An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Justin Kennedy, the co-founder and COO of Sonobi, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Sonobi – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
We started Sonobi because we saw an opportunity to bring cutting-edge digital advertising technology to the small and medium-sized publishers. Before Sonobi, we were publishers and we saw that, at the time, programmatic digital advertising tech was only available to the largest media companies. After we saw the success we had on our own properties with our own proprietary tools, we thought: “If we needed to build this ourselves, there are thousands of publishers who need the same tools”.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
The pace of innovation in this industry is relentless. We have to make sure that we are constantly innovating and staying ahead of the curve. If you fall into complacency you’ll wake up in the very near future with the market having left you behind. Also, when we were looking for the right venture partner, being headquartered in Florida was a tough selling point in an industry that’s concentrated in Silicon Valley/Alley. We were able to quickly dispel any concerns when we showed them how working in Central Florida gave us access to top-tier engineering talent coming out of the universities here and offered the operational efficiency of building a business in an entrepreneur-friendly location.
What does the future hold for Sonobi?
We want to bring digital media technology back to focusing on the consumer. Sonobi has always been the most innovative company in this space, having invented header-bidding (a technology designed to sell digital advertising space used by over 90% of the world’s publishers) and the first platform designed to provide addressable media buys outside of the walled gardens of Facebook and Google. We believe that it’s been a long time coming to bring the focus back on ensuring that the consumer is receiving the right value from consuming digital content. Digital advertising keeps the internet free and we want to make sure we help the industry evolve to a more consumer-friendly version of itself.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Winter Park?
We love it. I honestly believe that being in Winter Park has been our secret weapon during numerous business dealings. Whether it’s an out of town hire that we bring to the office, or a potential investor looking to get a feel for Sonobi, our Winter Park location has really been our ace in the hole. Almost everyone hears Central Florida and thinks Disney and Universal. They’re surprised to visit our location and realize how it has great access to world-class amenities.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Make sure that you are open to learning something new every single day. Nobody expects you to be an expert in every field, but as an entrepreneur, you have to be able to educate yourself and gain a working knowledge of every aspect of your business.