MobileAppDaily had the privilege of interviewing the COO and Co-founder of Moburst, Lior Eldan. During this amazing conversation, Lior shared his motivation behind co-founding one of the fastest-growing agencies in the world. We also got to know about challenges that Moburst had to face to thrive as a competitive organization. If you are an entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur, you should definitely give this interview a read.
I am doing great; thank you so much for asking. I am happy to be here talking to you about Moburst!
The story is that Gilad and I were together in the Israeli army. We were both HR officers, funnily enough, and then kind of remained friends. And after I did a few years in the SEO space and in the online reputation management phase and I knew that mobile apps was where I wanted my next step to be. Gilad was deep in the weeds of mobile apps at the time so we connected and he had a small one-man consultancy agency, so we figured we'd make a company out of it and that's how Moburst was launched.
I remember the day that we launched the company and Gilad told me, “you'll see, this will be a big company”. I was like okay, let's see what happens. Our goal from early on was that we could be the number one mobile agency in the world. So we were very ambitious from day one in terms of where we wanted to get.
The daily routine obviously changed since COVID hit and we moved to remote work. At the beginning like everyone else we turned fully remote and realized the benefits of it, so once the initial craziness calmed down, our team came into the office once a week, but then we grew and we moved that to the department level and we also adapted the way we needed our business to run, with a focus on remote first.
I think we've found a nice balance with the kind of remote hybrid model with meeting people in the office on the one hand and also having online syncs so you won't feel like you're alone on both the company level and department level. So today I feel we're kind of in a good spot. We're making the most out of remote work and balancing the flexibility and the productivity but still having that working together, company camaraderie feeling.
I think it's tough to strike a balance, especially since every time we make changes, there's been a new COVID wave. We have not had any events for some time and don't want to see the team and people grow farther apart, especially as our company has more than doubled in size and many people haven’t met each other. But I feel that now we are doing some smaller events and I think once you do that there's kind of a pull and people are more inclined to come and see each other and come to the office because they kind of remember that camaraderie. So I think it's striking the balance between the productivity and flexibility of remote work and the bonding of working together in the company.
I think the remote setting also lends itself well to the flexibility we need in order to support a global team and global clients across multiple timezones.
So by far, the most challenging situation was in 2017, which was a very rough year for us at Moburst. We were running as a venture-backed startup, and the mobile industry had shifted with the explosion of mobile fraud, which caused some structural shifts in the market . That forced us into some strategic shifts and we had to lay off a big chunk of the team in a few consecutive layoffs, so that was a very painful experience. The people who we brought on board, we really liked and they were good professionally, so to have to let them go, to experience that disappointment that you let them down really affected the atmosphere.
So it was a very tough period with all of the uncertainty of will we get through or will we need to close? So that was a tough experience. But I think based on that, we kind of built again, almost from the ground up, I think at the end, we were around 10 people and started rebuilding from there, where everyone was very hands-on. So it was an important lesson for us in how we run the business. From then and forward we always made sure we're profitable and we measure every project to make sure it's possible to do an amazing job while being profitable at the same time.
So it was a very painful, but very important experience in terms of how we run the company. We still do have ambitious goals, and we see the opportunity in the market for growth, which is why we're continuing to push forward and grow rapidly, but now it is a very different approach in terms of how we run the day-to-day and the type of clients we work with (we’re fortunate to be selective nowadays with whom we work with).
In terms of services, I think expanding to digital is a kind of natural next step for us. While we will always be mobile-first, digital is very important and complements our current offerings. I think just expanding into more services such as Influencers and UGC is essential for us. And these services are not only for app-related products but for digital/web as well.
Website production is obviously a huge market and I think all the other different services you probably know we offer can also be built out on the digital side. Web CRO is something we really believe in. We want to build that out this year as well. So we have all these kinds of initiatives that are starting to get off the ground, and I think each one of them presents a unique growth opportunity.
In terms of location, we are hiring more in the UK and are considering opening an office there. We are looking at some other markets outside of the US and spreading our marketing focus not just on the US, although I think there's obviously much more we can do there.
I think that's what I personally love about this business, that you need to be at the edge because everything is so dynamic and changing and we're very connected to what's going on. Both Gilad and I are always learning on recent trends and talking with other entrepreneurs and generally striving to stay on top of what's going on in the industry. So that's what keeps us on our toes with respect to new technologies, like the Metaverse. Should we start doing stuff around like Oculus or try to market Oculus apps?
That's where I kind of feel that every now and then we have some weird projects or tasks that are thrown to us because of our past experience where we went through some of these paths which ended up not being very successful, we were kind of open-minded to see what works but not yet ready to go all in.
I think that's something that we need to see that it's a bit more grounded. It's pretty clear for us right now that once we grow into a full-fledged digital agency, there’s so much to do there. And perhaps the next jump would be into the metaverse. But probably right now it's too early. But if clients or potential clients start asking, we will definitely explore the opportunities.
I think that it's good and bad news: The good news is that entrepreneurship is the best MBA. I have a bachelor's degree, but I did not do an MBA, and I think Moburst is my MBA. And so in terms of what you learn, I think it's an amazing experience. On the other hand, do not underestimate the toll it takes in terms of your time and in terms of your personal life, and family. In retrospect, I think being an entrepreneur suits me now but I did not know how big of stress and toll that would be when I signed up for it.
So I think everyone needs to know that it’s a roller coaster, however, persistence usually pays off. And just be ready for it… I think that there are some entrepreneurs enter entrepreneurship thinking they can be very balanced. And I think that at least in the beginning that it’s not an easy task. So that’s my two cents.
I love learning new things and I love technology. I love dealing with data, BI and marketing and I feel that Moburst is an intercept of all of that. So that and working with some of the biggest and best clients is what keeps me motivated. It's challenging because our clients want the best and they have demands. That's what I like dealing with; challenges that we did not solve before and are now solving for a client and then kind of seeing how we can replicate that model or idea for the next client and scale that. So that's what keeps me interested and motivated.
I definitely try and read books and professional newsletter, and I really like podcasts. Personally, I like having some degree of sports in my routine, so I run and do Pilates, which is a big anchor for me. And what I love about running is that I can do both, run and listen to podcasts.
The exposure and honest reviews and feedback for category leaders like us, and helping share the Moburst story as it evolves is a big part of what got us here and will help take us to the next level!
Thank you once again for joining us today, Lior. We wish you and Moburst the best for future endeavors!
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