AnyMind Group turns 3 - exclusive interview with Kosuke Sogo, CEO and co-founder of AnyMind Group
To mark AnyMind Group’s 3rd birthday, we sit down with Kosuke Sogo, CEO and co-founder of AnyMind Group, to reminisce about the journey so far, and to break down some of the recent moves by the company.
Can you share with us more about the company at present?
It’s been a really exciting journey for us. As founders, Otohiko and I definitely found it exciting, and I’m sure our staff will also say the same. This experience of working in such a fast-growing company is definitely hard to find. With that said, we’re still in the process of growing as a startup - with many interesting highlights and challenges.
Right now, we’re in 11 markets across Asia, with over 450 staff. Three companies: FourM, Acqua Media and Moindy, have joined the AnyMind Group family, and we have three unique businesses with AdAsia Holdings, CastingAsia, and TalentMind.
We’ve also recently closed our Series B round at US$21.4 million, taking total funding to almost US$36 million. This is significant, as we’ve brought in strategic partners like LINE Corporation and VGI Global Media.
How has the company evolved over time?
To put things in perspective, we had 98 people on our first birthday. We’ve increased that by more than four times to 450 people within the two subsequent years.
Branching out into three businesses across different industries has its own challenges, but most importantly, we adapted and evolved to become even stronger than before.
We’re still moving at the same speed - Early on, we focused on growing our geographic span - entering the right markets at the right time. At the same time, we quickly grew the capabilities of our people and offerings (like digital-out-of-home to compliment our online advertising solutions, and influencer network to complement our influencer marketing platform). We’re always looking at new ways that we can provide our clients with greater returns.
In that same vein, I’ve never said we’re the most perfect company around. We’re always looking to strengthen our existing products, capabilities and offerings. As a company that has grown so quickly, we always need to keep an eye on the future - looking to build scalable infrastructures both internally and externally - and having the ability to identify and quickly rebuild any structure that is unable to scale.
What is the ideal profile for someone working at AnyMind Group?
From the very first day, we held this same philosophy in our hiring, promoting and employee recognition programs - age, nationality, and experience do not matter. What matters is the hunger, commitment, and capabilities shown when a person has joined the company.
We’re all working towards providing “Growth for Everyone” - extending across clients, businesses, industries, and even society at large, providing them with the tools and resources to further their returns. At the same time, we’re also committing to the growth of our staff, providing them with an ideal environment, resources, training, and progression in our company.
Although the company may have grown to quite a large size, we’re still a startup - and we need to possess the same grit and hunger as three years ago. We also need to always keep an eye towards the future, and work together to achieve greater growth.
How does the acquisition of Moindy Digital impact the company’s future plans?
The Moindy acquisition was the next logical step for CastingAsia as a business. We have built a solid offering in influencer marketing to marketers - be it CastingAsia Engagement or the CastingAsia platform - and that business has scaled into all of our operating markets.
What we’re trying to achieve with the newly launched CastingAsia Creators Network is to provide a foundation for content creators to connect with the world. We want to equip aspiring creators with the tools, resources, and support to go global.
What we’re doing as well is to scale the expertise of Moindy in growing and managing talents, into the rest of Asia and the world. We’re looking to connect creators on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even emerging ones like Tik Tok, to the right resources and training, helping them expand the number of social media platforms that they’re working with, their followers, and engagement.
This way, we can drive a move towards a better influencer marketing industry - by providing creators with best practices for them to express themselves, and ensuring that marketers are working with reliable brand advocates.
Ultimately, we want to empower our creators to create content that inspires their audience to take action - truly driving influence. We also want to ensure we match the right creators with the right brands - through the CastingAsia platform’s discovery and marketplace functions, and through our influencer marketing teams across Asia.
In the advertising space, there were moves into digital-out-of-home (DOOH) advertising and enhancement of online publisher offerings. Could you explain more?
We set up a joint venture in Thailand with VGI Global Media, the largest out-of-home media owner in Thailand - equipping our advertising technology into their digital signage across Thailand. What this means is that our clients will have access to a DOOH marketplace through the AdAsia Digital Platform for Advertisers.
This is only the first step, as we will be looking to expand this into more countries in Asia, and open up more kinds of inventory. What we’re looking to do is to create a world of connected advertising - ensuring that people have better advertising experiences.
Combined with our current offerings for both advertisers and online publishers, that span display, native and video advertising, we want to ensure that advertisers and marketers are able to create the best advertising experiences to their audiences.
On the publisher front, our moves for AdAsia360 allow publishers to tap on a platform that manages and tracks online and offline revenue streams for their online properties, optimizes demand sources and floor pricing and more. What we’re looking to do is to provide publishers with an automated assistant for their manual and time-consuming tasks.
Ultimately, we want to drive the industry towards safe advertising experiences that matter to audiences.
AdAsia Digital Platform for Advertisers - DOOH
As a business owner, what is one key takeaway from the past three years of AnyMind Group?
Adaptability. Asia is evolving rapidly, in its own unique manner. To do well in Asia, it’s important for businesses to localize their offerings - from products and services to internal structures and management. Understanding the nuances of each market is key to this.
We’ve run on this strategy for the past three years, and it has proven to be effective - adapting to the needs of each country.
The past three years had its ups and downs, but we’ve always adapted and improved on what we’re doing. The company at this stage is definitely not the finished product, and we’re looking at new ways to grow and adapt our business to fit the needs of all of our stakeholders, providing the growth for everyone.