Focus, and outsource everything that isn’t in your core expertise.
Omer and his wife Tal Golan were artists with shows all over New York before founding their own company, Outernets, which combines their love of art and technology. Outernets is a New York City-based tech startup that transforms windows into interactive digital displays. This solution empowers retailers to utilize video, interactive catalogs, and dynamic, user-controlled experiences to best engage the public and convert foot traffic into sales. By integrating real-time analytics of consumer engagement, the platform delivers invaluable insight into the customer journey and redefines the concept of “The Store.” Outernets is already utilized by McDonald’s and Dylan’s Candy Bar.
Where did the idea for Outernets come from?
Outernets was created to transform every storefront to a portal, a digital touch point that merges traditional marketing with e-commerce. Outernets is the internet – just outside. Outernets was developed as an all-in-one solution to fill the needs of retailers, advertisers, landlords, and brokers. For retailers, Outernets creates unique, data-driven interactive experiences for consumers. Landlords and brokers have the opportunity to make money off of vacant storefronts and the means to lease/sell faster. Advertisers are given an interactive-out-of-home advertising network that has all of the metrics of online campaigns. Outernets fills these spaces with their unique, innovative technology that everyone benefits from.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I make my days productive by relentlessly following up on my to-do’s and constantly checking in with my colleagues about our progress. A little before 8 AM, after we put our daughter on her school bus, my co-founder (who’s also my wife) and I get to the office together. We start with catching up on our emails, and at 10 AM we do a quick stand-up meeting with everyone in the office and try to align everyone with whatever goals we have for that day. Usually it’s a short meeting, and after that, we all go to do our own things. In my case, it’s face-to-face meetings, interviews, and pitches that last until 9-10 PM. I then go home, answer a few more emails, catch up with my partner on our day, and discuss our plans for the following day. Eventually, I go to sleep at 1 or 2 AM.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We built a system that let users create, modify, and deploy personalized ads that change depending on the demographics information of passersby. For example, when I walk by Outernets on McDonald’s, I’ll see a juicy burger, while my wife will see a salad, and my five-year-old daughter Zoe will see a Happy Meal video. Our creative team brings all kinds of ideas to life–on the Outernets on Dylan’s Candy Bar in Union Square, passerby who walk by can see themselves made out of candy. Our holiday display even used augmented reality to turn passerby’s heads into penguins and gingerbread men. We’re working on a few other exciting new projects now that we’re looking forward to seeing come to life.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One trend in marketing that has been growing significantly these past couple of years is “experiential,” which for most creative agencies is still passive videos. Some, however, are going for true interactive experiences that people can influence. Interactivity gives consumers a sense of agency and control that I find very compelling, and there are already numerous examples of how experiences increase customer engagements, brand awareness, and revenue, for companies of all kinds and verticals. Outernets OnPlatform was built to enable agencies, brands, and everyone who uses it as their CMS of choice, to lease, buy, create, and scale truly interactive, data-driven experiences that differentiate their brands from others while offering value to consumers.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I get things done. I try not to postpone anything. If there’s something I need to do, I do it, no matter how uncomfortable it is at the moment. I try not push things beyond the horizon and forget about their existence. I also don’t wait for things to be perfect. Perfection is the enemy of getting things done.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be afraid of anything – and thing BIG. Really BIG.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Virtual Reality sucks. 🙂 Many of my friends and colleagues are spending a lot of time and resources on VR. I remember when VR was first commercialized in the early 1990’s, it was very innovative and fun. It still is fun, just not so innovative, as the hardware is still bulky, not very intuitive, and disconnect people from each other. So not much has changed. I think it’s not going to take off until the hardware becomes lighter and the experience could blend seamlessly with the surroundings. So it will be Mixed Reality or Extended Reality that will eventually revolutionize entire industries, not Virtual Reality.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Learn. I learn constantly. I read as much as I can in many different fields. I believe that innovation comes from connecting different disciplines together in new ways, and I try to keep up with everything that people are doing or researching today in my fields of interests.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Focus, and outsource everything that isn’t in your core expertise. Sales, for example. We are a group of artists and creative technologists, so our focus is creating great technology, and we leave the sales to companies we’ve partnered with for that purpose. We focus on what we are good at and outsource the rest, which helps us grow and maintain our high standards.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve made plenty of mistakes with bad hires. I still struggle with this area. I try to improve this process by allowing more team members to be involved in the decision-making process, and not making compromises. I also try not to hire people only for their skills or experience–now I give a lot of consideration to culture fit as well. I know now that it’s not something that just happens.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Having a winning idea for a business is never enough. It’s about the winning team. Think of an idea, run it by family and friends to see if others also find it interesting, and then carefully select your dream team to turn your idea into a reality.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I lost my wallet a few months ago and it was a disaster. All my cards, licenses, and even my green card were there! I finally bought a smart wallet that has a built-in tracker. I hope not to lose this one!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Google Docs, I use it every day. It really helps us to keep our documents and our schedules synced. Very very useful, the benefits are great, and it’s free.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend “Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way Paperback,” by Richard Branson. Fun, interesting, with lots of useful wisdom. It teaches you really that you should not be afraid of anything. Follow your instincts and listen to your gut.
What is your favorite quote?
“You only fail when you give up trying.”
- Always keep moving. It’s important to stay focused on the bigger picture and to get things done.
- Communication is key. A cohesive team works together and is open with each other.
- In order to have a successful business, you need more than just a good idea. You need implementation through a winning team
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Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.