Thursday, April 10, 2008
Interview with Perrin Chiles and Chris Sherril, Adooga
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Perrin Chiles and Chris Sherril, the founders and entrepreneurs behind Santa Monica-based Adooga (www.adooga.com), are looking to help content creators find and enter the many brand contests which have emerged from the user generated video sites. The two spoke to us the other day about how they've created their web site, focused on online talent contests from brands.
What's the story behind Adooga, and how did the company start?
Chris Sherril: Essentially, what we're doing is providing search and discovery for online contests. What Perrin and I discovered, in scouring the Web 2.0 landscape and Web 2.0 companies focused on user generated video, was that there was lots of money to be made through interactive contests and promotions for different brands. We also found that there are so many of these contests at any one time, across a myriad of different sites, that the discovery process for consumers is a little chaotic. What we wanted to do is to provide a simple search vertical, which pulls all those contests into one simple, intuitive site and give direct access to those contests.
Tell us a little bit about these contests, and who is entering them?
Perrin Chiles: On our site, there are just over 250 contests listed right now. Anyone can enter these video contests, and we also have enter-to-win contests listed as well. Adooga lists any sort of contest where a brand is trying to engage with consumers. Our focal point is on trying to promote consumer created media, as Chris pointed out. We want to be the facilitator. We've try to enter some of these ourselves as creative types, and we love the idea of being able to have an idea or interaction with a brand, but also get the ability to get fame or fortune as a result. Consumer created advertisements are in the nascent stage, but we're finding that lots of people for various reasons want to have their fifteen minutes of fame, see their video on a commercial, or see it gets a bunch of hits--or, quite honestly, win some of the very lucrative contests. For example, Hines Ketchup just had a contest where they awarded $57,000 to user generated commercials. Over the last six months, there has been a significant uptick in the number of contests, and brands that are promoting them, and seeing the value. Consumers are also seeing the financial rewards from winning these contests.
Chris Sherril: With the interactive model, with video and mobile technology, it's very easy to enter contests. In particular, it's great at reaching the male demographic between 15 and 35, which is a really hard demographic to go after. There's also many different ways to use them for product research or for their viral capabilities.
Why did you two start the company, and what's your background?
Chris Sherril: I was in the restaurant business, and came from Nashville, where I owned two quick serve units there similar to Chipotle--high quality food, quickly. I started getting into the technology space, and liked to think I was the first to use mobile and text advertising for my restaurants. I met Perrin when he came down to Nashville for something else--and it happened his sister was a very good customer. I was also itching to move west to get into advertising and technology.
Perrin Chiles: My background is in finance. I worked at Silverlake Partners and Elevation Partners, and then took a writing sabbatical to visit my sister and to spread my wings creatively. I returned from Nashville, and started a documentary film company. We saw our first success when we produced Autism: The Musical, which is right now on HBO. That said, I have always been into entrepreneurial things. One thing I learned from the finance world, and in particular from Silver Lake and Elevation, is that both companies are very good at spotting large trends and are very disciplined in targeting investments. I really believe that with online advertising the way it is, there's an increase in the way that brands are trying to reach consumers. We're in the early stages of an increase in brand and consumer interaction, and the great thing is the Internet is a facilitator. With technology costs decreasing, it's a lot easier for teens and young adults to pick up a camera phone, or get a nice HD camera, and there are lots of ways to get them to quasi-professional outlets. What we want to do is to help facilitate that process.
Chris Sherril: As an expansion to what Perrin is addressing, we believe this is continuing to grow, and that there are so many companies involved in this space--from interactive agencies, to a brand itself--that the world needs a service like ours. We are trying to service and help everyone--we're utilitarian, noncompetitive, and are trying to facilitate and grow this segment of online advertising.
How do you make money on Adooga, and what's the business model here?
Chris Sherril: We definitely have a long tail model. Right now, we are focused on becoming the door to the contest world. As soon as we can establish we have enough traffic, we will implement traditional search engine marketing such as keywords or pay per post, or featured placement. We have lots of different ideas, but right now we're just trying to become the front end to the contest world.
Perrin Chiles: Right now, the only thing is to get people to our site. We're not discussing metrics or financials, but we're really excited. We're excited not only by the traffic to the site, but the interest we're getting from large brands in terms of sponsorships. That definitely is an encouraging sign.
How is the site funded?
Perrin Chiles: We have bootstrapped the company with private funding to date, and haven't sought venture capital backing. Personally, I don't think all companies need venture capital funding, though there are pros and cons in a business model where you are not looking for venture capital backing.
Thanks, and good luck!