We talked to Andreas Widmann on how RoadAds interactive puts vehicles in the spotlight with digital billboards and this is what he had to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Andreas Widmann: All in all, we are doing pretty well. I have twins who will turn 2 in March next year, and we are awaiting a third child. So the times are quite busy and stressful when you are at home most of the time, and the kids cannot go to kindergarten. But on the other hand, I enjoy being around my wife and children that much.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded RoadAds?
Andreas Widmann: I am 28 years old, a former student of biosciences and informatics at the University of Heidelberg, and now founder and CEO of RoadAds interactive. I founded the company while still being a student, so I never worked in a “normal” job and therefore have no “career” in the classical sense.
How does RoadAds innovate?
Andreas Widmann: We are the worlds leading company in providing digital vehicle advertising. We developed unique ePaper displays that can be mounted on or integrated into vehicles and can show ads and information on the road. This gives completely new opportunities for communication. The content can be created and managed using our online platform. You can define advertising conditions such as weather or traffic, as well as time and advertising region. The displays are equipped with GPS, LTE, and Wi-Fi and can adapt the content in real-time.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Andreas Widmann: Fortunately, back in 2019, we switched our focus from mainly selling ads to mainly being a hardware and software company, which provides its display and platform solution for third parties. We found that a lot of people were interested in using our technology for their communication. We were lucky, as the advertising market dropped basically to zero at the beginning of 2020, but we are doing quite well with our hardware business.
Of course, we now see that customers are a bit cautious and planned purchases are delayed to 2021, and we see that it is quite hard to acquire new customers at the moment. On the other hand, the advertising business is slowly coming back, and there are industries (especially in the context of transportation) that are booming like never before. So we are currently testing new markets, taking time to modernize and enhance our production, develop new product features, and make ourselves ready for 2021.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Andreas Widmann: Until now, I was quite lucky, as I didn’t have to make decisions like firing someone because of the pandemic. But of course, you now think twice before spending any additional money. The times are hard as you can’t plan. Is a customer going to buy? Will the order be delayed? Will, there be another lockdown, or will someone in production be in quarantine, and everything needs to stop? So the future is unpredictable, and your safety margin needs to be much higher than before the pandemic.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Andreas Widmann: I always try to stay “on top of it” and don’t let it affect me too much. I think the worst that can happen is anxiety paralyzing you. So I always ask myself what’s the worst that could happen and if I could still get out of that situation. In the end, the answer is almost every time, “YES.” And so the situation can’t be as bad as I thought in the very beginning. Usually, doing nothing will make the situation worse, so I try not to be afraid of making decisions and keep going. Of course, my family helps me a lot, because even if everything would fall apart, I would still have them, so why even worry 🙂
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Andreas Widmann: We don’t have direct competition in providing digital vehicle advertisement technology. Yet, we compete with every other form of vehicle advertising and advertising in general. If a customer prefers to buy, e.g., ads in magazines instead of advertising on his vehicles, this is your competition. I think we have quite a good standing, as we deliver great features like automized impression tracking, geo-fencing, or real-time content. This makes it comfortable and flexible to use RoadAds for your advertising purposes. I believe that such features we know from online advertising will see an increasing demand in the future, and we already offer a lot of them.
Your final thoughts?
Andreas Widmann: I hope that we can manage this pandemic and fight the virus effectively. Everyone must stay at home whenever they can and reduce their contacts. Until the vaccines are ready and widely spread, this is the only thing we can do.
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