André Ferraz is the CEO and co-founder of In Loco Media, considered to be one of the ten most promising advertising startups by the Cannes Lions awards in 2015. Aged 25, he graduated in computer science from the Federal University of Pernambuco. His entrepreneurial career began when he was 19, accompanying the academic work done by his father, a researcher in Ubiquitous Computing, and applying the theory to the creation of what the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and Microsoft say is the world’s most precise geolocation platform.
He has spoken at events such as Cannes Lions (twice), Brazil Forum UK, Proxxima, iAB Ad-tech, Forum MMA Brasil, Forum Mobile +, MIT EmTech, and Startup Weekend. He regularly publishes articles on sites such as ProXXIma and he took part in Livro Mobile - IAB Brasil. In Loco Media (www.inlocomedia.com) is the world’s first mobile advertising network powered by indoor location technology. It provides advertising in locations defined by the advertiser with an accuracy of from 1 to 2 meters. Its exclusive technology was named the most precise in the world in 2014 by Microsoft Research and is 30 times more effective than GPS.
How did you get into the industry?
It happened throughout a project created at the Technology Center (CIn) of the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco - UFPE, for a course entitled "Projetão", which resulted into a startup. Soon during the first two months, we were national finalists on the “Desafio Brasil 2011” - an entrepreneur contest - integrating the top 6 of the championship.
Few weeks later, we were also national finalists on the Prêmio Santander de Empreendedorismo 2011 – another entrepreneurship award. The result brought networking and visibility to us. We were invited by Intel to compete for a place in the E-Bootcamp, an acceleration event held by a partnership among the universities of Stanford and Princeton and we were one of 30 startups selected worldwide to attend the event in Silicon Valley.
Since then, we were selected as the owners of the global more accurate smartphones’ geolocation technology, by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), and by Microsoft.
Any emerging industry trends?
Yes, today the main trend of the indoor technology is the use of beacons and, for this reason, In Loco stands out once it is the only company owner of a technology that can achieve the same level of beacons precision, but without the need of installation and investment in equipment. In Loco has used this pioneering in its favor, and positioning the company very well nowadays.
I see this technological exclusivity as our great opportunity: offering to the market a solution that does not require investment in equipment, which makes us much more scalable with a much lower cost than the solution based on beacons.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
Our main challenge now is quickly positioning our unique technology in the international market.
Inspiration for In Loco Media, and your vision for it?
The inspiration came up while I was following the academic work developed by my father, who is a beacons computing area researcher. Although it was fascinating, the research was very academic.
The challenge was, therefore, applying the theory to the real practice. We have created a platform which enabled the beacon computing theory, which allows the technology to be connected with people all the time without much effort.
What's next for In Loco Media in the near future?
We intend starting operations in the United States in the second half of 2016, but we already have people in New York and Tel Aviv. In a year we want to launch offices in Europe, Asia, London and Singapore.
Additionally, we will launch new products such as DMP mobile, push notifications platform for retail apps and brands, and a self-service media platform focused on small and medium enterprises.
The 2016 year will be focused on the In Loco Media growth. In the first two months of this year we already have been in Silicon Valley. We also aim to achieve global leadership in the data market and geolocated ads by 2018.
Your key initiatives for the success of In Loco Media?
Heavy investments in technology development and attention to the constantly evolution of the market and all the innovations in our area.
Your most difficult moment at In Loco Media? (and what did you learn?)
Before receiving financial investment from investors, we spent over two years working with no return. None of the two partners had money to invest in the company. Basically, we lived with the money from our parents. It was difficult, thus, creating a company.
But we always hardly believed in the business. There was not a moment in which the partners or other team’s members thought about quitting. Especially after the company receives investment, and start having customers and then become profitable. All of it together improved a lot our operations.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
We developed a strong educational work with our clients. We showcased them how to use the product on the best way. It is necessary the customer has a very deep understanding of its audience, based on location data we collect. With this intelligence, it is possible identifying these audiences in order to impact them at the right time.
Sometimes, however we have a great differential in terms of technology, customers can not realize it and plan very basic campaigns. I think the ideal experience occurs exactly when the client can really understand the technology, its potential and take advantage of it. We care about being part of this whole process.
How do you motivate others?
Aiming to keep the team always motivated, one of the main points is having a clear vision about the place the company needs to achieve, and mainly, being very frank about what is happening.
We are very transparent here in the company, based on that, we could create a very large engagement with the members’ team, and thereafter, make them feeling really integrated into the business.
Furthermore, this confidence contributes to the employees to have more ideas and offer insights that, if they were not aware about what is really happening in the company, it would not be possible.
Career advice to those in your industry?
The main advice is to pay attention to the technology. Many companies participating in this advertising industry and applications end up growing very fast, but when they stop to observe the technology’s trends, they are quickly swallowed up by competitors who are more connected.
This market is very dynamic and it is not allowed blur about what is going on in the world and focus only on the core business. Searching for new trends is key to the survival in this market.