ADOTAS Conversations: Matt Wise, CEO & President, Q Interactive

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We’ve been generously covering the topics of lead generation and permission-based marketing here at ADOTAS in recent weeks. Many great writers who double as senior executives by day have come forth with their methods and suggestions to turn leads into gold, and have also raised debate on the fundamentals of creating successful interactive ad sales teams.

So it only made sense for this latest installment of ADOTAS Conversations to pick the brain of a company that has parlayed its success as an online marketing agency to become a lead generation-focused entity.

In doing so, we spoke with Q Interactive CEO/President Matt Wise, who himself is a veteran entrepreneur and online marketing pro. Before joining Q in 2004, Wise most recently served as Senior Vice President of Account Services for Draft, a leading direct marketing and promotions agency in the United States. Wise had plenty to share on his company’s structure and advantages, as well as what’s lacking in the permission-based marketing field, and what Q is doing to change it.

Hi, Matt. So let’s start with your background and what lured you to Q Interactive and what your day to day is?

Prior to being at Q Interactive I was at Draft Worldwide, which is a direct marketing advertising agency. At the time, I think still currently, was the largest in the US, but prior to that I was at a number of other startups, a spin-off of IBM and a startup of official properties which eventually became Apartments.com. That’s really what gave me the foundation of wanting to come to Q Interactive.

I’ve been through four different startups of which, one way or another, successfully sold to other players. As a point of reference, they are all still in existence today. They all survived the bubble burst. But I took a couple years off of the Internet space, went into the agency space which gave me a, I call it, a reeducation and a heart for fundamental marketing—specifically direct marketing but also branding work. All of that brought me to a consensus that I prefer to be in the Internet space. I prefer to be on the operations side, but it’s not often in a career that you can take a couple of years off and get a “reeducation” shall we call it in a particular field.

So what initially attracted you to Q Interactive? What have you provided since your arrival?

When I wanted to reenter the space, I wanted to reenter in Chicago and in that list of companies in Chicago, Q Interactive at the time was called CoolSavings and they were a relatively one-dimensional company. But they had visions of rapidly expanding their business in a completely different dimension of an ad network, the lead generation.

So, that was about two years ago. We had launched our lead generation a couple of months before that. My first role coming here was to manage that from a business development side and work on our marketing industry communications. So what quickly became clear to me, was there was just tremendous potential in the way we were doing lead generation in a network perspective.

Our approach to it was substantially different than most of the other players, and there was a huge need in the marketplace to get permission from consumers to market to them. That’s essentially what we do and the way we do it is just a little different that other folks. But really that opportunity of adding up this portion of the business which I though had so much potential, was very attractive, and the folks here at Q Interactive are a great group of people, very sharp, very dedicated to the business. So it had the right culture, the right people, and the right business opportunity, which is 90% of what you’re looking for when you come to a company.

So I came here about two years ago, and really since then it has taken off. We were a public company back then that reported our earnings and I think in 2004, we can get these exact stats, we did about $38 million in revenue. Roughly breaking even, I think we did about a million or a million and a half.

In 2005, we went private at the end of the year, but we did $67 million in revenue and around $6 million in profit. So business truly just took off, and although we’re privately held now–our parent company took us private—,we’re seeing a similar growth trajectory in revenue that we saw from 2004- 2005, 2005-2006. As we look out at 2007, we’re seeing the same thing continuing. So, we’re definitely in a sector that’s growing well, and our approach to it has been very successful.

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