Interview with Robert Gryn CEO Codewise

Robert Gryn is the CEO of Codewise the company behind Voluum and Zero Park traffic network. I met Robert and his CTO Bartek at Adsimilis Meetup in Dubai. It was a good experience meeting these guys as I wanted to know about their tracker and I had many questions and concerns about it, and also about their traffic network. Both of them were pretty cool about it and answered all my questions. In fact that meeting convinced me to try both their products. To share more about their products I decided to interview Robert on my blog and share his views with my readers. Okay so lets start with the interview …

Robert GrynTell us a little bit about yourself. How old are you? Where do you live? etc

My name’s Robert Gryn, I’m 28 years old and I currently live in Krakow, Poland where my company Codewise is based.

How long have you been working in this industry, and how did you get involved? What was your first money maker?

I started with affiliate marketing almost in 2005, when I started promoting a pay-to-surf type site thru it’s referral program. I got into CPA marketing in 2009.

Can you please tell us a little about your professional background?

After I finished my studies, I got a job at a startup called Elephant Traffic. What they did is similar to what ZeroPark does now.  When working there I got involved with everything, including marketing, finances, operations, IT management, project management, sometimes even HR. It’s the experience that changed my life and gave me the balls to start my own company after I quit.

What is the most expensive thing you ever bought?

Erm, an apartment 🙂 I don’t really splurge out on fancy things. I like a good pair of shoes and a nice watch, but I’m quite reasonable.

What is your biggest achievement so far? And also what are your biggest failures?

Biggest achievement is having grown Codewise to where it’s at today which is 36 people based in a fantastic office space. I honestly sometimes feel like I’m dreaming when I try to get my head around where we’re at and how far we can now go.

Biggest failures.. I try not to think in such terms as I don’t believe in regretting decisions and/or looking back unless you can learn from it. Purely financially, there was one day where I lost $300k due to an IT error in our internal tracker. That was tough to bounce back from.

What is your Daily Routine?

Get up around 7-8AM (I don’t use an alarm clock) shower with loud music, do some light exercise and stretching. I either walk or bike to work. At work I typically have a couple of meetings, product meetings, management meetings and what not – I like to know what’s going on. In regards to the actual work.. I’ve now delegated all of my tedious small tasks to others so I work on business development and think about the bigger picture for Codewise. Be it planning our next project, or seeing how we can grow ZeroPark and Voluum.

What tips would you give to those who want to take the path of entrepreneurship?

See question #21. There are many tips but going back to question #3 I highly recommend getting a job at a startup. There’s no better way to learn than at someone elses expense.

Are you an affiliate yourself?

I’m no longer an active affiliate. As strange as this may sound to some, it’s made me a happier person. I was burnt out, couldn’t look at any more LPs, I also realized I wasn’t motivated by money. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that we needed the cashflow to sustain growth at Codewise as we weren’t profitable yet. As soon as we turned profitable I ended my media buys with great pleasure and relief as I wasn’t able to focus on the big picture doing nitty gritty things. I still read about AM on various forums as I like to stay in touch with trends.

Tell us about Voluum  and what inspired you to start this service ?

We created a custom tracker for my needs as I was sick and tired of CPVLab crashing on me weekly, having to wipe all my data 2 times a day and all that. Then at Affiliate Summit West 2013 I showed a couple of guys our tracker and I pulled up 500 million clicks of data within 30 seconds. Their reaction was “WTF, is that a screenshot?” I said, no, that’s our internal tracker. To which they responded, build a public version and take our money! That’s all we went off of to start working on Voluum later after the conference.

As we all know setting up a tracker like yours is not a bed of roses, what was your biggest problem when you started?

The biggest challenge is that you’ll never know what the needs of others are until they start using your product. That’s the exact reason I pushed back the paid launch twice, by 6 months in total. We built it the way I thought would be suitable to affiliates, not looking at other self-hosted solutions as we didn’t want to take too much ‘inspiration’. The postponement of the launch allowed us to add critical features that would justify us charging money for our platform.

How large is your team? How many people work under you?

Codewise is currently 36 people – 70% developers. Nobody works under me as we have a horizontal structure 🙂 By next year we’ll be around 70 people and to accommodate, our new office building is being built right next door as I write.

There are a lot of Tracking solutions these days, What makes yours different and how does it stand out?

Nobody has put in the level of investment and time into a tracker as us. In fact, in our company, we do not consider any self hosted tracker as competition. It’s not us being cocky, it’s just that building a self-hosted tracker limits you to being just that. Our plans go beyond that.

We’re a heavily tech company, we’ve built our own database solution which not many companies in the world have done. We’ve also set up and built a highly sophisticated server infrastructure on Amazon Web Services to handle the billions of visits and clicks (soon impressions). We’re actually one of their largest customers in central Europe. We also constantly revise the technologies that we use to stay in the forefront of the IT world. This approach keeps us dynamic, competitive and perhaps most importantly, it keeps our developers motivated as they’re extremely passionate about new tech.

To sum up, what makes us the most different is that we are thinking next level. Tracking is just the beginning for us but it opens us up to many very exciting opportunities for consolidating a heavily fragmented industry – the whole performance marketing industry.

Many people argue it is not a good idea to have their all your tracking data including offers and keywords on someone else`s server what you would say about it?

To be honest, I always knew this would be a challenge. At the same time I knew it was a matter of educating people and also, a matter of building a product so good, that people would just forget about it and appreciate the fact that they can focus on what they do best: affiliate marketing.

The biggest fact that proves the shift in mindset is that Voluum grew to now nearly 3000 users purely by word of mouth. We only attended a few conferences and posted on a couple of forums, the rest spread via our users recommending Voluum to one another.

Do you have any plans to launch self-hosted version of voluum ?

We will not be launching a self-hosted version. It’s not a scalable business long-term. I’m happy to leave that part of the market to the smaller players in the tracking space.

Tell us a little about about Zero Park?

ZeroPark is our bread & butter so to speak. It started out as a self-serve platform to resell domain traffic, and we’ve now moved to other forms of traffic such as pops. Currently we have close to 8 billion visitors (redirects) available a month, and that will double very soon. Think of ZeroPark as a PPV network with a twist.

What are your plans for the future?

We’re constantly hiring talented developers as we want to continue growing both ZeroPark and Voluum. More importantly, we’re now starting a third project which in terms of scale will trump both. More details will come on that soon 🙂

What are the challenges you are facing right now and how are you planning to overcome those challenges?

Our main challenge is hiring right now. Especially support and account management type roles where experience is key as well a fluent English. We work with about 10 recruitment agencies and attend various job fairs in Poland. We’re also looking to bring people in from abroad which we’ve done already a few times. We’re also playing with the ideas of opening an international office(s).

What are your favorite traffic sources? And why?

I used to be a high volume CPA media buyer. So I wouldn’t do much optimization myself, I’d work with 3rd parties that run thru AppNexus and in the older days RightMedia. On the buys that I would optimize myself I liked 50onRed due to the scalability, and for mobile PlugRush was my fav.

Lastly and shamelessly, ZeroPark, as I don’t know of any other self service traffic source with that amount of volume 🙂

If you could go back in time and do things differently, what one thing would you change?

I wouldn’t change a thing – honestly I cannot believe we’re in the place that we’re at now with 2 successful projects and what’s more exciting are the opportunities that lay ahead of us as we have all the resources anyone could dream of to take them head on. Things fell in place nicely!

What budget do you suggest to start with affiliate marketing?

I would say $5-$10k.

Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?

I have two presentations that some of you could benefit from. I know a lot of affiliates dream and think about starting a real business. This is something I’ve finally managed to do and it took me not only a lot of time but what was more difficult.. it took a lot of personal development. I was an introverted lone wolf type for most of my life and in my talks I touch upon my personal experience of overcoming that.

Transferable Skills – Affiliate Marketer to Business Leader: http://bit.ly/1t6fDFQ

Wantrepreneur to Entrepreneur: http://bit.ly/1rraq67

 

I would like to thank Robert for taking time out of his busy schedule and sharing his time with us , those of you who are interested to buy traffic from Zero Park click here or check out his awesome tracker voluum here ~ KJ

Interview with Mal Campbell from InternetCodex.com

Its my pleasure  to interview a great friend of mine; Mal Campbell, the owner of one of the industry`s top emerging blog InternetCodex where you can read latest news about whats going on in the Affiliate Industry and the Internet Marketing Industry overall. InteretCodex has secured its prestige place in our industry, in very little time.Mal’s hard work, passion and drive to achieve success and recognition in the industry is a mission complete. He is an inspiring friend whom I have known since I started, he has seen me grow and I have overtime considered Mal as one of the very few people I aspire to be beside one day.

mal campbell

~So here we go… Mal Campbell…

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How old are you? Where do you live? Etc

My name is Mal Campbell, I’m 26 years old and I live in the beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I’m the founder and Chief Creative Director of Codex Media Group, among our web properties is InternetCodex.com an Internet Marketing industry blog.

 How long have you been working in this industry, and how did you get involved? What was your first money maker?

I’ve been building websites since I was about fifteen years old, as a matter of fact my first website was an online magazine dedicated to Playstation One video game reviews. Yet, I didn’t start doing Internet Marketing full-time until I was 18 years old. My first money maker was in mortgage lead generation in early 2006. I quit my only full-time job within three months of starting that campaign.

I built out the mortgage lead business from 2006 until late 2008 when I closed up shop during the mortgage crises. After that I dabbled with a few other niches until I started managing PPC & affiliate campaigns for insurance companies as their Agency of Record. That was in 2011 and I’ve been on the network/advertiser side of the business since.

 Can you please tell us a little about your professional background?

I got into Internet Marketing within a few months of turning 18 years old after reading a few classic marketing books including “Guerrilla Marketing” by Jay Conrad Levinson, “The Sales Bible” by Jeffrey Gitomer, “Confessions of an Advertising Man” by David Ogilvy, “Ogilvy on Advertising”, “Marketing Management” by Philip Kotler, and many, many, many more.

As for as jobs go I’ve only had one and that was as a business development specialist for TCF Bank in downtown Chicago, Illinois, USA. I was hired as a teller and promoted in a matter of weeks, it only took me a few more months to quit after realizing I didn’t want to live an average life.

 When the mortgage business died down I decided to pursue a higher education and enrolled in a university’s extension program in economics. I later switched to a community college, but dropped out after about two weeks as I didn’t have the time or patience for schooling.

So I guess you can say that my professional background is entirely centered on nearly a decade of the Internet space with sporadic fits of higher education.

 What is the most expensive thing you ever bought?

Traffic. If you cumulatively add up all of the traffic I’ve bought it’s well into the millions so I think it’s safe to say that nothing comes close.

 What is your biggest achievement so far? And also what are your biggest failures?

My biggest achievement is definitely my son who turns one year old today. He’s my shining testament of life, happiness, and love. Everything else is insipid, shallow, and unimportant in comparison to my son.

 What is your Daily Routine?

I start my weekdays around 4:30am to 5:00am and spend the morning responding to emails, missed instant messages, and working on whatever projects are in queue until about 9am. I’ll then eat and drive to my office in the financial district around 10:00am where I’ll be there until about 9-11pm. I tend to leave my office for luncheons, networking, and meetings a few times day so it’s not as if I’m behind a desk for twelve straight hours. During the week I also throw networking events and meetups in the building so I do my best to keep myself accessible and known locally.

There is a gym and pool on 6th floor’s patio so I’ll probably get myself to workout there eventually, but as we just opened up the office I’m admittedly falling behind in the fitness category.

I’m normally home and asleep by midnight and ready to repeat the process from Monday through Friday. On the weekends I’m generally playing baseball, coaching, partying, traveling, or shopping. I literally try to squeeze as much living as possible out of everyday and play as hard as I work.

 What tips would you give to those who want to take the path of entrepreneurship?

If I was talking to someone who was telling me they want to be an entrepreneur I’d speak as candidly as possible and say something along these lines:

 You need to be the hardest worker in every room you walk into, everyday for the rest of your natural life.

  • The fear of failure is far more damaging than actually failing and you need to be able to cut your losses quickly.
  • Lastly, make sure that you really want this. Most people don’t want to be entrepreneurs, they just want a lot of money and those are entirely different concerns.

Are you an affiliate yourself?

I was never a full-time affiliate and I’m running minimal traffic to offers that aren’t mine. My income has always derived from the systems and processes that I’ve created or managed, most traffic I’m managing is either going to an offer I’m managing or own.

Tell us about Internet Codex and what inspired you to start blogging?

We’re building out an entire data management business behind InternetCodex.com so I figured that I might as well start a blog to put a public face to everything that I’m doing. I really can’t talk anymore about what it is though as we’ll be one of the first to market in the Internet Marketing space. Yet I’ll just say that we’re launching everything in July of 2014.

While there are a few affiliate marketing news websites and blogs out there and I think we can execute much better than what everyone’s grown accustomed to reading.

 As we all know setting up a blog like yours is not a bed of roses, what was your biggest problem when you started?

There weren’t any problems starting it as I’ve been building out WordPress sites for years before launching this particular one so I knew exactly what to look out for. It wasn’t until we started expanding our product offering and building a network did I see an issue with maintenance and scaling. The Codex has students throughout the world logged in and taking an affiliate marketing course on one install, we’re building a database of job seekers on another install, launching web development projects on another, and we’re getting thousands of readers a month to the main blog.

This has been an exercise in scaling and redundancy to say the least.

How large is your team? How many people work under you?

There are five of us and all of them work under me. I plan on starting to hire within the next few weeks as I’m building out the remote management systems needed to employ the best people no matter where they live.

There are a lot of internet marketing blogs these days, What makes yours different and how does it stand out?

I come from a family of journalists and novelists so from adolescence I’ve been imbued with a higher set of editorial standards than typical Internet Marketers. The Codex will continue to create high quality content in a far superior format than what’s currently out there and we’ll do it by focusing on quality over quantity. Every story we post will have a particular level of human interest driving it and will be written in a manner that leaves you coming back for more.

With all due respect, most of the affiliate marketing industry news sites and blogs are terrible and the few that are any good are written by successful entrepreneurs who are genuinely busy running their businesses (ie ShoeMoney, Nickycakes, Charles Ngo, & Jason Akatiff).

The Codex already stands out, just go to it and read it for a few minutes and then visit the most popular industry news websites out there. I dare you to not come back and read a few more articles; I don’t think it’s a matter of being different now, it’s just about getting the word out that we exist.

Interestingly enough I receive at least one message or email a day congratulating me on the quality of the blog and most of the time it’s from some I’ve already admired from afar and they all tell me that the Codex needs to take out another affiliate news site.

The thing is, I’m looking past the affiliate space. I don’t want his traffic, I want Business Insider’s traffic.

 What are your plans for the future?

To continually grow the Codex into something special. We’ve been throwing large meetups since late 2013 and I’m working on my organizing our first business to business conference now.

 What are the challenges you are facing right now and how are you planning to overcome those challenges?

I would really appreciate having a few more hours in a day, my weakness is in not delegating enough. I’ve noticed that I’ve been buying books in themes throughout the years, first they were books on motivation and how to make money, then they were on technical skills and achievement, lately they’ve all been on management and human capital.

 What are your favorite traffic sources? And why?

Facebook is my favorite by and far. I love how scalable it is and it’s extremely affordable.

 If you could go back in time and do things differently, what one thing would you change?

I would of started a mortgage banking net branch instead of just selling the mortgage leads. I also would have been less apprehensive once that mortgage business died. It took me a while to get back into the groove of things and I had to learn how to cope with failure over a year’s time.

 What budget do you suggest to start with affiliate marketing?

I’d suggest that someone allocates at least $4,000 in risk capital towards their affiliate marketing efforts if they really want to make an impact in their lives. They need to test and test to really understand the nuances of traffic that can’t be taught in a course. Even more importantly though I’d recommend that they educate themselves with a mentor if possible.

There’s a lot of crap being sold out there, so be careful. Look for people already doing it and make money doing things other than selling courses on how to make money online.

Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?

Check out www.InternetCodex.com and start reading it today. Please subscribe via email and join our open Facebook group by searching “Internet Codex”.

Aside from that: Work hard, play hard, and love gently.

Cheers.

~We would like to thank Mal for his time and effort into answering the questions as fully as possible. I hope this will inspire you all and help you in YOUR IM Journeys….