We had the good fortune of connecting with Yuri Kaplan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yuri, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I served 2 years in the military as a combat engineer where I was trained meticulously in working with explosives and in minefields. Every day presented a new challenge, but those two years taught me a lot about discipline, pushing yourself to your limits, and how to evaluate risk.
My time in the military also taught me how to distinguish between fear and taking on too much risk. Ultimately, taking risks will always have some sort of fear associated with it, which is normal. The problem is when that fear comes from a place where it doesn’t allow us to grow as individuals. That’s when it makes us hesitant and scared to adapt to change – even though it could be the best thing to happen to us.
It’s one thing if you can clearly quantify the risk involved but if it’s risky because it scares you to grow as a person, that’s normal and that’s the kind of risk that comes with starting a business. That’s what attracted me to the life of tech start-ups – I know that it will continuously push me to grow as a person – and that’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
About two years ago I was writing a blog about display ads on Google and social media. I learned that over 90% of them are ignored and about 50% of mobile ad clicks are accidental, which basically means that companies are wasting tens of billions of dollars on ineffective advertising.
I’ve always had the ambition to work for myself and build something that helps people benefit. I participated in business competitions and even started a small landscaping service in high school.
Everyone knows that word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful advertisement, so I started looking into influencer marketing as a potential solution to the pain I saw caused by traditional ads.
The problems with influencer marketing are that it’s not accessible to everyone and that it has lost its authenticity over the years because many influencers and creators have turned their social media accounts into a business rather than a channel of self-reflection and connection. So, I found a co-founder and we started developing an MVP that would tackle all these problems.
One day I was in a Firehouse Subs restaurant and I was awed by their décor. I took a few photos and shared them on my Instagram. As the engagement grew, I had my Eureka moment. True influence is not in the number of followers, but the close relationship you have with those followers – which contradicts the very nature of having a lot of followers.
This is when we realized that democratizing influencer marketing and leveling the playing field is the best way to give any business, and any regular consumer, the access to influencer marketing. Even better, you leverage “true influence” – the innate trust of friends and family.
After all, who would you rather trust, a Kardashian or your friend?
One of the greatest challenges with AdMass is that we are creating a new category of influencer marketing which involves a lot of research, learning as well as educating during a sales process. In order to effectively bring this to the market, we really had to squash what we think we knew and listen to experts in the field.
Another challenge is the misconception of influencer marketing. People often ask about the impact that an everyday customer of a business might have versus using an influencer. A common question is “but can’t you reach more people with influencers because they have more followers?”
In reality that is not the case. You reach more people using regular customers, and you reach them more authentically.
One of the problems with influencers is that they are bloated with fake followers. Even many celebrities have as much as 40% of their followers represented by fake accounts and bots. In 2019, there were 1.3 billion dollars wasted on fake followers, which accounted for about 13% of all influencer marketing at the time.
Additionally, when you factor in the engagement rates of regular social media users and influencers, you actually get a way more cost-effective campaign when you spread your budget across more users. By spreading your budget across more users, it also helps your brand go viral more quickly since you have more hashtags and mentions about your brand.
The issue is the automation of using everyday consumers as brand advocates. That is, it was an issue until we developed the technology behind AdMass which is now able to automate this process.
Our mission at AdMass is to change that and bring equality to the industry. I truly believe that democratizing the creator economy and giving the opportunity for all companies and people to tap into it is extremely important.
So many influencers charge insane amounts of money and many platforms are simply not affordable for an average company, nor do they care or look at the everyday user. Without AdMass there is currently no way for an everyday consumer to benefit the way influencers do, or to be able to earn free products or discounts in exchange for promoting companies and products they love.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m from Hamilton and some say it’s the waterfall capital of the world since it has over 100 waterfalls in a very small area. They may not be the biggest, but I think one of the biggest pleasure of living in my city is to hike in nature and see the beauty that it has to offer. There are trails filled with chipmunks and deer as if you were walking in a fairy tale and I would defiantly put that at the top of my list for anyone to see.
We also have a large Italian and Portuguese population, and with that come a lot of deserts. After hikes I would take them to Locke St. or Ottawa St. for a nice patio meal, and then take them downtown to one of my favorite bakeries.
There are also a number of museums and art galleries worth visiting, and there a number of incredible beaches within 20-30 minute drives from the city that are an absolute must-see.
Another great location would be the Royal Botanical Gardens which contain a great ensemble of butterflies and plants – a must-see for anyone visiting the city.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Quite a lot. The Forge accelerator by McMaster University. Lean Startup by Eric Reis. My mentors, family and friends.