Zac Brandenberg Interview, CEO of Hydra Reveals His Success Secrets
Perfection is generally unrealistic and can be paralyzing
Today we have an interview with and amazing, high pedigree Young Entrepreneur – Zac Brandenberg
Zac (aged 32) is the Co-Founder & CEO of Hydra, the largest and fastest growing affiliate advertising network (110 million last year).
As I look over Zac’s replies, one point in particular stands out:
“It’s better to be profitable today, than perfect tomorrow”
In the past I have subscribed to the thought that ‘good enough is good enough’ but as I read Zac’s replies I appreciate that “It’s better to be profitable today, than perfect tomorrow” says what I am really trying to say, much better or to take it a step further as Zac also says in the interview: ‘Perfection is generally unrealistic and can be paralyzing”
Zac Brandenberg is already a seasoned Internet entrepreneur with hands-on experience developing and leading online-based ventures.
Some of his accomplishments include:
* Co-Founder & CEO of Hydra Networks
* Founder GreatUSAflags (launched the official “Iraqi Most Wanted” playing cards, grossing $10 million in just six weeks)
* Launched OpinionSurveys, an online consumer panel with more than 10 million participants for The Dohring Company, the nation’s largest provider of custom automotive research
* Consulted the interactive kids’ entertainment website Neopets, Inc. which sold to Viacom in 2006
* Investor and Board member of Teleparent Educational Systems, a provider of notification services to educational institutions
* Investor and a Board member for Meteor Games, LLC, an online, multi-player gaming studio
* Former investor in Dogswell, LLC, which subsequently received an investment from TSG
Enjoy the interview – As always, I look forward to your comments.
Zac Brandenberg Interview:
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you founded Hydra (hydranetwork.com):
I am currently 32, grew up in New Jersey, and have spent the last 14 years in Los Angeles where I went to college. Previous to founding Hydra in 2003, I ran an online research and advertising business, then started several ecommerce websites (selling patriotic products, holiday gifts, pet products, and more) while a partner at a boutique performance advertising business. I started Hydra to combine multiple Internet businesses under one roof to take advantage of the synergies between them. We did email marketing, database management, e-commerce, lead generation and ran a CPA (cost-per-action) ad network. Given our timing in the market, the ad network experienced such explosive growth that it overshadowed the other operations. So we dropped everything else and focused our efforts on that, although in the last year or so, we have been re-diversifying to provide greater reach and service capabilities to our clients.
2)Hydra generates millions of customers or customer leads for advertisers every month through campaigns distributed through banners, social media, email and search marketing. Could you elaborate on how you use social media?
Different marketers want to access different components of social media. We provide reach by advertising in social display and text-display hybrid spaces (think Facebook), as well as placing advertising in social media applications, such as casual games.Taking it one step further, we also run marketing campaigns that use fan sites/pages, twitter, blogging, and communitiesto build a custom social network for our Clients.These tend to be more interactive between the marketer and the consumer, and less of a unilateral manner of communicating with consumers.
3) Can you share some of the biggest lessons you have learned personally and as a business as Hydra has grown? If you were to start again, what might you do differently?
My experience has proven the need for speed, not just in entering new markets and pursuing strategies, but in cutting your losses. It’s important to execute quickly, especially in the Internet space. And don’t wait to achieve perfection before you make your move. Perfection is generally unrealistic and can be paralyzing.
4) What’s next for Hydra? Where do you see the business in say 5 years time?
I see performance-based CPA (cost-per-action) advertising becoming a mainstream strategy for major brands, not just to acquire sales and leads for direct response campaigns, but also to drive engagements for brand campaigns. The trend has already begun and we are evolving our operations to help lead and accelerate the process. Ongoing investments to build our creative and optimization capabilities, direct distribution, web operations and more will result in a Hydra that’s much closer to a full-service online agency than just a pure ad network.
5) Do you have any recommended strategies for getting customers who use your service once and come back and use your service again – other than of course good results?
First off, as the CEO of a results-based ad network, I wouldn’t downplay the importance of delivering “good results.” That’s how we make money for our clients and get paid. But beyond that, we strive to provide a positive customer experience that delivers highly responsive, personalized attention and demonstrates to our clients how important they are to us. We achieve it by hiring great people and instilling in them our mission of service and performance.
6) Do you have any suggestions for coping with set-backs, negative experiences?
It has been said before because it’s true. Every set-back is a learning experience. Reflect on what brought you to the situation, so you can fix the current problem and take measures to prevent it from occurring in the future.
7) How do you keep your business focus – Do you have any suggestions for entrepreneurs who are experiencing challenging times?
I’m not really big on affirmations or ethereal concepts; I am much more about setting targets and continuing to try until they are reached. Focus in business is like anything else – know what you want and go after it.
8: Do you have any favorite business related or web design related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?
We’re big fans at Hydra of “Good to Great” by Jim Collins; we have given copies to all our staff. Personally, my favorite recent read was “West of Eden” by Frank Rose. It’s a fascinating tale about Apple, which is an amazing company.
9) What is the best advice you have ever been given?
The 5P’s – Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
10) As someone who has achieved success at a relatively young age, what advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur starting their first business today?
It’s better to be profitable today, than perfect tomorrow.
11) What do you like best about the Internet?
12) What do you like least about the Internet?
In many ways, it has doomed privacy (going back to my unlimited information comment).
Thank you Zac for an amazing interview and insight into how you think about business. It is very inspiring.
Since 2003, Hydra has been delivering customers for advertisers including well-known household brands, online service providers, and hundreds of consumer product and service companies. A leading online advertising network where advertisers pay only for new customers, Hydra generates millions of customers or customer leads for advertisers every month through effective results-based campaigns distributed through banners, social media, email and search marketing. Learn more at www.hydranetwork.com .