an angel round consisting of our accelerator and super angels.

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: Our intimate know-how and features that ad-tech has never seen.

The smartest move we’ve made so far: Moving from San Francisco to Seattle.

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: Spending too much time taking VC meetings instead of customer and product development.

Placements allows customers to integrate into ad servers like Google DoubleClick, OpenX, and AdTech.
Placements allows customers to integrate into ad servers like Google DoubleClick, OpenX, and AdTech.

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: Neither. I think all of them assume a fair level of egotism. We are a team. I prefer to think of us as Seal Team 6 — small but effective.

Our world domination strategy starts when: We have real product, which was yesterday.

Rivals should fear us because: We’re scrappy and solve problems more creatively. We also have one of the most popular social networks and a $1 billion-plus media company as paying customers.

We are truly unique because: We’re entering a space that’s been traditionally ignored by ad-tech, yet it’s a problem that’s most crippling to their wallet. We’re a little revolutionary in the space because we’re a software company that is SaaS-based. We’re not another ad-tech company looking to take a piece of the publisher’s CPM or add them to a network. We are just software.

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: Educating people about the problem. Outside of ad operations and finance, most employees don’t understand the severity of the problem.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: Build product and find customers. Forget everything else.

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