ROI Hunter is another Brno based startup that’s more famous abroad than in the Czech Republic. The company stands among the world’s best of its business sector – developing a software platform for Facebook and Google advertising campaigns.
We spoke with ROI Hunter founder & CEO, Karel Tlusťák, about the ups and downs of doing business from Brno and the key factors to their success. His is the fourth in a series of interviews with the personalities behind notable Brno companies that operate internationally.
Karel founded the company in 2014. Now, it has sales offices in Prague, Warsaw, London, Dubai, Sao Paulo and New Delhi. The total number of employees has exceeded one hundred, with sixty of them based in Brno. The core employees still hold a major stake in the company.
ROI Hunter is a certified Facebook marketing partner and certified Google marketing platform partner. That brings the competitive advantage of faster access to their new functionalities. ROI develops a marketing platform for Facebook & Instagram ads and integrates data from Google Analytics or similar tools, and connects the data to the Customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
The business is based on the SaaS model – software as a service. Clients pay monthly subscriptions set by the volume of their advertising budget. The big clients (for example Wallmart, Peugeot, Citroen, Tchibo, Amazon Middle East or SportsDirect) get a special support and service level warranty. About 20,000 smaller clients (half of which is based in the US) manage their accounts themselves. Only a tiny share of the company’s revenues comes from the Czech market – represented by Czech major e-commerce sites like Mall, Invia, Heureka or Slevomat.
ROI Hunter has a close connection to another Brno based company named Business Factory – an online marketing agency providing complex support of the client’s brand. It shares some of ROI Hunter’s personnel & shareholders. Karel established it during his studies (in 2009), and the need for a software that would increase customers’ return on investment led to developing the technology in a spin-off company (=ROI).
The Roots of their success
ROI’s global expansion started when Facebook invited companies to their accelerator and ROI Hunter placed in the top 11. All the companies got the opportunity to intensively cooperate for 6 months and in the end, Facebook selected Karel‘s team to work with long-term. By the end of 2014, ROI became Facebook’s official partner.
Today, ROI’s the only partner in the Central and Eastern Europe and one of about fifteen most important ones worldwide. Every time Facebook releases new software, ROI Hunter’s among the first ones to test it. This, as well as their partnership with Google, opens the right doors to the giants of their international clients.
Last year, the company closed over 5 USD million series A investment with Agora (one of Poland’s largest media companies) for a 24% stake that will be used to drive geographical expansion.
„We’re still a growing startup, not a corporation with complex processes and rigid bureaucracy, where everything the programmers can contribute with is just a small piece. Here they can write a whole ‘chapter’ and feel the impact they’ve made,” Karel highlights.
Brno gives the competitive advantage with its high-quality pool of technology & engineering talents, and also the high quality of life, Karel remarks. Foreign guests are often surprised and enjoy coming back here. On the other hand, there are the well-known travelling issues with an insufficient highway to Prague and an international airport.
Cooperation with Brno universities, especially the IT Faculty at the Brno University of Technology, is the company’s long term investment. It’s not a hiring tool, but some graduates do end up finding jobs at ROI.
As the retail economy is becoming more competitive and the margins get lower, there will be a growing need for marketing data integration between websites, analytic tools and Google & Facebook channels. This is the market where ROI Hunter aspires to make its mark with all the big e-commerce players.
Karel Tlusťák comes from a small town of Bystřice pod Hostýnem. Struggling with funds during his studies, he took many odd jobs in the UK, in factories or washing dishes in restaurants. But as he wanted to enjoy his student life in Brno to the fullest, he founded his own business. Starting as a bunch of guys working from his apartment, Karel now leads two companies counting more than 200 people in five countries. His goal is to put Brno on the startup map!