Mutlu Dogus Yildirim (MBA 2016)

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Imagine being able advertise on any digital billboard in the world and track your campaign in real-time on each screen, through just a few clicks? Think of the advantages to advertisers, media owners and clients.

This is exactly what Mutlu Dogus Yildirim (MBA 2016) did when he launched Airsqreen, Inc. bringing the automation technologies of internet advertising industry to digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH) to provide easy-to-use technology. Mutlu discusses how he continues to reinvent the business to stay ahead of the competition and his aim to be one of the top player in disruptive DOOH advertising.

How did Airsqreen come about?

I’ve been in the advertising business for 10 years. There are very advanced internet advertising technologies, and we started with the idea of bringing similar technologies to digital-out-of-home (DOOH) advertising. For those who don't know; DOOH advertising is about digital billboards or digital screens you see at the airports, shopping malls, streets etc.

DOOH is a beautiful combination of something physical and something virtual, but it operates differently from internet advertising. In internet advertising you can click a few buttons to show ads and track your campaign progress in real-time. It made me think, why not in DOOH? 

I later realised the dynamics in internet advertising and DOOH advertising are very different. So we pivoted our product, but the starting point was about bringing advanced advertising technologies to this industry.

Now we are able to offer a platform that is both easy to use, and provides a powerful analytical tool. For advertisers there is no more collecting delayed reports from media owners one by one  and trying to merge them to make sense of your campaign. Everything is available at the touch of a button. And for media owners we can provide real-time reports to clients, just like in internet advertising. Plus you can confidently advertise on your digital screens, with an independent player verifying ads at the millisecond level.

My advice to budding entrepreneurs is to never give up. Find a solution, whatever the problem is. That is why our business is still growing from strength to strength today.

Tell us about the journey so far

It’s been a learning curve and we’ve had to be very adaptable. We’ve actually launched our business three times now!

The first time was a few years ago, when we worked with brands like Unilever. It felt great, because we sold something as soon as we started.

The second time was when we realised that although our initial idea generated revenue, it was not a recurring one. When we changed our approach to the problem, we started to work with GroupM Turkey and their clients like Alibaba Turkey. This was going very well, until COVID-19 pandemic hit us.

The third time was a few months ago. We gathered a team of 30 people from different countries, working on to become the top disruptive DOOH advertising company in more than 20 countries. It still feels great!

Mutlu Dogus Yildirim (MBA 2016) and some of this classmates at Imperial
Mutlu with his Imperial classmates and faculty

What have been the key lessons learned from the whole process?

It is vital to find the right people. Building a great team has been our biggest challenge. But I believe we have an amazing team now.

I also learned that sometimes an unexpected event (like COVID-19) may happen and may destroy your business, so be prepared. Finally; it takes time, really long time, so better be prepared mentally and financially.

And the biggest challenge?

One of the current challenges is that the DOOH advertising industry operates very inefficiently, through old-fashioned ways. The industry relies on a single data point, and that data point is provided by the seller of the service with big delays. 

Our challenge is to fix this inefficiency and change the culture by educating our market. This is a big challenge, but we’ll do it - we’ll never give up.

What has been the highlight so far?

Once the pandemic started, we had to stop our business - for many months. I thought we were finished. And now we’re back with an amazing international team, operating in 20 countries. How did that happen?

My advice to budding entrepreneurs is to never give up. Find a solution, whatever the problem is. That is why our business is still growing from strength to strength today.

How did your time at the Business School prepare you for setting up your own business?

I learned great things at the Business School. But to be honest, nothing is a substitute for real life. For me I’ve found building things in real-life is the real learning curve. My education supported me in helping me make informed and more effective decisions, but I’ve found that life doesn’t always do what the theory says!

Where do you see yourself and the business in 5 years’ time?

We’ll heal our industry, we’ll make it much better and more efficient. I think this will help us to become a unicorn in 5 years, and I’ll be a grateful person to be part of this story. 

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About Celia Pearce

Alumni Communications Executive
Celia is responsible for all the communications to Business School alumni and this includes the monthly newsletter, alumni profiles and features, alumni blogs, event marketing, the website and social media. Please contact Celia if you have any queries regarding communications to alumni of the Business School.