Meet Alexei Chemenda: 8 months ago he was still a 4th year computer engineer student in Paris and is now Co-founder of MotionLead, an animated mobile advertising company in San Francisco living the American dream. He is twenty-three years old and already a fierce entrepreneur that found his way through the Silicon Valley and the tech industry.
Tell us about yourself
I am a computer engineer student at EPITA, a great computer Science engineering university in France. But I am currently in San Francisco and co-founder of MotionLead, We display animated and interactive advertising on mobile. I moved to San Francisco 8 months ago for the company and to expand to the US market.
What services does your company provide?
MotionLead allows advertisers to display ads on mobile more efficiently. We developed a technology that enables ads to be animated on mobile without blocking the user navigation. We therefor have a much higher click-through rate and conversion rate.
How did you come to the idea of MotionLead ?
My two co-founders had developed an app called Meme Reader for iPhone that they monetised through ads. They were really frustrated with the user experience provided by classic ads (banners and interstitials) and decided to develop a way to monetise their app more efficiently and creatively through animated ads.
Tell us more about starting a company during university.
It was very positive for us. Arthur, Louis and myself were all students in the same class at EPITA. We were working together late at night on school and side projects. I think it’s a very natural way to start knowing your co-founders before launching the company. At EPITA, we had a lot of help and support from the school to make our project successful, and it’s hard to find that level of help outside of school. Also, since EPITA is a top university in Europe, I was confident my co-founders had great technical skills.
How did your company find financing?
We use the cash generated by the app Meme Reader to launch Motion Lead. We also started generating revenue pretty quickly.
How does your company generate revenue today?
We have a two-sided market: The first one is the advertisers. They pay us to display ads on other developers’ apps. The second side of the market is those developers. We need to find them, have them integrate our technology and we pay them per impression and we keep a commission on the payments.
Let’s take an example: imagine a brand X wants to advertise on application Y. X pays us to display the ads. We pay Y to show these ads to their audience and we keep a commission.
You entered an incubator called Y combinator, tell us more about that.
First of all, an Incubator is a company that helps you start and develop your business. They usually have advisors that can help you on the idea, the product and the execution. In our case, the Y combinator is one of the best incubators on the world. They give you 120K and mentorship in exchange for 7% of your company. It was a life-changing experience getting into the Y Combintaor, for a few reasons: since we are French we did not have contacts in the US, Y combinatory allowed us to be introduced to a lot of potential clients. They also gave us very smart advises on strategy, hiring and fundraising. And last but not least you are surrounded by 150 smart entrepreneurs that are all facing the same problem as you are.
Do you feel your young age has any influence on starting your business?
Yes because we were able to hustle more than anybody else and because we had a vision without limits. I think people with more experience tend to see obstacles where as we were more careless that lead us maybe further than expected.
What can you say about the Tech industry?
I think that people in the Tech industry have a open mind set and that it what allows things to move so fast. They are very receptive to any new idea and are always willing to give feedback on you project, to help out or to introduce you to the right people. It is all about connection in the Silicon Valley. People in this industry help each other and are very supportive.
What are your plans for the near future for you company?
Right now we are really focused on Brand advertisement and gaming. We will start new verticals such as real estate, utility apps and finance apps. We also plan to automate our campaign creation system to on-board new clients faster.
How would you describe yourself is a person?
I’m very energetic, I love doing a million different things; learn new things and discover new places. I am always positive and optimistic which is something that helps me a lot building the company.
What advice could you give to any entrepreneur staring a business like yours?
The most important in my opinion is to carefully pick the team, and focus is everything. Focus on the right metrics, focus on your product, the right audience.