Still under the age of 30, Taykey Founder and CEO Amit Avner’s entrepreneurial roots trace back to when he was just 14. In 1999, Avner built a search engine named WittySearch. Four years later Avner created a social note-taking application – Witty Notes. In January of 2009, he started advertising technology company Taykey, which “helps to make advertisers more real-time by delivering media based on what is topical for their audience.”
The company recently announced another $6 million in funding and has attracted a total of $17 million in funding over the past 5 years. They are expected to use those funds to double the number of employees from 50 to over 100 in the next 8-12 months. Although the company is growing at a tremendous pace, Avner remains very modest.
Q: What is one thing in your career and work that you want to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
A: “I don’t feel like I’ve really accomplished anything yet, so there are too many to say. That’s a question for Over60CEO.com.”
It’s clear that Avner remains focused on the success and growth of Taykey and not his personal accolades. When asked about challenges he has been faced with and overcome, Avner replied, “One ongoing challenge when you have a new solution is the need to educate the market on what you do and why your solution is valuable. You can’t expect your value to be self-evident, you have to work hard to find the right language to tell your story and you have to tell it every day.”
Read the full interview with Taykey CEO Amit Avner below.
Michael Luchies: Tell us a little bit about Taykey.
Amit Avner: Taykey is an ad tech company that places our clients’ messages next to the topical content that has their audience’s attention at any given moment. We developed a listening technology that sweeps about 2 billion data points a day from social networks, blogs, and traditional sites in order to understand what topics a client’s target audience is engaging with right now. We feed that data into our proprietary media buying technology to place ads against those topics in real time, so advertisers can always be where attention is focused.
ML: How did you get started with Taykey? Have you always been entrepreneurial?
AA: I have always been interested in building things. When I was 14 years old I built a search engine that got some substantial traction. A few years ago, I noticed that with the popularity of online data sharing (status, tweets, etc.) there is a huge opportunity to really know what people care about. And I realized that if we aggregate it in the right way and make it actionable, it will be powerful for marketers. This is how Taykey started.
ML: Online advertising seems to be a saturated marketplace. How have you been able to carve out a niche with Taykey?
AA: Ad tech is definitely a crowded market, with a lot of companies that are just like each other chasing after the same media buyers and the same budgets. The good news for us is that we are the only company that is serving ads based on the minute-by-minute shifts in audience attention. We’re like the Doubleclick for right now.
ML: Taykey has over 50 employees and just a couple of weeks ago raised another $6 million in funding. What has been the key to Taykey’s success and growth?
AA: Very simple: you succeed by building a strong, differentiated product that solves a real problem. As much as brands want to be agile and real-time, they haven’t been able to achieve that at scale with their existing solutions. We have grown because we have solved that problem for them and we will keep growing because we get better at it every day and have additional products in the pipeline to build on our lead.
ML: In the past five years with Taykey, what has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
AA: There are always challenges that at the time look big, and then when you pass them there’s even a bigger challenge to handle. So, unfortunately there is no one absolute big challenge, they keep coming. And that’s the fun of it! One ongoing challenge when you have a new solution is the need to educate the market on what you do and why your solution is valuable. You can’t expect your value to be self-evident, you have to work hard to find the right language to tell your story and you have to tell it every day.
ML: Continuing on with barriers and hurdles that a company has to manage, what’s the most important thing you can do to protect your business?
AA: Henry Ford said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” The best thing you can do is stay focused. Product is the key. You need to understand your market and what they want. As long as you have a fit and you build something they need and can’t get anywhere else, your obstacles will only come from yourself.
ML: You started your first company at a young age; do you think it’s an advantage or disadvantage to start a business at a young age and why?
AA: I don’t think it’s either. It was a hobby that became bigger than a hobby. My friend Emerson Spartz started MuggleNet at 12, and now it’s a 50 people media company (SpartzMedia). It’s just about doing what you love.
ML: What is one thing in your career and work that you want to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
AA: I don’t feel like I’ve really accomplished anything yet, so there are too many to say. That’s a question for Over60CEO.com.
ML: What is your best piece of advice for people under the age of 30 to do right now?
AA: Do something you love. You’ll be awesome at it, it won’t feel like work, and everything else will solve itself.