Author: Yitzi Weiner
“Building a solid product generally takes two to three times as much time and effort as you initially expect. This is particularly true when building a product where you have a clear end-goal in mind, but you’re the first to pave the way in achieving that product or goal. Overestimate on the time and resources needed.”
I had the pleasure to interview Tim Koschella. As Partner & Co-Founder of HitFox Group and CEO of AppLift, he has been working with 500+ app companies to acquire and retain users for their apps, among them about 90% of the worlds’ leading app publishers and developers. Tim is a thought leader in international performance marketing with a particular focus on the mobile and programmatic sector. Tim had been an Internet entrepreneur for several years prior to co-founding HitFox Group and AppLift and German-based eLearning platform Lecturio.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
It’s actually a funny story. I started AppLift because I believed that mobile would rule the world (over desktop). The first touchpoint I had with mobile was when I was 15. There were no smartphones then — I had a Nokia 3210. My father offered me money to manually input 500+ contacts into his Palmtop. He paid me something like 30 cents per address. That was my first experience with the world of mobile. In 2008, I had a windows phone — my first smartphone. That was when I truly discovered the power of mobile, with its endless apps, organizational tools, and ability to sync the phone to the computer.
My first company was not a mobile company. I hadn’t thought of mobile as a platform yet; it was before mobile became mainstream. But I soon realized that mobile was going to change the world because it’s a one-to-one experience. It’s personal. I was really passionate about the app ecosystem — the open system. I started AppLift for that reason … To allow developers to market their apps, attract users and increase their reach!
AppLift is a technology company that helps mobile app publishers acquire and re-engage quality users. AppLift’s programmatic media buying platform, DataLift 360, provides access to all automated media supply sources in the market, reaching over a billion users per month. AppLift works with 500+ leading global app advertisers across all verticals, such as King, Zynga, OLX, Glu Mobile, Myntra, Paltalk, Nexon and Tap4Fun.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
Our first conference we attended as exhibitor was Mobile World Congress in 2013, right after we started. We were on a tight budget so we had a very small booth — one chair in the big city of Berlin booth. At the time, our mascot was a fox, so we were giving out plush stuffed animal foxes. We gave out hundreds — so the conference was filled with attendees carrying around foxes. It turned out that Firefox was also at the conference launching their mobile operating system. Everyone thought the foxes we were giving out were from Mozilla, so attendees were lining up at the Mozilla booth. Mozilla had to turn away more than 100 guests in search of our little stuffed foxes.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We’ve been fortunate, through AppLift, to do quite a bit of regional work within the local communities, as well as support the funding of equipment for schools in Africa.
Furthermore, we’ve also leveraged our capabilities in the mobile space to help ShareTheMeal in the fight against global hunger. ShareTheMeal is a charity initiative supported by the United Nations’ World Food Programme to end global hunger. Through the ShareTheMeal app, anyone can donate money to feed another person in need. With just a few taps on your phone, you can donate to feed someone who’s hungry while you enjoy your own lunch. The destination of the proceeds is clearly indicated and the meals are distributed by the World Food Programme. At AppLift, we were so happy and proud to support the ShareTheMeal initiative by helping to distribute and promote the app for free, as well as encouraging our employees to share meals and donating extra on their behalf. What better way to use our expertise than to help others?
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I launched my Start-Up” and why?
- Being aware and prepared that you need an immense level of emotional stability. Starting a company comes with big highs and big lows. It will happen sooner or later, no matter what. I wasn’t prepared for the lows. So stability is important to be able to stay focused and keep going. It’s not always a honeymoon — be prepared for a ride!
- Make sure your inner management team is composed of complementary (not necessarily on education and background) team members. Character is so important when you’re creating a well-rounded team. You need the analytical person, the extrovert, etc.
- Be prepared to compete with the very best and biggest companies for talent. You’ll be going up against companies with deep pockets. A startup will need good payroll; as the company grows, it’s important to have strong individual talents in key positions. Be prepared to hire externally and compensate well. Keep in mind the bootstrap mentality versus scale-up mentality.
- Building a solid product generally takes two to three times as much time and effort as you initially expect. This is particularly true when building a product where you have a clear end-goal in mind, but you’re the first to pave the way in achieving that product or goal. Overestimate on the time and resources needed.
- Stick to your vision and business plan to produce a product that fits a market need. It’s easy to let the overall vision fall by the wayside when you’re working tirelessly to cater to individual clients. Know who your client is, but also who your client is not — make sure you’re working with clients who align with the need you are filling.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, and Tech Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, or I might be able to introduce you.
I would love to sit down with the Founder of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma. He has such an interesting background and career path — starting as a teacher, then becoming an entrepreneur and the CEO of one of the largest tech companies in the world. I’d love to hear firsthand how he built his company, from where he started to where he is today.