If youve been around the Irish start up scene for any length of time, then youve heard about Dylan Collins. You might not have met him yet, though, because as his Crunchbase profile so fittingly puts it his location is unknown. That means, though hes officially based in London now, he might be there or in Dublin or in LA or San Francisco on any given day.
Known for founding Jolt Online Gaming and Demonware in Dublin, he now heads up SuperAwesome where hes CEO, and is a venture partner at Hoxton Ventures and board member of Brown Bag Films and Potato, the UK tech marketing agency. As if that wasnt enough he also often shows up in the Irish Independent, where hes recently authored a series of articles full of startup advice and the odd reference to Suge Knight. Busy guy, in other words. We spoke to Dylan over email about marketing to children, Dublin vs other cities, and all things SuperAwesome.
Hi Dylan! First things first: hows SuperAwesome going? Has the product changed a lot in the last year? So many acquisitions.
Oh, you know. Just the biggest kids ad platform in the world. No big deal.
SuperAwesome is the company making digital ads safe for kids. So, AwesomeAds (our ad platform built specifically for child safety and privacy) is now used by 170+ brands (LEGO, Hasbro, Warner Bros etc) to deliver fun, engaging ads to the youth audience around the world. Were headquartered in London, and now have offices in New York, Sydney and Bangkok. Our aggregate audience is almost 250M kids every month.
One TechCrunch article mentioned that SuperAwesome helps bring creators away from ‘spammy in-app purchases, which is great. What are the main alternatives?
Fun ads or sponsorships, by brands that kids actually enjoy. Because we just focus on the kids market, all we do is work with brands to create fun campaigns which kids like. The more they enjoy and engage, the more the content owner can generate revenue. Kid-safe advertising should be clearly advertising and clearly fun. We actually have a panel of kids which we ask to review new ad formats to see which ones they like or not.
This is an odd question, but in marketing to children, how do you discern what reaches what age group? Or is that more up to the company using SuperAwesome? One thing that really stood out to me in a recent study for Safer Internet Day was how parents will sign kids up to sites despite supposed age restrictions.
One of the very unusual things about SuperAwesome is we say ‘no’ to a lot of people, both content developers and brands. We review everything which passes through our platform for technical compliance and content appropriateness. With content developers, we get to understand the people behind them and how well they know their audience.
It’s very tough for parents-there’s so much noise out there and it’s hard for them to keep up with what’s appropriate for their kids (versus what *looks* appropriate). We’ve made it our mission so that at least they don’t need to worry about the ads that their children see.
As someone who is part of the Dublin community but working abroad a lot, how does Dublins tech community compare to those around the world? SF and London especially
Well, I try not to think too deeply about which community I belong to. Inevitably it upsets someone. From a pure company-building standpoint, you probably want to be in the best city for your company versus the best city for you. You can start anywhere though. Dublin remains one of the best cities in the world for the latter but from a scaling perspective, it’s probably either SF, NYC or London. However, there will always be exceptions which make me look like an idiot for saying that, companies like Teamwork, Currencyfair, Phorest, the Web Summit and Realex.
Are there things unique to Dublin tech that youve taken with you? Are there things we could learn here from elsewhere, that stand out?
It’s the personalities which make the scene. Things I’ve taken with me:
-the Tinderness of Paul Hayes: always hook people up with each other if you can
-the bluntness of Ray Nolan: if it’s shit, I’m going to tell you
-the niceness of Colm Lyon: I try not to be a dick
-the profile of Paddy Cosgrave: 50/50 chance it’ll be a conversation ice-breaker
-the charm of Mark Little: actually, I left this behind…
Then there are the things we could probably learn from elsewhere;
-hire the best people, not the best *Irish* people.
-keep finding people to tell you why your product is terrible and then iterating, before pitching
-get exposed to the best people in your industry. The challenge with a small population is that many founder teams just don’t get to see what ‘great’ looks like.
Hoxton Ventures have committed to investing 6M here on the back of an investment from Enterprise Ireland – what are your investment plans?
To invest it! We’re actively talking to early stage and seed companies across the country. This is what we look for. So if you’re a founder who we’re not talking to, please ping me/us to say hi.
And finally, your thoughts on the Suge Knight murder trial?
It’s made me a lot more polite to Uber drivers.