Identify great opportunities fast, build products fast, iterate until you find a fit, and then grow fast.
With a focus on the mobile domain space, John Papadakis, co-founder and CEO of Pollfish, is passionate about platforms and businesses that scale. In line with John’s expertise and passions, Pollfish is an online survey tool utilized by both small- and high-profile clients to transform intelligence with the most accurate, cost-effective, and rapid survey completion times.
Where did the idea for Pollfish come from?
I started my career as an Android developer. At that time, the only way to generate revenue was to integrate ads into your app — and paid apps for Android were not popular back then. In order to maximize revenue, my apps took on more ad formats and more intrusive ads. We wanted to provide an entirely new way for mobile publishers to generate revenue by providing the best user experience possible, and surveys were the perfect option. They’re nonintrusive and interactive, and they provide a rewarding user experience for both the app user and the publisher.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
Lately, my typical day starts at 7:30 a.m., and I try to respond to as many emails as I can before 8 a.m. (I’m trying to get to Inbox Zero as soon as possible). I’m in the office by 9 a.m., and until noon, I’m mostly communicating with the product team in Greece about the road map, product updates, planning, and hands-on work. Between noon and 5 p.m., I’m focused on next steps, acquisition, and strategy. My day usually ends at 11 p.m. — about two to three hours before I go to bed.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First, we listen. We crave feedback, advice, and suggestions. Everyone has their own opinions based on their own experiences and point of view. No one knows the company’s vision as well as the people within the company. That said, we see it as an obligation to listen to anyone who has something to say, digest it, collaborate with the team, and then filter and adjust it to our needs and vision. When we want to bring something to life, we usually move really fast. We have tried countless ideas. Most of them failed, but you only need some of them to succeed.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Access to information: data. It is truly amazing how easy it is to get information these days. A small enterprise can understand its customers and get a good grasp of the market for a fraction of the cost in real time. If you think about it, data — especially the democratization of data — is a game changer. Companies could always advertise their goods with a budget of $100, but no company could ever get market or customer info with that budget. Surveys are data, of course. I’m really glad that we are in an industry that is changing so dramatically and quickly.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
I wouldn’t classify it as a habit, but I can handle “content switches” really well.
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
I am a very fortunate person. I always love what I do and do what I love.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
This question has always troubled me. The only way to answer it is to ask myself, “Am I satisfied at this moment?” The answer to that question is yes, so I would forget the past for now.
What is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
RTFM. I’ll let you do a Google search of that initialism if you don’t know what it stands for. But really, whatever you’re trying to do, whether it’s product development, marketing, sales processes, or even music — you name it — someone has already written about it. The Internet is a big place with lots of free information. You just need to do one thing differently; you can copy everything else.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Move fast. We made a lot of mistakes — and I’m happy about it — but we are always moving fast. Identify great opportunities fast, build products fast, iterate until you find a fit, and then grow fast.
What is one failure you had, and how did you overcome it?
I’m not too focused on the failures; rather, I’m focused on the next steps. I guess the way to overcome them is to move on immediately.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
This one is really crazy, and most likely will fail miserably, but I think services like SEOmoz for other industries would be really cool. For example, Ubermoz — maximize your revenue from Uber just by being in the right place at the right time
What is the best $100 you recently spent, and why?
What? My new earbuds. Why? Because I need to convince myself that they were worth it.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
JIRA (https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira), Intercom (https://www.intercom.io/), Optimizely (https://www.optimizely.com/), and Google AdWords (https://www.google.com/adwords/). I love that they help us build products and grow the business.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
I don’t read books. (Insert “Unpopular Opinion Puffin” meme here.) I get all of my information from blogs, forums, communities, and articles.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Too many to list, and the list is very dynamic. The only ones who are always constant are our Pollfish team members (https://www.pollfish.com/company/team). Every single one of them excels within his or her domain.
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