An Interview with Martin Adams

Leadership, Interviews


An Interview with Martin Adams, Co-Founder and CEO at Codec

JUNE 27, 2017

"There are a mixture of people who work in startups who think in hugely different ways and have hugely different personalities and styles, across the technology, business & sales side - if you think you won't fit in, you're wrong."

How would you describe your role to someone outside the industry? 
Being the CEO of a startup means my job is extremely varied: raising money, setting the strategic vision, hiring talent, maintaining morale, finding advisors and mentors, building products, creating business plans, picking an office, setting sales strategy, bringing our product to market, selling our product, answering email- in other words, everything

Tell me about the company you work for and the work they do? 
At Codec we are building the world's first Empathy Engine. This is about understanding what content specific audiences care about, think about, and are activated by. So that a Content Creative or Strategist can access our platform and immediately see what Content Marketing will work with different audiences before they spend money.

Our SaaS platform empowers Creatives to turn the problem of 'content-clutter' into a breakthrough solution. Using machine-learning and predictive content analytics, it generates deep Emotional and Strategic intelligence about an audience from their interactions with 3rd party media, and translates this into real-time, interactive content-marketing recommendations driving 10-20X ROI

How did you get into the Technology industry? 
I have a deep background in social media and audience data, having helped to setup one of the world's first social media agencies more than 10 years ago. I also spent some time as an intellectual property lawyer, so I've regularly been exposed to innovative and exciting technologies, which is a genuine pleasure.

Do you think the perception of the technology industry is accurate? 
I've been in this industry for more than a decade, but I'm determined not to lose perspective on how outsiders see the industry! Technology, and startup world can maintain a bit of elitism, using metrics and language and a culture of 'war stories' that are in danger of cutting out candidates who aren't so experienced or versed. That would be a travesty.
As for running a company, I can assure you a startup is not all Ping-Pong and free lunches! There are plenty of long nights and early starts, but having a great team, all working towards one clearly defined goal, is an extremely satisfying thing to be a part of.

Do you have any tips for people starting a career in technology? 
"Wear sunscreen..."
But seriously, join a company who's mission you truly believe in. Work hard to unearth why that mission is important to you, before you join. The nuts and bolts of the technology will change over time, but your commitment to making that vision real has to remain.

What keeps you and people you work with happy and productive at work? 
Feeling like you're team and the dynamics there are more important than the company. And living that. You should be setting out to work with people that you want to build the rest of your career with: that whatever happens with your current endeavour, you'll be working together on the next.

If you could say one thing to 10-13 year olds to encourage them into the industry what would that be?
There are a mixture of people who work in startups who think in hugely different ways and have hugely different personalities and styles, across the technology, business & sales side - if you think you won't fit in, you're wrong.

What's the next big thing in tech? 
All of us at Codec are excited about the new media applications and formats that will come from Virtual Reality. It has the potential to take storytelling to another level. Apart from the obvious applications in entertainment, there are other really interesting use cases- manipulation of big data in visual and immersive way being one example. We're waiting for the next big consumer breakthrough since the iPhone, and this could be it.

The rise of Ad Blocking software has been front page of the news of the past few months- how do you feel this is shaping the digital marketing landscape?
In truth, Ad-Blocking is just an expression of what audiences have been saying for years- "Don't waste my time or interrupt me unless you have something of value to offer, and we, not you, define value." All the rise of Ad-Blocking has done is helped agencies and brands more quickly move budgets in the direction of Content. It makes sense; you are 475 times more likely to survive a plane crash than you are to click on a brand ad! That said, Content is expensive and you shouldn't do it unless you know what will work with your audience: that's why we built the Codec platform.

How do the new Facebook reactions change the way companies need to publish content on social media?
It's a tool in the hands of everyday audiences: a public feedback loop that should make Brands think twice before they pollute Facebook with irrelevant, brand-centric content. Before the worst that could happen was your content 'wouldn't win' on Facebook. Now that audiences can react with anger (and more) to overly commercial content, it means brands can really 'lose' in reputation too.

Why do you think some companies are receiving poor ROI on their content marketing efforts?
First, they're forgetting that it's Content Marketing, and that your content shouldn't just be good, it should be focused on achieving a really well defined business goal. Second, they're ignoring the realities of the competition: your piece of branded faces two and a half billion bits of competing content every day, from wedding photos, to your mates' selfies, to breaking news- it's too hard to compete with that unless you know more about the audience. The Codec platform helps a Content Creative decide what content marketing to make based on evidence and data of that audience's content demands, rather than gut and instinct. The result is content that cuts through to specific audiences and activates them.

What is the most important rule when hiring your first few employees? 
As a startup, you must throw out the old theory of hiring people based on the fact you could sit beside them on a plane for 8 hours. When hiring your first few employees, hire heavily on skillsets, hire people smarter than you, and hire the people most excited by the problem you are trying to solve.

Interview conducted in 2016 for our Women in Technology Survey, 2016 campaign.

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