A young Seattle-based software company connected with key players in international mobile advertising as part of a Washington State Department of Commerce trade delegation to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, 2012. Two years later and they're still feeling the love.
HasOffers provides tracking software for businesses that require reconciliation between advertising campaigns and the publishers who deliver traffic to those campaigns via the web, email marketing, and mobile. The company's fee-based services operate from the cloud and provide scalable, customizable programs to manage affiliate partners, create and manage advertising offers, track conversions and sales, and prevent fraud, among other functions.
Founded in 2009 in Seattle by twin brothers, Lucas and Lee Brown, HasOffers continues to double revenue year over year, employs more than 190 employees, serves 10,000 customers and tracks about $500 million in advertising. The company has garnered awards in Washington State including "Service Provider of the Year" from the Washington Technology Industry Association to "Best Boostrapped Startup" from GeekWire. [Bootstrapped describes companies that are self-financed or profitable without external angel or venture capital.]
As a web-based solution, HasOffers considered itself an international business by nature, but at the end of 2011, had done little to expand to key markets in Europe. “The European market, especially for mobile advertising, represented an enormous potential for new clients, which is why we were so eager to explore how we might effectively do business abroad,” said Peter Hamilton, chief marketing officer at HasOffers. But the company was still working through where and how to get started.
The breakthrough resulted from the Washington State Department of Commerce-led business delegation to Mobile World Congress, the mobile industry’s leading trade event held annually in Barcelona. Joining the delegation meant no-cost access to networking events, market intelligence developed by Commerce’s Europe representatives and introductions to potential business partners. At the end of the four-day congress, HasOffers had made multiple connections to potential new buyers, and expectations for forecasted sales growth as a result.
Being part of the delegation also qualified HasOffers for financial support to offset the cost of attending Mobile World Congress, one of the most expensive mobile industry trade shows. The company received $4,000 through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s State Trade and Export Promotion grant [the program was renamed the State Trade Expansion Program in 2016], which was administered in Washington by Commerce from 2011 to 2013 to boost exports by small businesses.
"The investment by the STEP program in HasOffers not only opened doors for direct commercial relationships and partnerships in the early stages of our international development, but it also opened our eyes to where we needed to be investing in the future," Hamilton said. "STEP made it possible for us to make our first trip to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but it also showed us that we need to do everything we can to have a strong presence at that event and in EMEA [Europe, Middle East and Africa] at large, which we might not have known otherwise.”
Today 40 percent of HasOffers revenue comes from international customers, and at least five of the company's top 20 international client relationships came from conversations that started at its first Mobile World Congress. The show's momentum also prompted HasOffers to host a booth itself in 2014, with a 15-person delegation of its own to staff it.
Said Hamilton, "Being on the ground, and on the front lines in EMEA is extremely important in the global economy of online and mobile, and we're grateful to the STEP program for how it impacted us."