Shaper: Dominic Joseph

Show aired on 5th September 2015

Transcript

Elliot Moss
1960 What? from Gregory Porter. How are you? It’s me, Elliot Moss, here on Jazz Shapers on Jazz FM. Jazz Shapers is the place where you will hear music, brilliant music from the shapers of jazz, blues and soul collide with the world of business and interact with it in ways you did not think was possible, I promise you. I will be interviewing a person who has shaped the world of business, someone who is actively now doing fantastic things, has built a business and is going to continue to do so. My Business Shaper today is called Dominic Joseph. He is the co-founder of Captify; they are a search intelligence business doing rather well, founded four years ago. You will find out what search intelligence means I promise you. In addition to hearing from Dominic, you will be hearing from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya, some words of advice for your business and on top of all of that, of course some brilliant music from the shapers of jazz, blues and soul including Nina Simone, blues great Albert King and this from Mr Buddy Rich.

That was Mr Buddy Rich with The Beat Goes On and Dominic Joseph is my Business Shaper as I said earlier, he is the co-founder of Captify. They are a search intelligence business, I promise we will reveal what that means very shortly but before we do, I just want to say Dominic, you were a drummer, a professional drummer, played with lots of big acts, you played at Glastonbury. Do you still play?

Dominic Joseph
Absolutely yeah, I think you never stop playing if you, if you’ve learnt how to play a musical instrument so I have played my whole life, I have been very lucky to grow up on a drum kit and signed a record deal when I was nineteen years old to Polydor Universal and did lots of touring, lots of studio time, worked with lots of fantastic musicians who had played on twenty five/ thirty years of top singles and learnt a lot about that. I learnt a lot about life and a lot about working with people, working as a team and developing your own skills as well from playing an instrument.

Elliott Moss
Well that thing, I just want to touch on before we go into Captify. Your own skills. As any musician, you have to practice and practice and practice. Michael Janisch who was my Business Shaper a couple of years ago now from Whirlwind Recordings and he talked all about this shedding notion of Charlie Parker, you go into the shed, you don’t come out. What’s the bit when you really made the move from being pretty good to pretty fantastic actually.

Dominic Joseph
Well I think I was… I don’t think I was ever that good until it, you know, I don’t think I ever kind of really was close to you know, mastering an instrument. I think, I think what I learnt from doing it, it is an ongoing thing that lasts forever. I think the moment where things started moving forward and I felt like I was finally breaking down some of the boundaries that were there was when I was doing it full-time. I think I managed to get four or five hours a day you know, in a sound proof studio when I was signed to the record label. No one was listening and you were able to really open up to your own, your own holes in your ability and the things that you have never managed to work on because you are too proud to sort of show off your faults before and I think that is one of the key things with sport and music that I think is very similar and the fact that you… especially with a mass muscle movement like drumming, you need to train and train and train and train on the things that you can’t do until you can actually start doing it and then it is amazing how you suddenly start, once you have opened up to those problems and those holes, you start to fill those holes and you start to really move forward and I think we have certainly taken that through to how we run a business I think.

Elliot Moss
So tell me what Captify is in a nutshell and then we are going to come back and hear lots more. But just so people understand what search intelligence really means.

Dominic Joseph
Absolutely. So we are a technology business. We specialise in search intelligence which essentially we, we take user behaviours and in particular, search behaviours to actually better inform advertising on line. So we work with major brands all over the world, they serve more relevant ads to users, based on search behaviours because search is the best indicator of intent, it shows what people are actually looking to buy, purchase, what they are interested in etc., and then we also turn that into analytics packages as well for these major brands to essentially be able to understand their audience a little bit better.

Elliot Moss
And your brand just to show off for a minute because you probably won’t – obviously lots of agencies that buy your services across the UK, probably I think it is around over eighty in the UK, over a hundred in Europe and then you’ve got clients like Allianz, Hilton, Peugeot, Radisson, Et El, Sony, Volvo. I mean these are the biggest in the world and you are going to find out how Dominic and his co-founder have built this business from scratch just four years ago when they set it up. Time for some music though now, it is Sea Lion Woman from Nina Simone.

Sea Lion Woman from Nina Simone. Dominic Joseph is my Business Shaper, he is the co-founder of Captify. They help advertisers through search identify where they should be placing their ads. Is that a fair summary of part of your business?

Dominic Joseph
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
And the other part you said is this whole package of analysis of what, of how people use, where they therefore might be able to place their ads going forward and other sorts of analytics which might help big companies?

Dominic Joseph
Yeah absolutely. I think you know, with the access to search you understand what people are interested in, what they are searching for, what their intent is but you also understand what other things they are interested in as well and I think that really helps brands to truly understand their audience who are perhaps looking for a holiday somewhere or researching something. You know that also, you know the background either side of that to actually better inform the brand as to what their audience is all about.

Elliot Moss
Now look you have been a musician, we said that. You set up this business four years ago, what brought you to the point where you said ‘I am going to run my own business and its going to be in the digital space’. How did that happen Dominic?

Dominic Joseph
Well I think, I think from a music career where I felt very frustrated by, by essentially not being in control of your own destiny. I think the biggest problem with being a drummer is that you are still at the mercy of everyone else around you.

Elliot Moss
I thought you were going to say ‘ you are still at the back’.

Dominic Joseph
Yeah you are at the back.

Elliot Moss
Which is annoying.

Dominic Joseph
You are behind the cymbals.

Elliot Moss
The drummers are always getting annoyed about that.

Dominic Joseph
Yeah I mean I definitely have never been one to want to be at the front. It was more about you know, well you still don’t know whether someone is going to like, how it looks, how it sounds, as a group etc., and you know really the power lies within the singer usually and the songwriters. And that wasn’t my area so I think coming out of that experience I kind of had a natural desire to get into something where I knew if I put the amount of work in again then I knew what the result would be because essentially you are the one that is in control and if it didn’t work I was kind of fine with that because at least then it was my fault.

Elliot Moss
And am I right in saying, I read and this could be wrong, you dropped out of University to basically focus on this business. Is that right?

Dominic Joseph
No, no I never went to University.

Elliot Moss
Okay.

Dominic Joseph
No so, I went straight into music and then following that, after that I decided I needed to change my course and simply applied to an ad on the Internet to go and sell advertising on line and it was a pretty major change. I think I had played V Festival two weeks before that and…

Elliot Moss
How did you cope with that difference?

Dominic Joseph
It was pretty tough. I think, I think just kind of accepting that music wasn’t going to work out for me and I think that was quite a hard decision to make and to, you know, I think the problem with music a lot of the time is when you do it, is that everyone around you talks to you about it. Everyone thinks they know about music, everyone is involved in music because it is such a part of everyone’s lives and it is such a… it is something everyone can relate to and…

Elliot Moss
That was a very brave decision. Would you describe yourself as a brave person or was it more that you were a realist and you just kind of knew that however talented you were, for your own satisfaction you couldn’t carry on not being the very best of the best because you still were a very, you know, a very well respected and a very busy, you know, jobbing, you know, career drummer but obviously that wasn’t enough for you.

Dominic Joseph
I think I realised that I didn’t want to make money from music.

Elliot Moss
Okay.

Dominic Smith
I never played the drums to make money. I never played it to, to try and have a career. I just did it because I loved it and I think when it turned into a job and you know, we had one year where we were playing you know, in hundreds of shows in a year and you are playing the same songs over and over again and I found that I had lost the spark that I used to have. I used to really, you know, always imagine this thing and then when you do it for a living it is a very different ball game. So you know, and like I said, it comes with a lot of attention around it and you know, it kind of I think in a way that stops you from being as good as you can be and I think I really enjoyed getting into a new career, getting my head down, you know and kind of no-one knowing what you are doing. I mean still people don’t know – my mum still says, you know, ‘what do you actually do?’ and I like that because I can just, you know, you can just focus on it and you can just work with the people that do know what you are doing and you know, can help you and stay under the radar a little bit and you know, you can focus on succeeding. It is the same, it is exactly, for me it is exactly the same process. It is all about being as good as you can be. It’s about working really well with people and taking huge inspiration from working with people and yeah it’s an incredible journey that is very very similar in many ways but you know, it might not be you know, advertising or technology, might not have been a thing when I was twelve years old, I thought I would end up doing but at the same time it is, it is hugely fulfilling in a very different way.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my Business Shaper and find out how one of the UK’s fastest growing start-ups is growing so quickly. But before that some words of advice for your business idea from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya.

This is Jazz Shapers, every Saturday I talk to someone who is shaping the world of business. If you’ve missed any of the previous programmes, iTunes is your destination, put in the words ‘Jazz’ and ‘Shapers’, lots will pop up for you. BA is another place, British Airways or CityAm.com if you fancy. Dominic Joseph is my Business Shapers today, previously a professional musician, now doing rather well in the world of business. Awards for being Young Entrepreneurs of the Year of Flow 2013. Captify was named the UK’s Number One Start-up by Startups.co.uk in 2014, it was listed amongst the top fifty fast growth companies in the UK by Santander Breakthrough 50, I won’t go on but I could. An amazing set of accolades for this multi-million pound business. Dominic, you have been going four years now, you have obviously got a very strong relationship with your co-founder. What is it that has enabled you to do so well? You said earlier, I didn’t see myself when I was 12 going into the, you know, the digital space as it were. That wasn’t your dream but is it your dream now? Is it what fuels you? What wakes you up and go ‘yes’ or is it something else that is beneath that that drives you?

Dominic Joseph
I think we touched on it a minute ago, I think it is simply about understanding what, what opportunities you have around and then, and then succeeding at those. Going, you know, if you are going to something you have to be 110% committed, you go for it and you make sure that you get the result you need. And of course there is just a million curve balls that come your way along the way. I think having a great co-founder, having a great business partner that I work with is absolutely key. I think there are so many moments where if you were by yourself, you would talk yourself out of doing something and I am very lucky to have a fantastic guy that I work with, he is a very, very ballsy entrepreneur. He really goes for everything and…

Elliot Moss
This is Adam?

Dominic Joseph
Yes this is Adam, Adam Ludwin and between the two of us we kind of have this relationship where we meet, where we meet in the middle. It is usually the right decision and we kind of have a… we understand the areas that each of us will push into and we know each other’s strengths, we have a very clear division between our roles in the business for instance.

Elliot Moss
In a nutshell what is that? What role do you play, what role does he play?

Dominic Joseph
So I am more on the commercial and product side and Adam is much more of the, the finance, legal infrastructural of the side of the business and yeah we absolutely need each other. It is just a combination that works well and yeah and so far so good.

Elliot Moss
And just before we go to Albert King. Partnership better for you than being on your own or you can’t even imagine what it would have been on your own?

Dominic Joseph
I think, I think I am so pleased I went into a partnership. I think, I think having a partner pushes you into areas you wouldn’t normally go into. I think it gives you a reason to go for something if you have someone else to say ‘it’s okay, let’s go for it’ and also have someone to hold you back if you are perhaps you know, going off on a tangent sometimes and I think a lot of time when you are building your business you go so far into the detail it is very difficult to detach and we have a nice situation where each of us, we don’t get into the detail of each other’s roles so when we are able to you know, contribute to each other’s roles, you are slightly further detached from the detail of it and from the, you know, the real crux of what is going on and in many ways you have to approach it like that you know, I can liken this back to playing music you know, one of the best music producers we worked with used to come into the room, you know once every day, you know and just say ‘oh why are we doing that, that’s…’ you know, and you get musicians and entrepreneurs have gone so far down a route that they have forgotten you know, what the actual overarching topic is that you should be focussing what the key priorities are. So I think that we both try and approach our work with that and you know, a partnership really helps that to happen.

Elliot Moss
More coming up from Dominic, my Business Shaper. Time for Mr Albert King and this is Kansas City.

Kansas City from Albert King. Dominic, we have been talking about partnership, we have been talking about holding each other back and pushing each other forward and all that. You had to grow your team very fast, beneath you. I mean lots of people in a short space of time. What kind of pressures has that put on you both and how have you managed them?

Dominic Joseph
I would say its huge pressures yeah. It’s… but at the same time it’s the best thing about the whole thing you know, it’s the best part of running a business is the people you work with. You have a lot of responsibility on your head, you have got people’s lives, you have huge costs that come with having a large staff base but the positives just outweigh and I think when you have people around you that are better than you at your job, you kind of get addicted to trying to find more of those kind of guys.

Elliot Moss
Do you? So you are totally confident in the fact that what you do is what you do but if they are better at X, Y, Z, not a problem?

Dominic Joseph
Everyone in our business is better than us at all these things, that’s why they are there so I think the first couple of years when you are building a business you are trying to do like fifty different roles at the same time and that is actually a very demanding process to go through when you start a business because you know that you are only able to do each one you know, at 20% of what could be done if someone is really specialised in this and really knew what they were doing.

Elliot Moss
So actually it is a pleasure to watch that person to come in to do project A, they are at 100%, you are at 20% and they are doing it brilliantly.

Dominic Joseph
Absolutely and I am very proud to say that at Captify we have just an incredible, incredible amount of talent in our business and us as founders take huge compliment from that, that’s you know, the better they are, the better that we feel about how well the business is going and we have also made sure that we have always brought in people that embrace change, you know, that the youngest guy in the company you can have just as good a guy a better idea than someone who has been doing it for thirty years. What is important is to create, is to create depth within the business so that you have, you have you know, young, passion and you know, no previous experiences weighing down decisions etc., combined with older guys and you know, that they can learn from and there is a good learning process and a good structure to how those younger, that younger talent develops.

Elliot Moss
Now you obviously respect this group of people immensely I can tell. In a nutshell, what do they say about you as one of the bosses and the founders?

Dominic Joseph
Err…

Elliot Moss
He smiles wistfully.

Dominic Joseph
I think you know, hopefully they feel like they have learnt a lot. I don’t think anyone in our company can say they haven’t learnt from being in our business and I think we are all very lucky to have that and you know, I am hoping that they feel that they have got support and they’ve got you know, kind of I think, young inspiration I think is quite good. You know, I think if they can feel that when they are my age they understand how business is made from nothing. I think that would be great and I think you know, Adam and I both feel like one of the best things we would love is if you know, the members of staff go on to do great things in whatever industry it might be, if they are able to buy houses, you know, that for us is just hugely fulfilling.

Elliot Moss
Fantastic. We will have our final chat with Dominic plus play a track from Madeleine Peyroux. That is after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.

The lovely Madeleine Peyroux with Don’t Wait Too Long. Dominic Joseph has been my Business Shaper today and he will be for just a few more precious minutes. You got quite grown up Dominic, you are young man, you’ve been running this business since you were in your late twenties, you’ve just raised a bunch of money. These are very grown up things to be doing at you know, a pretty young age. How have you managed it in your… from an emotional perspective? Do you have people that you talk to outside of the business, other people inside apart from Adam that you can lean on? Because these are big things, not just technically and not just commercially but actually to kind of cope with. Your own success must be kind of hard to cope with?

Dominic Joseph
I don’t think it is the success that is hard to cope with because I don’t think we ever think of it like that or ever see that. I think we you know, a lot of what we talk about is the stresses and the pressures and you know, the things that are hard to cope with. I think it is made a lot easier by, by having a supportive wife. I have a fantastic wife who knows nothing about technology or advertising but knows a lot about emotions and people and without her a lot of what we have done would have been very difficult for me personally. But also friends and family of course but we have also surrounded ourselves with guys that have done it before as well so we built a fantastic advisory board at the business. We have guys that have built businesses from nothing, we have senior guys from within the industry that have been running the biggest companies in our industry and I think, I think in many ways actually because we were twenty eight and twenty seven at the time, we kind of needed to compensate for our lack of experience by going to bring them in and I think…

Elliot Moss
How did you get them because that’s a very smart move to make and often people, the most successful people I have interviewed have said it’s all about your mentors, especially as a young entrepreneur.

Dominic Joseph
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
How did you have the balls to go and approach these big names?

Dominic Joseph
Well I mean we just, we just approached them and we were just… we found out pretty quickly that people were up for it you know, and I think I would definitely advise anyone else who is starting a business, if you have got a fantastic product, if you have got an idea that is a really good credible idea, then you can actually attract pretty heavyweight people who are up for getting into something earlier stage. A lot of senior people in any industry are often frustrated by their lack of being able to really make a difference at the business you know and the only way they are ever going to really get that is by going to the start of another business and every business starts at some point. So you can really get, you know, it is possible to get people in. You just have to have a chat with them.

Elliot Moss
Well that sounds easy. I am sure it wasn’t quite as easy but you make it sound very easy. And just looking towards the future. Do you have aspirations to sell this business? Do you not think about that? Is it about lifestyle business? What is it, what is it for you that is going to keep you going? Is it just simply to do a better job and create better products and watch the team around you grow or is it a bit more than that?

Dominic Joseph
I think we have had to just purely focus on adding value into our industry. I mean we have built a product that works. We have spent a lot of time and energy building technology that is absolutely brilliant and you know, that gives us a huge, a hugely powerful position with how we grow this business. It has… when you grow a business it has to… you have to have a spine to your product and make that your absolute bread and butter and then all the commercial stuff works around it. And we have done well to do that and I think we just focussed on making sure that we continue to add value globally to brands all round the world and at the moment we have only really focussed on Europe so far so our next challenge is to take this, to take this all round the world and you know, and work with more and more brands and evolve what we do. One thing that has been consistent in our company is that we are constantly changing even though there is an underlying spine to what we do so yeah, we are not thinking about exit, we are not thinking about anything too far down the line, who we might work with down the line etc., we are just focussed on being as successful as we can.

Elliot Moss
What a good story and a nice straight forward attitude as well. Listen thank you so much for joining me. Just before I let you go, what have you chosen for us to listen to and why have you chosen it?

Dominic Joseph
I have chosen one of my favourite songs of all time, it’s, well probably my favourite song of all time actually. I have listened to it probably ten thousand times and know every single note off by heart and grew up with this as a child with my mum and dad playing this in the car and I think it is just, it’s a painting, it’s an absolute story of a song and the song is Riders On The Storm by The Doors.

Elliot Moss
And here it is.

Riders On The Storm from The Doors of course, the song choice of my Business Shaper, Dominic Joseph. Brave man, someone who moved from the world of music to the world of business. Clarity that partnership was a key thing for him and his partner as they have created a fantastically successful business and the desire to be inspiring to those around him. What a wonderful mix of things for him. Thank you very much for joining me, hope you join me again same time, same place. That is next Saturday for another edition of Jazz Shapers. In the meantime stay with us here on Jazz FM, coming up next it’s Nigel Williams.

GB Young entrepreneur of the year 2013, Dominic is the CEO and co-founder of Captify, an advertising technology business that specializes in Search Intelligence. Dominic co-founded Captify with Adam Ludwin in 2011, sharing a join vision of creating a digital advertising technology that engages with consumers through Desktop, Mobile and Video based on their intent shown through search.  Captify are Europe’s leading Search Retargeting business hundreds of global clients such as American Express, Sony, Warner Brothers, Sky and Microsoft amongst many others.  Captify have experienced substantial growth in the four years since conception at over 100% per year and as a result the business has expanded from 2 people to 75 globally.  Dominic & Adam have successfully raised 13 Million Euros in Series A and Series B funding from European investors Smedvig Capital and Panoramic Growth Equity.  Captify have offices in London, Hamburg, Paris and Kiev.

Previous to building his technology business, Dominic used to be a professional drummer, featuring on various chart hits for various signed artists, also having signed a record deal with Polydor, Universal Records, toured the world for 3 years supporting the likes of The Bravery, AHA, Blondie, FatboySlim and The Chemical Brothers, playing Glastonbury twice, V Festival, Rockness and many arenas around UK & Europe.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

I signed a record deal when I was nineteen years old to Polydor Universal and did lots of touring, lots of studio time, worked with lots of fantastic musicians

I learnt a lot about life and a lot about working with people, working as a team and developing your own skills

I never played the drums to make money.

If you are going to do something, you have to be 110% committed, you go for it and you make sure that you get the result you need.

I think having a great co-founder, having a great business partner to work with, is absolutely key.

I think having a partner pushes you into areas you wouldn’t normally go into.

I think when you have people around you that are better than you at your job, you kind of get addicted to trying to find more of those kind of guys.

What is important is to create depth within the business so that you have.

If you have got a fantastic product, if you have got an idea that is a really good credible idea, then you can actually attract pretty heavyweight people.

You have to have a spine to your product and make that your absolute bread and butter.

We are just focused on being as successful as we can.