After taking his mobile ads startup out of stealth on Monday, Kiip founder Brian Wong has a lot on his plate, mainly putting a recent $4.3 million in funding and a novel product and business model to good use. And Wong can’t even drink legally yet!
We brought him into the TCTV studio this morning to talk about about the inspiration behind Kiip among other things. Wong says the idea came to him after he did an “iPad creep,” or sneak-peeked at everyone’s iPads while walking down an aisle on a plane. He realized that everyone was playing games, that games were “a holy grail of engagement,: but that game ads basically took up a piece of the screen without adding any value.
Wong then came up with the idea of providing real life rewards, “There has to be a reset button here, we have to try something new … We have to build a company with the DNA of being in mobile.”
After graduating from the University of British Columbia in 2009 (after skipping four grades), the 19 year old got a job in business development at Digg, until a layoff left him looking for the next opportunity. Despite being so young, Wong is an advocate of staying in school, “The notion of finishing something is something that entrepreneurs get a bad rap for, we’re so schizophrenic. [It's like] hey let’s go to this project, let’s go to that project. Well let’s just finish school, let’s just finish that project.”
Wong also talked about the risks involved with raising funding, and how people might underestimate him and other entrepreneurs because of age, “Obviously I’m a human being, it’s intimidating. You walk into this partners meeting (I didn’t know what a partners meeting was when I was first going to raise money) and there are people there that are going to be your future if they accept you. And you have to be able to talk to them and be able to relate.”
Well Wong obviously convinced somebody he was on to something, as True Ventures, Hummer Winblad and blue chip brands like Carl’s Jr, Sephora and PopChips have now given him the vote of confidence.
So what’s his secret to success? “I like to call it ‘Inception,’ like the movie. You have to seed the idea first, you have to let them think of it as well, at the same time you’re revealing it. If you have that parallel, then you have them, the vision is now in their head.”