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The most obvious expansion for many British technology companies is into the vast United States market.

As an English-speaking technology-leading country which shares many cultural ties with the home nations, it seems a no-brainer. “If you can win in the US, you can win anywhere,” Stephen Upstone, CEO of mobile advertising platform LoopMe, tells TechBlast. “It was a really important proof point for us. 

“It’s also the biggest market and has the greatest technology innovation. I didn’t want to be founding something here and getting acquired by someone who started later than us and just had a better US execution.”

Upstone met his co-founder and CTO Marco van de Bergh at Ad Infuse, subsequently acquired into Velti which peaked at $1 billion of market cap following IPO. They even rang the bell on the opening of the New York Stock Exchange.

Van de Bergh spent several years developing global products at Silicon Valley companies before they teamed up to launch LoopMe in 2012.

If you don’t put sufficient resources behind the move, you may well end up being eclipsed by the competition, he warns.

We had previously gone to America with another company and did a better job of it this time,” he says. “We went to the US quite early: we took venture capital, made a big investment and hired five excellent people, all in Manhattan, including a number of top sellers from other companies – literally the number one seller across the whole of the US.

“We brought it to a really big point so we knew we’d break through: if you just hire one person, you don’t know after a year whether it was the person, was it you, did we not get critical mass… so we had learned to make a bigger investment – and that really paid off. 

“Some of those people are still with us today, and that’s really helped. We went from an office in Manhattan to then open in LA and Chicago and Atlanta and Detroit and San Francisco.”

He adds: “Regional hubs are very important for us as a business and we wanted to do that in the US first rather than working our way around Europe, because in the US you can be in Boston, but you can still have a national advertiser based regionally who is going to deploy a campaign across the whole of the US, which can be very valuable. 

“That’s why the US was a big focus for us: we knew we wanted to win there.”

The company uses artificial intelligence and mobile data to optimise media campaign delivery in real-time. Earlier this year, the scaleup was valued at around £150 million in a private equity takeover which could see it entering a phase of M&A, while Upstone says it could well IPO in the next 3-5 years.

Mobile AdTech platform LoopMe ‘looking seriously at IPO’

The firm estimates gross revenues of nearly $100m for 2021, having achieved revenue growth of around 50% a year over the past three years, with the majority of revenues now coming from the United States. 

Its high level of organic growth has been achieved by upskilling internal staff, he says. “I think one of the most important things to think about when you’re hiring is not just the job that needs to be done now, but it’s the job that needs to be done over the next five years to create something really big and meaningful. You’re not just looking for experience and an incredible skillset, but also the ability for them to grow and develop as the business grows. 

“We’ve got senior leaders now in the business that have been there for six years or more, who have arrived, done a great job but also have developed themselves throughout the time we’ve been there to grow and manage bigger teams as well. I think that’s been a big part of our success: to hire and develop our own talent, to invest in our people and help them develop. 

“From time to time you can augment that with other new hires – going to the US, obviously, is going to be a wholly new US team: you would very rarely take a UK team over there to try and run it. You’d get local people to do that.”

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