Six years in an ever-changing, decade-old industry is a feat in itself. May of 2019 marked another AdAction anniversary in the world of mobile performance marketing. To celebrate, we sat down with CEO Brian Fox as he reflects on his inspiration for the company, the journey, and how he continues to drive us into the future.
What inspired you to start AdAction?
I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but there’s that moment when you convince yourself that it’s not just an idea; that you are actually going to take the jump. I do remember the launch, at a hot dog stand, where I started to put things on paper. Hot day, sunglasses, wooden picnic table, scratching what these concepts would look like. I had three general ideas — lead generation, local advertising, and mobile app marketing — and launched all three conceptually in my head. I started making phone calls to see which one would take off.
When did you first realize “this is working”?
I didn’t take a salary for the first year and a half. Everything we made went right back into the business. I didn’t realize “it was working” until we moved into our current Denver office in 2016 with 20 employees. But I don’t remember taking a breath because “it was working.” It was more of a tiger-team feel. Now I can take a breath because we have so many great people who own their own part of the business. Back then everyone was owning every piece — no one had a lane.
One thing that I’m still amazed as to how it happened, is that somehow along the way my brother joined. I didn’t see that coming. He does an amazing job running the operations and finances from Austin, and that allows me to sleep at night. There is not a more trustworthy person in the world to ensure that our success and finances are stable.
How do you find inspiration to keep the company moving forward?
Definitely from the team. I’m humbled by all the great individuals who work here. We have dedicated and smart team members who are really good at what they do, but everyone is also really, really nice. Watching good people grow in their careers and feel challenged is inspiring. But also watching people accomplish life goals, like moving to a new state, buying cars, getting pets, investing in houses, and getting married. And it’s amazing how much it happens, too. All these people coming to Denver and Austin from all over the country and finding their roots in life and seeing how that ties to finding roots in their career.
What has been the greatest learning experience?
I thought that I could be an entrepreneur earlier in my career because I had a good work ethic and internal ability, but I don’t believe I would have been prepared for this moment back then. One thing I realized is that knowledge is power. While working at other companies, I found out what I liked, what I didn’t like, and I became a more mature person. I would’ve been too young and immature to grow a business then. Now I realize that this business is bigger than me. My idea of growing a business would’ve been 50 versions of myself. And now I know that different perspectives and management styles are important and necessary. You can’t run at 100 mph a day without getting a team burnt out.
Would you change anything?
I don’t know that I would because it’s all about the journey. Those are vulnerable moments, the lefts and rights, and the ups and downs. We’ve been so lucky to be so successful and now that we are at this point in the journey, all the blemishes along the way are valuable keepsakes.
Do you have a favorite memory?
Our first-ever staff retreat in Austin when we attended Austin City Limits and got “turnt up” when Icona Pop came on to play “I Love It.”
What does tomorrow look like?
I think that at our core, we’re performance marketers, and there’s a lot of scale in that. Right now, our focus is on apps and app discovery, but quickly we’re realizing that we’re getting into entertainment, multimedia, and social interactive engagement. Our clients following that route, too. Wherever these users are, where these next-generation millennials go, or whatever this new platform is, I think you’ll find us there in the performance marketing aspect. We’re building our tech department and leveraging more data to make better decisions, and that’s a core part of the business that won’t disappear.
On the culture side, I think as we continue to grow the question will be “how do we keep the culture?” It’s bigger than me, so I think we’ll all be responsible for it. We hire a lot of genuine and smart people, so our culture will be stable even with all the different backgrounds and personalities — we all get along.
We’ve come a long way since our conceptual launch at a hot dog stand six years ago, but we’re always looking ahead to our next big milestone. Learn more about AdAction’s accomplishments and evolving company culture, check out our Careers page!