Roland Ros is the Founder of Kumu, a live streaming app with close to 5 million GenZ & Millennial Filipinos spread out in over 50 countries. Since it was launched in 2018, Kumu has reached the #1 Grossing Social App in the Philippines, #10 in Canada, and Top 25 in several other markets like Saudi Arabia, Italy, Hong Kong, Kuwait, and Australia. Before Kumu, Roland built a career as a growth engineer, with a track record generating millions of customers for Fortune 500 and high growth tech companies in the United States.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Roland says:
Prioritize and prepare across these specific key areas: Technological advantage, operating plan, team, funding, and timing. I would test your business assumptions against Peter Thiel’s 7 questions in Zero to One.
I do my morning ritual, which consists of reading my short, mid, and long term goals, my morning meditation, and my morning exercise.
Read on to know more about Roland Ros and his journey.
Please tell me about your personal background, and What motivated you to get started with your company?
Roland Ros: I am an Adtech Entrepreneur born and raised in Los Angeles. After a successful exit in Silicon Valley (Tracking202), I engaged in humanitarian work in the Philippines. Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia inspired me to go back and build a tech company in the Philippines since this work could have a high positive impact on the country.
What is your current main product, and can you share any previous product pivot story to the current product?
Roland Ros: We are a Livestream app popular with GenZ and Millennial Filipinos. We were previously a messaging app that pivoted into Livestream based on high retention cohorts and growth metrics. Our business is a community-driven approach to microtransactions and e-commerce.
How much money have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
Roland Ros: We’ve raised a little over $6M. Our most recent round was for $5M Series A.
How have you attracted users, and with what strategy have you grown your company from the start to now?
Roland Ros: Mainly through relevant content and interactive experiences that users choose to share with close friends.
Which has been the best marketing software tool for the growth of your startup, and why?
Roland Ros: Clevertap and AppsFlyer have worked together nicely to arrive at a quantitative analysis of our target markets.
What do most startups get wrong about marketing in general?
Roland Ros: Spend too much on growth acquisition before qualifying the product/market fit.
What were the internal decision processes in determining when to begin fundraising, and what were the logistics for this? And how many investors have you met so far, and how did you meet these investors and which channels worked best for you?
Roland Ros: Once we recognized strong user personas that we could scale, and model out a stable business, we knew we needed to fundraise to tighten our product and invest in growth. Our lead investor Openspace Ventures was important in helping us direct our strategy with other investors who joined in on the round.
What are the biggest challenges and obstacles that you have faced in the process of fundraising? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Roland Ros: I probably would have raised more money at the Pre Series A stage, had a clear understanding of investor metrics that are important so that we didn’t have to waste valuable quarters getting to those goals.
What are your milestones for the next round? And what are your goals for the future?
Roland Ros: We are looking to raise a Series B round sometime during early 2021. We have some aggressive growth and profitable unit economic goals we are looking to hit to get there.
What are the most common mistakes companies make with global expansion?
Roland Ros: Most companies make the mistake of not having the right country management team in place.
How do you handle this COVID-19 outbreak situation for your company’s survival in the future?
Roland Ros: We have handled this by doing lots of covid testing, lots of communication with managers, a wellness and leisure program built for the rest of the team.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company?
Roland Ros: Not enough preparation, especially when it comes to mental strength.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Roland Ros: Prioritize and prepare across these specific key areas: Technological advantage, operating plan, team, funding, and timing. I would test your business assumptions against Peter Thiel’s 7 questions in Zero to One.
What are the top-three books or movies (TV series) that changed your life and why?
Roland Ros: The Hard Thing About Hard Things – I think it is the best startup founder resource out there by far. It helped me prepare my mind mentally for the craziness that would happen.
7 Effective Habits of Highly Effective People – If you adhere and understand the principles of this book, this could be all the self help you need to be effective.
There Will Be Blood – a quintessential movie that showed me the hard work expected to outhustle, execute, and the price required to succeed against all the odds.
How do you keep yourself motivated every day?
Roland Ros: I do my morning ritual, which consists of reading my short, mid, and long term goals, my morning meditation, and my morning exercise.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently to improve your life if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Roland Ros: I wish I had prioritized self-mastery and the internal work necessary to be mature.
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