A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A NEF FELLOW – Corbyn Munnik
Name: Corbyn Munnik
NEF Class of: 2013
Currently working on: Sliide (Co-Founder)
Tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since leaving the NEF programme in 2012?
After my year’s placement with NEF I started working on TapNow full time, a company I had been working on with a fellow NEFer throughout our time on the programme. TapNow specialised in managing interactive mobile technologies for out-of-home media companies. Come the end of November 2013, after a big sales push we were still battling to gain any sort of traction so we called it dead in the water. To our delight however, a few months later we got some calls asking for our service, and to date we have managed campaigns for the likes of Ebay and Sony Entertainment.
I then started working on Sliide full-time, an idea I had been toying with for a couple of months. Finances weren’t good so I started the uphill battle of securing funding. I firstly bagged myself a co-founder that was, at the time, in a good job. We agreed he would split his salary to allow me to work full-time and try to get him out of his job as soon as possible. After recovering from the knock of being rejected from the Start-up Loans initiative, (a scheme that was giving money to anyone and everyone at the time!) we then applied to the majority of the accelerators in London and got some great feedback. The Sirius Programme offered us a place on their programme. The decision to accept was a no-brainer after considering the amount of financial support we would receive and the fact that they were the only accelerator that took no equity. Through the programme we are now backed by the UKTI, placed on the Accelerator Academy and based at the Innovation Warehouse.
In brief, Sliide is an opt-in ad network that puts brands content on the smartphone lock screen, giving them the ‘first impression’ on the fastest growing point of sale, the mobile. It supports links to rich media content, online shops and voucher redemption; all of which can be pushed to social media; making it the most engaging and rewarding mobile platform to advertise on.
Users get to discover and engage with cool content such as blogs, brands, events, trailers, apps and offers via their lock screen, and earn money on a revenue share basis for doing so.
What was the inspiration behind this? Where did you get the idea?
The idea has come a long way since inception. However, the initial concept actually came about largely due to the problems facing TapNow. The fact that we were reliant on peoples’ phones having a certain technology, the user being educated about the technology, not to mention then the user interacting at a certain time when there was the correct media near them, all meant that engagement was low.
I saw that utilising the lockscreen to distribute content could overcome all of these issues.
How’s it going at the moment?
Sliide has been asked to be a part of the IDEALondon Sprint from the 19th of May where we will have a full working product and access to 40,000 students to test with before launching in June. We have been successful in on-boarding a number of innovative brands and agencies that are providing us with great content for our trial. If their success metrics are hit, which we strongly believe they will be, these parties will become our first paying customers.
We still need more exciting brands to work with so are always looking for introductions…
We are now SEIS certified, have a pre-determined test group within our target market, and have a number of brands on-board. The next step is to hit our KPIs with these brands and be revenue generating at launch.
With paying customers, a small pool of users through our test, and our newly awarded SEIS certificate, we are looking to raise seed investment in the coming months. Next up is the launch, and that means getting more users. Over and above our in-app ‘member-get-member’ incentives and marketing efforts we are fortunate enough to be working with NACUE to raise awareness amongst our initial target market of 16-25 year olds, through a lecture series providing an insight into our journey so far.
How did your time with NEF help prepare you for what you’re doing now?
There are three major points here. Firstly, the training from NEF gave me a good understanding of start-ups; when to raise, how to raise and where entrepreneurs could be caught out, which has played a significant role in building trust amongst prospect investors. Secondly, the amount of exposure I got whilst on my placement has let me confidently approach senior decision makers at big corporations and sell to them. Lastly, the contacts; I have been cheeky enough to ask for a lot of intros and have been fortunate enough to get meetings and maintain ongoing relationships.
Some people argue that running your own company at a young age is a step too far – do you think it’s a disadvantage or an advantage to start business at a young age, and why?
There is definitely merit in having more commercial experience under your belt before starting a business. However, there are so many advantages of starting a business early on. I tend to look at success early on in one’s career in terms of the amount being learnt. In my opinion you can’t get a steeper learning curve than when you are starting a business for yourself. I also see starting a business at this age as incredibly low risk; if everything flopped next month, because of how much I have learnt and am still learning, I could, if I HAD to, step into a job. Seth Godin sums this up well by saying “studying entrepreneurship without doing it is like studying the appreciation of music without listening to it”.
What advice would you give to someone starting out on the NEF programme, or indeed any young aspiring entrepreneur?
The key bit of advice I would give is that you need to prove yourself at every opportunity. In terms of the placement, starting NEFers have to realise that it is not a unanimous decision by all employees within the company to give you a placement, and it is highly likely that some members of staff will have presumptuous misconceptions about you. In order to get the most out of your placement and the NEF it is important to recognise this early, and it is up to you to manage the process of cognitive dissonance.
Where do you want to be in a couple of years?
Sliide has an ambitious vision! In 2 years time we see Sliide making the smartphone lock screen common real estate for advertisers in the UK. We are currently exploring emerging markets such as South American and South Africa, and see Sliide shining some light on the buying habits of these emerging markets. To achieve this we will have to form partnerships with local Telcos, of which we have already engaged in initial conversations.