Interview With Victoria Duben
Describe your product or service:
“Viewst is bridging the gap between creative and media teams in the digital ad space. It enables designers and marketing managers to collaborate in real time, scale ads versioning, streamline approvals, and go live faster.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“We launched Viewst beta in November 2020, amidst the COVID storm. Our team is fully remote. We have realised that the hardest obstacle for designers and marketers is communication, especially when they have been forced to work remotely. We support and grow the culture of freedom and responsibility at Viewst. And it is very important to help our team and our users to feel confident in what they do, even being far from their teammates. Our mission is to help our users spend time on important things like creativity and performance and not on boring routine like copy/pasting and unlimited email threads.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“10 full time employees, engineers, designers, and three operations.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I became a founder (co-founder) accidently. I was invited to join a team and a project. And the biggest thing I loved about being a founder was the creative freedom. Even despite the failure of the project I have joined, I've started my own startup without any doubt.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“I was a co-founder of Profit Button LLC, the adtech startup. And I spent a lot of time talking with existing clients and prospects. During these long and numerous conversations, I realised that all of them have a mutual pain: ads production. It made me confident that there's a big market pain, and we should challenge it.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“You might be laughing, but choosing a company name is one of the hardest things. It should be memorable, not too long, and … reflect the core values or mission [of the company]. And after all, the domain name should be free! I was thinking about the company name while reading ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight and the part about [the] Nike swoosh. We were thinking about high-quality viewable ads and technology, about excellence. There were some other names on the list like VIEWX, VIEWEX, VIEWSTER, VIEWTON, VIEWART, VIEFECT, VIEWPER, VIEWMO, VIEWXY, VIEWT, VIEWTA, and a bunch of others.
We ended up with ViewST — [a] viewable super tool. And then it changed into Viewst. At the time, we were working on a floating ad unit that was 100% viewable on all the screens. That was probably the reason we were playing a lot with ‘view’ and ‘viewability.’"
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“I knew nothing about startups and the necessary steps. I've made many mistakes. One of the hardest [was] not being in close contact with the early investors. They are always happy to support, to share their experience, to brainstorm with you. I was afraid that I disappointed them and avoided any communication. Another one was avoiding numbers. Numbers always tell you the truth about your success and about your future potential. The numbers about your early days’ growth, about your early users and their time on the platform, etc. I was honest [with] myself. I learned the lessons and started all over again.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“Our early customers are startups, who quickly adopt innovations, who have just raised funds to invest into marketing, [and] who don't yet have a standardized process of setting up tasks and communication standards between creative and media teams. We help them to quickly and easily create ad versioning for different regions, keep brand consistency, instantly react to comments from team members and easily navigate through old projects and creatives. Though we also work with SMBs and global brands and agencies.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“So far, we are enjoying organic growth. Our key source of traffic is SEO, and we do direct sales.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“DAU, WA, MAU, retention rate, churn rate, and % of growth in each of the mentioned metrics.”
What's your favorite book on entrepreneurship?
“I would name a few. ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ by Ben Horowitz, ‘Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility’ by Patty McCord, ‘The Hockey Stick Principles’ by Bobby Martin.”
What is your favorite startup or business podcast?
“‘Startup Stories,’ ‘The Tim Ferriss Show,’ [and] ‘The Top.’”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“Everything is doable, and everything is possible if you are persistent.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“It took me two years to get to this point. I had therapy. Do you remember this episode of ‘American Dad’? ‘M-m-m more newspapers, m-m-m more money. M-m-m more money, m-m-m more speech therapy.’ Entrepreneurs are positive people who like jokes!”
How do you stay motivated?
“My big vision, my big dream, and of course my family and my team make me feel motivated every morning, no matter what.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Working out every day for at least 20 minutes. Go out for a walk every day for at least 40 minutes. Have one day off when I don't even open my laptop, don't read emails or articles.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“I'm truly proud of the current Viewst achievements.”
More on Viewst
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Victoria Duben of Viewst that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.