Startup Review: ADstruc


ADstrucI had the pleasure of meeting with John and Josh from ADstruc last week. Their company is a Boulder Summer 2010 TechStars team hailing from New York City. We talked about their experience so far in Boulder this summer, what’s been happening at TechStars, and some other general tidbits.

The Team

Both John and Josh are Midwesterners born and raised. John grew up in Michigan and attended college in Maryland. A prolific amateur ping-pong player, he recently won a tournament while back in NYC and will be playing in France sometime this summer. Josh is an Ohioan turned big city guy. He went to undergrad in Ohio and law school in Florida after a stint as a professional drummer. What little free time he has these days is spent prepping for his wedding later this summer.

The Business

ADstruc is an online buying platform in the form of an auction and listing based marketplace with the goal of improving the profitability of buying and selling outdoor advertising. John and Josh recently worked together at a large brand licensing agency and John got involved in outdoor advertising while running his own consulting gig on the side. Outdoor advertising, also known as OOH (out of home) advertising to industry professionals, is a massive market at around $6B annually. In terms of competition, both John and Josh acknowledged that it exists but view it in a very healthy way – as validation of their market and a benchmark to improve upon.

The Moves

We touched on two specific topics during the discussion that relate to their potential for success. They were timing and customer development. After developing ADstruc and speaking with customers for a few months, coupled with the TechStars opportunity, John and Josh realized it was time to quit their jobs and pursue ADstruc full time. By working with customers from the beginning, they were assured that they were building a product that the outdoor advertising industry wanted and would pay for.

On Techstars and Mentors

So far, they have both been blown away by their whirlwind experience at TechStars, especially in terms of the “invaluable mentor feedback” and interaction between teams. During the mentor dating period, ADstruc was working along with the other teams to find people who have useful input and connections to help their companies grow. One of the best mentor presentations for them was by Eric Ries on customer development as it related so much to what they were already doing.

As far as the environment in the Bunker goes, John and Josh both attribute a lot of their progress so far this summer to the wealth of knowledge being shared between teams. They’re helping people out with their sales experience and getting tons of knowledge drops from others on solving technical and user interface problems and questions.

On Boulder

According to them, being in Boulder this summer has helped them immeasurably. Getting away from the go-go-go atmosphere of the Big Apple has allowed them time to focus as well as “… given us the opportunity to relax, take a break from our usual responsibilities, and think about the answer to questions twice. Not to mention the relatively cheap rent, comfortable lifestyle, and clean air.”

Some Other Quotes And Tidbits

  • “Without a program such as TechStars, starting a company as a first time entrepreneur, even in New York City, is like starting a company in Alaska” – John
  • “We’d be crazy to not try to bring some of the community aspect of TechStars and Boulder back to NYC” – Josh
  • Everlater has been really inspirational to them as they go through TechStars and learn what they should be capitalizing on while in the program
  • “Josh and I are the only two people in TechStars this summer with Blackberries” – John
  • Blue is both John and Josh’s favorite color

If you get a chance to meet these guys this summer in Boulder or later in New York, take it. They’re funny, skilled, and out there making waves.

About the Author:
Loving Boulder. Working at Quickleft.

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4 Comments:

  1. virtuallybing June 22, 2010

    John's point relating starting a company without TechStars to starting a company in Alaska is an interesting one. Big cities may have lots of capital and expertise, but is doesn't count for much if you're an outsider to that network of resources looking in. Nice post.

  2. andrewhyde July 08, 2010

    Great post Ryan.

    Love all the people behind this company.

  3. John Fischer July 09, 2010

    The “move to Boulder” aspect got me thinking about how my daily life complicates everything I do. Not that I have a choice at this stage in my life, but I realize how much I would accomplish if I could focus on JUST ONE THING for 3 months.

    ……instead of running a business, starting a new business, raising 3 kids, taking care of 2 houses, french lessons, exercise, eating healthy, cleaning gardening, Rockies Games, camping, hiking, riding, snow season sports…. etc…

  4. drbillnye July 10, 2010

    Great post, would love to see more 'move to boulder' experiences. I still don't think they'll actually be able to leave come end of summer, seriously, have you been to new york? After boulder how could you bring yourself to live there again?

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