Who are you, and what do you do?
Hi my name is Ryan Hansen, Founder & CEO of LumenAd
What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?
You have to be willing to let some fires burn.
In the world of scaling a startup, there ‘s no shortage of fires burning on any given day. Whether it’s the product, the market, financing or operational scalability, there are a never ending stream of new fires surfacing. The key is to distinguish between mission critical and non mission critical fires. Those that aren’t need to be put off for another day in order to focus your time on those that will destroy the company if left burning.
What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.
We over estimated how much we thought we knew about our customer’s decision making criteria when we launched the LumenAd platform to customers last year. If we knew then what we know know we probably would have delayed the launch of the software until additional features and functionality could be built.
It was a mistake to start marketing the software as quickly as we did. It wasnt ready. We dont regret it though and am ultimately glad we rolled it out in the way we did. It allowed us to start talking to potential customers earlier and gathering market and product feedback more quickly which, in the end, allows us to move faster in the pursuit of building products our customers find value in and are willing to pay for.
Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?
Today the world of digital advertising is unfathomably complex and fragmented. There are layers and layers of technology and middle men that, together, create an inefficient ecosystem that’s difficult for marketers to be successful in. The end result is an industry that has failed to deliver on the promise of digital – which is to put the right message in front of the right person at the right time.
This ecosystem will mature and clean itself up in ten years. There will significant consolidation resulting in a few winners and a lot of losers. Those companies that remain will do so because their focus is on simplicity, privacy, addressability, and accountability.
What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
The lens some founders see VC funding through make it appear as though raising money is more important than applying fundamentals to building a sustainable business. Venture funding is an important tool for a lot of startups but money isnt necessarily the solution to all problems.
In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?
External meeting requests from contacts who want to “get a coffee or beer”. I dont have the luxury of spending an hour “catching up”. As much as i enjoy these conversations, i dont have the time in my day to do it. I felt bad turning these requests down originally as I didn’t want to appear rude but over time have learned to be ok with it as there are more urgent work that needs to be done in the office with the team moving the company forward.
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.
This book introduced me to the importance of the “Build, Measure, Learn” concept. In the book Eric argues that the fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere. All successful startup processes should be geared to accelerate that feedback loop. This had a significant impact on helping LumenAd focus early on.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
As you go out into the world, don’t be intimated by others who have a more impressive resume or education than you. Hard work, creativity, and focus are far more important as it relates to predictors of success versus a degree from Harvard.
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
I have two that are important to me.
“Ideas are cheap. Execution is everything.”
“It’s easier to invent the future than predict it.”
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