In this week’s Innovation Expert Series interview, we’re getting up close and personal with the CEO and Co-Founder of Wrapify, James Heller.
New to RE:INVENTION’s blog? Our biweekly Innovation Expert Series features interviews with key executives at small to midsize companies that are notably disrupting, transforming, and innovating within their respective industries or markets.
Wrapify is building a disruptive Internet of Things (IoT) crowdsourced advertising platform that connects drivers and brands to create powerful on-vehicle advertising. The San Diego based company pays drivers $400 to $600 a month to temporarily “wrap” their cars with mobile ads while providing meaningful metrics to brand advertisers via Wrapify’s proprietary app.
Like Uber and Lyft, Wrapify’s business model capitalizes on the “sharing economy” (aka the “sweat your assets” economy). Under CEO James Heller’s leadership, Wrapify graduated early from San Diego tech startup incubator EvoNexus in June.
RE: For those folks who aren’t yet aware of your startup company, can you give us a brief background about yourself and Wrapify?
Heller: I have a heavy background in B2B Digital Marketing and I have a passion for speed. Out of Home advertising has always fascinated me and I think the sharing/crowdsourced economy needed a market leader to pave the way for individuals to earn extra cash by advertising on their car.
Wrapify is a disruptive advertising platform connecting drivers and brands to create powerful on-vehicle advertising. Through its proprietary mobile application and technology, Wrapify gives drivers an easy source of extra income, plus the power to choose the marketer and “look”: full, partial or panel advertising. Brands receive the security of control and benefit of trackable results. Ironclad controls ensure Wrapify’s powerful and intuitive platform protects both drivers and brands, while every member of the Wrapify Network ecosystem passes certification before they touch and transform a vehicle. Wrapify is the easiest way to make money on the road short of finding it in the street.
RE: Where did you get the original inspiration for your idea? Do you recall the initial idea spark™?
Heller: I assumed this concept already exists, but I later found out that many have tried and failed. We believe we have the missing component that this basic concept needs to be socially viable while also providing brands with the feedback loop they need to entrust that this is a positive way to get brand impressions in real life.
RE: It’s tough to get from initial idea spark to implementable idea™. Did you utilize any specific “lean startup” techniques to develop/test/launch Wrapify? If yes, how? If not, why not?
Heller: Yes, I believe we subscribed to the lean startup methodology. We created an MVP (minimum viable product) and tested our hypothesis before we closed out our seed round. We were bootstrapped for many months before we raised a single dime.
RE: Did you utilize any “design thinking” techniques?
Heller: I am a big believer in less is more. Simplistic, minimalistic design is a core component to more than just the way Wrapify looks on the surface, we take it into the supply chain of our business and even many of the processes that power the lifeline of the business.
Wrapify Team Members in Action
RE: Describe your company’s biggest challenge to date. How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?
Heller: So far, getting big, national advertisers to leverage our platform and realize actual value and brand lift has been our #1 focus. Petco, Quest Nutrition, TriNet and Harrah’s Resorts have all experienced the power of our platform and are coming back for more.
RE: How does your team promote internal and external innovation?
Heller: If you are touting your breakthrough technology, internal and external innovation is not a choice, it’s a necessity. We are constantly looking for new ways to empower our drivers and provide value to our advertisers via innovative technologies added to the platform. Internally, we are constantly questioning why an age old practices are still used. Comically, we do everything we can to be a fax free, paper free company. Ha!
RE: Have you found yourself having to pivot or reinvent aspects of your business since you started? How have you done so — and managed change?
Heller: We are constantly making small pivots to achieve product/market fit. We monitor how our drivers leverage features within our app and the requests we get from advertisers quite regularly. One of my rules is, if three different people complain about or raise awareness to an issue with a feature, that’s enough to take action to make a change. Don’t wait for dozens or even hundreds of people to tell you your product sucks. Listen close to the early signals and make a change.
RE: If you were forced to choose, which do you think is MOST important for a company’s long run success in your industry: great product, great people, or great execution?
Heller: All three are critical but if I were to order them from most to least important; I would put execution first, people second and product third. It’s near impossible to execute if you don’t have the latter two.
RE: What do you think is most important for your company to do in order to keep up with the rapid changes in technology?
Heller: Don’t get so immersed in the microcosm that is your business to not notice the innovation and new technologies emerging outside your business.
RE: So…what’s next for Wrapify?
Heller: Stay tuned to find out!
That’s a wrap on RE:INVENTION’s Innovation Expert Series interview with Wrapify. Many thanks to James Heller for sharing his insights. Look for our next Expert interview in two weeks time, right here on RE:INVENTION’s Everyday Inventive Blog.