How Did He Make $15 Million from Managing Ads in 2015?

Warren Jolly

In Episode #333, Nathan interviews Warren Jolly, the CEO of Ad Quadrant, a social marketing agency that made $4 million in revenue in its first year. Warren’s an expert in leveraging social media and mobile marketing. Listen in to hear why you need to plan obsessively before you launch a business, why focus is the key to success, and how Warren aspires to scale massively…without becoming a SaaS business.



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Famous 5:

  • Favorite Book? – Good to Great
  • What CEO do you follow? — Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Favourite online tool? — Slack
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— Yes
  • If you could let your 20 year old self know one thing, what would it be? — Focus on one business; be great at one thing at a time

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:27 – Nathan’s introduction
  • 01:49 – Welcoming Warren to the show
  • 01:56 – Ad Quadrant was founded in 2014
  • 02:05 – It’s a managed services agency
  • 02:35 – Ad Quadrant works in the social marketing niche, including social media and mobile advertising
  • 03:12 – They make money by charging a percentage of the ad spend that they manage – if they meet their acquisition targets then the ad spend may be increased
  • 04:00 – “First year revenue was $4 million”
  • 04:23 – Spent a lot of time pre-planning and finding clients before they launched the business
  • 05:14 – “It was a painstaking process…we failed a lot and spent a lot of time working out our niche”
  • 05:25 – Revenue in 2015 was $15 million
  • 05:46 – 33 employees, based in California and New York
  • 06:01 – Take around 20% of ad spend on average
  • 06:14 – Will take more than that if they arbitrage a campaign – and will take less from high-volume clients
  • 07:02 – Have 35 active clients
  • 07:17 – Most revenue comes from percentage fees from ad spend – and some comes from a different model where they take a fixed price-per-action from customers
  • 08:24 – The metrics that are important to Warren’s team are new opportunities, growth, and churn and attrition
  • 08:55 – “If you’re not carefully focused on churn, you’re just filling a leaky bucket with more water”
  • 09:05 – “The two things you can control are flawless quality and fanatical customer service – those are what reduce churn”
  • 10:30 – Ad Quadrant’s aspirations are to develop and incubate consumer products
  • 11:05 – “If we can find verticals that are ripe for disruption and a good fit for social, then we want to use our expertise to get into that space”
  • 12:08 – Warren believes in bootstrapping – he’s more interested in investing in the business than paying himself a large salary
  • 13:16 – “Reach an inflection point and pay yourself a ratio”
  • 13:45 – Don’t try to run 5 businesses at once – find the one that you really want to focus on. Passive investment is an option as well
  • 14:50 – Warren’s generated his own wealth from prior exits
  • 08:16 – Connect with Warren on Linkedin or Twitter
  • 17:44 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. Focus on one thing at a time.
  2. If you’re in a service industry, you’ve got to control churn. Have astonishingly good customer service – otherwise you’ll bleed clients instead of growing.
  3. Plan painstakingly and obsessively before you try to launch your business.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Freshbooks – The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for cheapest price possible.
  • Leadpages – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5 hour drive) to listen to audio books.