During our April event, StartupGrind Tel Aviv hosted Shaul Olmert, CEO and founder of Playbuzz. As a platform Playbuzz provides a storytelling platform for publishers and brands ( founded in 2012, raised $66M to date, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars).
Olmert shared his journey, and how Playbuzz became an overnight success, growing from 3,000 users in the first month to over 50M within six months with no advertising budget. They decided to solely use Facebook.
In Olmert’s words, the story of Playbuzz shows how "content is still king!"
Olmert shared with us several tips for entrepreneurs:
Don’t lose faith:
Olmert almost lost faith in himself and went for soul-searching. He had to isolate all the noise and ask himself what he really wanted to do, and what he was good at. This period is what led him to start Playbuzz, that came from the heart.
The big picture:
The main role of the CEO is to remind everyone WHY they are doing what they're doing – making sure the team preserves the business focus, reminding them what they are trying to achieve.
Choose what NOT to do:
There is a certain pace in which an organization can grow, so you need to figure out what you are banking on. Each day you have to choose what you are NOT going to do, not only what you will.
Don't let anyone tell you that a market is dead: Contrary to other founders, Olmert thinks that if you really believe in something, you should do it. Even if others tell you (as he was told), that there is no addressable market. As it turned out, Playbuzz was simply ahead of the times in terms of interactive content.
Partnerships: choose the right investors:
Choosing the right partners on your journey as a startup is crucial. Choosing investors is like choosing partners for life – you want someone who will believe in your vision, and someone you can get along with.
When hiring, don't focus on the fluff: Don't focus on where they went to school and what experience they have. It's much more important that they understand the product and the grand vision, and that they really want to work with you.
Once a company starts growing, invest most of your time in the people: Hiring employees is like giving someone else the keys to your car – you have to trust them. This is why Olmert spends much of his time interviewing new employees, and getting to know those who work for him.
Raise money when you can, not when you need it: Olmert advises that fundraising is a balance. You shouldn't raise money when you are desperate -- you want to come with leverage. However, you should also avoid raising too much money, because the more money you have, the more money you will spend (and at times you will do spend unnecessarily).
“Communication is the most important things in human life. And so much of it is done digitally, so if you can improve the communication, you can affect people lives. It’s beyond the industry and making more money, it’s about doing something that matters to people”
About Shaul Olmert:
Olmert grew up in Jerusalem. He was raised by a politician father and an artist mother. He took an early interest in movie-making and cinema. He served in the Israeli army creating instructive video content and then studied design and communications in Germany and the US. He worked as Biz Dev for Oberon Media and was later VP of digital at MTV.
When he returned to Israel, he realized he still didn’t have a clear picture of what he really wanted to do, or what he was really good at. Playbuzz is essentially the result of this soul-searching. Playbuzz enables its customers to distribute and monetize interactive stories that create better audience engagement.
The idea of Playbuzz resulted from the understanding that user attention equals monetization. Once great traffic is established, more advertisers want to advertise alongside the engaging content.