What it takes to lead in the US: Member Q&A
Dominic Joseph, Captify’s co-founder and CEO, had absolutely no trepidation about breaking into the US market when he moved to New York with his family. Now he says the advertising industry search intelligence market leader is growing sales in the US by 100 percent a year and he cites US expansion as a defining experience for the global company.
How can a founder kick-start US expansion?
A founder going over to the US can prove advantageous because you can create excitement and get deals done quickly as Americans have a lot of time for founders and CEOs. I did much of the selling in the first year. We experienced a flatness after the great start because we hadn’t fully considered how long it would take to upskill the team to follow on from me. We didn’t have a tremendous amount of resources to nurture our talent at that stage.
What measures did you put in place to grow your US team?
We’d thought that our US sales and commercial staff would be up to speed following the initial explosive activity, but we realised that we needed more structure than that. That’s why I brought over one of our best managers, Steve Pereira, from London. He created a really good operational structure with better staff management than I could provide. And he’s continued to drive growth in the US since.
Has hiring your local staff tested your business?
Hiring staff in the UK is our bread and butter but hiring in the US is a real challenge because everyone looks great on paper and says the right thing in interviews, but it’s very difficult to identify what’s beneath that. It takes a lot of experience of working with Americans to understand what’s true and what’s not. Ultimately, our US team is outstanding as they share our values, which in part have been shaped by the US experience.
How are you adding senior US expertise to your business?
The initial stage was founder-led, then Steve led the structure and scaling, and now we’re entering into a new phase where we’ll prepare for a US president to take the reins. A US president needs the structure and team behind them and it’s not great to have someone in that role with just a small team of three or four because they would become too focused on the operational stuff. But with operations executing really well, a president can elevate the business even more. We have also hired various other seniors, such as a VP Publisher Partnerships and VP sales, and they bring credibility to the US operation.
How has appointing a chairman shaped your business?
We aimed big and went for US media titan Tom Rogers who ran TiVo for over a decade and founded CNBC. I work with him very closely and I’m learning more than I’ve ever learned in my life, not only about the US market but how interact and negotiate with Americans and deal with bigger-scale business challenges. I’d say to anyone who is building a business in the US to go for it and find an amazing chairman. People of his stature can be excited by start-up companies that are coming through.
How does the US shape your global business?
I work the first week of each month in New York. With the US being so far ahead of the rest of the world as a market, the learnings stem through to all our other markets, keeping us one step ahead.
The US drives your business forward. The competition is strong so you have to work hard to differentiate. And the products are more advanced, more invested in so if you keep ahead of the Americans, you’ll keep ahead of every other territory.
“Ultimately, expanding into the US is going to be different for every business, so you have to go there and work it out. Entrepreneurs by their very nature should work out what they’re up against, find the solutions and then resource it.”