Corey Weiner – Founder of Jun Group

[quote style=”boxed”]Focus. I’m addicted to multitasking, but I’ve found that it simply doesn’t work very well, and it’s a character flaw I’ve had to work on. When I’ve focused exclusively on the task at hand, I’ve been much more productive and effective.[/quote]

Corey Weiner helped found Jun Group while he was in high school. The NYC-based company gets millions of people to see branded content through two products: video and traffic. He also founded and serves as the CEO of HyprMX, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jun Group, which launched in 2012. HyprMX brings brand ads to apps and games. Everything Jun Group does is backed by the Jun Group Promise: Placements are always 100% visible, 100% opt-in, and 100% brand safe or the entire price of the campaign is refunded.

Corey began his career as a consultant for Sony and for the Federal Government. At Jun Group he designed the systems behind Jun Group’s core video and traffic offerings. This Spring, Corey earned his MBA from the Wharton School, graduating with honors.

Where did the idea for Jun Group come from?

Jun Group was founded on a very simple principle: brands and publishers deserve to know exactly where their advertisements are running, and get tangible ROI from those advertisements. That principle colors just about everything we do, from our Jun Group Promise to all of our native products.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

There is no typical day for me at Jun Group or HyprMX. Product development, finance, accounting, business development, operations, client service, and pre-sales all roll up under me, which means that the only thing typical about my day is that they are atypical. A day can be dominated by something as straightforward and creative as a product brainstorming and ideation session to something as complicated and detailed as an annual financial audit.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The main way we bring ideas to life is by thinking about our customers first. If you think about your customers needs and wants, it becomes much easier to bring products to life. Extraneous features are stripped out, which improves your time-to-market. We focus on a minimum viable product strategy – which effectively means we want to roll out products as quickly as possible, and then iterate on those products as we receive market data.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The tremendous shift to mobile and tablet consumption has been a really exciting. For years, we’ve relied on desktop and laptop computers which are statically located, and that era has come to an end. We now have to tailor content and advertising in the moment, showing the right ad to the right user at the right time, in order to influence purchasing behavior. This means brands can literally be in the palm of user’s hands, which is very powerful.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Focus. I’m addicted to multitasking, but I’ve found that it simply doesn’t work very well, and it’s a character flaw I’ve had to work on. When I’ve focused exclusively on the task at hand, I’ve been much more productive and effective.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I don’t think I’ve ever had a job I’d consider a worst job. Fortunately, I’ve always been able to work on products I’ve been very passionate about. As my passions have changed, I’ve reoriented my role accordingly.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

The most profound mistakes we’ve made here is when we have tried to change the minds of our customers, and impose our idea of “value” upon them. We invested a lot of time and money into products that weren’t right for the market, and if I could start over I’d use the strategy that has powered our explosive growth of late – customers first.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Continue learning. I just completed my MBA at Wharton, and it was an incredible, educational experience, and I plan to build on that with additional continuous education in accounting, engineering, mathematics, and other fields. Challenge yourself to continuously improve, because you simply never know when those skills will come in handy.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

One strategy that may sound counter-intuitive is that I’ve learned to slow down. Many people around me have called me a ‘gunslinger’ in the past, because I want to run out and build new things quickly, fail quickly, and improve from there. This strategy is OK in theory, but in practice, if you want your technology to scale, you need to build it on the right foundation. This means spending days on database schema design, architectural design, and product-market fit analysis. It’s not the sexiest part of product ideation, but it really pays off.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I’ve had many failures as an entrepreneur. The one that immediately comes to mind involves designing a sales organization. Salespeople, and especially sales managers, have to be incentivized carefully. If you incentivize a sales manager on individual contributions, he or she tends to think individually, rather than as a group. If you incentivize a sales manager on gross revenue, he or she tends to think about top-line revenue, rather than profits. It took us a while to really get our incentive structures right – but the key is avoiding Kerr’s Folly (a classic academic article which I highly recommend all read) in building incentive structures.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

After buying an apartment in Manhattan, I learned just how difficult and convoluted the home-buying process is. The process begins with deciding what area you want to live in, finding a few options for your home (which requires reaching out to brokers to set up meetings, etc), spending dozens of weekends looking at homes until you find your “dream” home. Then you need to get pre-approved on your mortgage, fill out a bid with your financial information, credit information, etc. Then you need to bid on the home(s), negotiate a contract, get a mortgage commitment letter (which requires appraisals, inspections, bank statements, pay stubs, et al.).

When I was going through this process myself, I was constantly self-conscious that I’d miss something crucial along the way. If there was a free CMS tool that took you through this process step-by-step, even recommending brokers, mortgages, lawyers, appraisers and others, it would be a really big idea that could be really profitable.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I’m obsessed with television. I watch a ton of shows, and have a hard time dropping shows from my queue even when they go from being great to terrible (see: Dexter). Hannibal, Fargo, Arrow, Justified, and The Americans are my guilty pleasures at the moment.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Google Drive has changed my workflow forever. Instead of having to rely on offline documents in Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, I’ve started creating Google Drive documents exclusively. This has allowed me to be more productive by sharing and collaborating with my coworkers, and also allowed me to access these files from anywhere, including my phone.

Less dramatically, I really like Feedly and Venmo. Feedly helps me keep my reading about the industry and the world organized – and Venmo is a really great way to send beer money to friends.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

One of my professors at Wharton, Stuart Diamond, wrote a book called “Getting More.” It explains that negotiation is something that we do every day, from managing boundaries for our children, to negotiating the big partnership at work. If we’re all a little better at negotiating and articulating what we want, we’ll all be happier.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

It’s geeky, but I love baseball and sabermetrics. I think it’s fascinating that you can bake down what baseball players do, and evaluate the proficiency of a player, and value of a player, based on accumulating data points about everything they do as a player – baserunning, defense, hitting, stealing, etc. This sabermetric-driven analysis leads me to read a bunch of influential sportswriters, including Keith Law, Rob Neyer, essentially anything Bill James writes, and FanGraphs.


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