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Kiip the moment. An interview with Brian Wong, Co-founder and CEO of Kiip

Brian Wong, co-founder, and CEO of Kiip (pronounced “keep”), a reward platform and mobile app that makes use of moments of achievement and turns them into marketing opportunities by giving users relevant rewards.

The story begins with observation

The story begins with Brian taking a flight. When Brian observed passengers around him constantly on their mobile devices and playing games, he realized this was a great marketing opportunity. However, he also noticed that the moment of achievement in gaming had been taken over by banner ads, interrupting the flow of the games. Instead of feeling good about making it to the next level, game players had to endure the repetitive banner ads or even a 3-minute video ad.

Inspired by the book “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely, which talks about serendipitous rewards, Brian came up with the idea to reward people with surprisingly delightful moments instead of disturbing them with the traditional ads.

Brian says moments of achievement exist in any app category, like finishing a workout session with a fitness app or checking off your to-do list. He points out that moments are more appropriate for mobile devices than non-mobile devices since people spend more time on phones and tablets.

Kiip the moment. An interview with Brian Wong, Co-founder and CEO of Kiip

The two deadly mobile marketing mistakes

Looking at the traditional form of marketing, Brian spotted that there are two common mobile marketing mistakes:

Buying impressions: companies buy impressions in order to show their advertisement to consumers as frequent as possible, but that can also result in consumers getting bored or annoyed by the repetitive ads.

Focusing on time spent: A lot of advertisers make consumers spend time with them, forcing people to watch a long promotional video before they can continue their activity online. However, for the today’s generations, it doesn’t matter how much time they spend on the ads, it’s more about the impact the ad makes. That’s why Kiip came up with the idea of the ‘moment’, instead of interrupting people with an ad or a pop-up, it gives you a relevant reward which you can redeem later.

Young entrepreneur = innovation + understanding the millennial

Co-founding Kiip at the age of 19, Brian says his age was not a disadvantage. As a young entrepreneur, people saw him as someone innovative.  "People expected me to come up with an innovative idea and be able to connect with the millennial generation, who a lot of companies found difficult to understand.” Brian says.

“I have learned from my early entrepreneurial days!” Brian says. “It is important to let go and avoid being a control freak. It is crucial to give your team the freedom to do things their way and avoid implementing your version of perfect to their work. With that freedom comes a lot of new ideas. As soon as you start to let go, you see a lot more opportunities,”

Growing from a small team to a team with more than 100 members, Brian looked for generalists with a can-do attitude in the early stages and specialists later on. “In the early stage, you want someone that is comfortable to work with, you need to hire the Jack of all trades, the kind of people that can do great in multiple areas,” Brian explains. “But later on, you might hit a point where you need people who are specialized and who are the experts in a particular aspect.” Brian describes his team as a very laid back team with a flat hierarchy. The Kiip team trust each other tremendously and genuinely see each other as family.

Kiip the moment. An interview with Brian Wong, Co-founder and CEO of Kiip

The chicken and egg problem

Kiip was able to get big brands on board early on, but Brian says big brands like to see other big brands using the service before themselves, like the chicken and the egg dilemma. Vitamin Water was one of Kiip’s first venture investors, and they also became one of their first clients. “It’s very important to have someone believe in you early on, which allows you to prove your work,” he says.

Talking about raising funds, Brian says raising money is never easy but it is also important to stay true and be yourself. “ You want to be conscious of not building to an investor’s demand...You should know your product better than anyone else, better than the investor,” Brian explains.

The past and the future

If he was going to start Kiip all over again, Brian wouldn’t change anything drastically, but he would change small moves. “Basically, everything would happen faster, since when you start green, it takes time to learn on the go,” he explains .

For the future, Kiip is going to conquer other platforms like wearable and screen technologies. Kiip announced earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress that they have partnered up with Oral-B’s app, to reward users that are consistent with their healthy habits, Kiip will be integrated into Oral-B's app by the end of this year.

Brian Wong bio:

Brian skipped 4 K-12 grades and got his Bachelor of Commerce from University of British Columbia at the age of 18. He co-founded Kiip at 19, and he is one of the youngest people to ever receive venture capital funding, Kiip has raised $32 million to date. Brian also is the author of The Cheat Code, which will be released on September 6th. 


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