Medialets chairman and CEO Eric Litman's first job was as a barker on the main street in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, convincing tourists to come in and buy T-shirts.
"I learned a very real sense of humility from doing that," says Litman. "People in general don't like to be bothered when they're on vacation. Trying to find ways to personally connect with them so you're not pushing them against their will to do something, but actually getting them interested in a product you're offering is really hard to do, and an important skill that's helped me meaningfully throughout my career."
That's especially true since Medialets' mission is to get people to watch and engage with rich-media ads on their mobile devices—another place where people don't like to be pestered.
"The biggest advertisers and publishers in the world are trying to figure out how to deliver a message to a consumer on a very personal medium in a way that meaningfully connects, that's not annoying or too invasive, and supports the brand in a positive way," says Litman. "We're trying to make [mobile] ads much more interesting at big, big scale."
A look at recent campaigns shows that Medialets has found myriad ways to do just that. Just to name a couple, Medialets created a "tornado" for Storm Chasers that blows through your phone's screen and "cracks" the glass; a Dunkin' Donuts game lets players lob blueberries into cups of coffee (angry berries?).
The company, which has raised more than $18 million in capital, enables rich mobile advertising for more than 200 premium publisher apps and mobile websites, reaching 75 million devices each quarter. Litman, who years ago worked with Steve Jobs at NeXT, says the creativity he witnessed there allowed NeXT to do things that were radically different from other tech companies—something he emulates.
"Seeing that creativity [at NeXT] has driven me to infuse creativity into everything I've done, and this business just drips and oozes with creativity."
Click "play" above to see how Medialets is helping brands revolutionize their advertising for a mobile age.
Read more from Litman on social capital investment strategy.