In this episode of The Exit, Ken Harlan reflects the different paths that led him to where he is now. As the CEO of MobileFuse, a company focused on mobile advertising, he has started and exited multiple companies over the years. He is an advocate for learning and finding new opportunities, and he’s here to inspire other entrepreneurs to do the same.
There’s Something To Learn Everywhere You Go
Ken went to college, where he earned an accounting degree. After passing the CPA exam, Ken went into auditing, where he worked until the release of the internet caught his attention. Ready for something new, Ken went to work for a mini venture capital company where, in addition to accounting, he was permitted to sit in on investor presentations. While listening to entrepreneurs, Ken noticed it was all about relationships and references. Ken’s interests started to transition, and he decided he wanted to work for a larger technology company. At his next job, Ken learned a lot about technology before deciding he wanted to work at a dot com. He found that opportunity in running opt in lists. He wasn’t a fan of the culture there or how he was treated. One day Ken noticed a 16-year-old boy come in and the founders all fawn over him. Ken found out he was an affiliate, he owned a free stuff and coupons site. This got Ken thinking, and he searched the Internet for similar sites. The sixth site that popped up was a free and fun site with mostly broken links. Ken would buy it for $3k.
Adding Value To The Space
With his brother on board, Ken bought a few more sites. He says he would get calls from advertisers that wanted to put their coupon on his website, and he realized he could be monetizing for more. Ken had the idea of an affiliate network, which he started and then sold 18 months later. Ken says he started it because he thought it brought value and didn’t ever intend it as something to sell. As the affiliate network company grew, Ken saw that their competitor, Value Click, had just sold for a nice multiple. Having no experience of selling a company, Ken reached out to the bank that handled the transaction. They said they could easily get Ken the same results. He says they put everything together and arranged for them to meet a lot of interested buyers.
Ken is working on MobileFuse. To give some perspective, Ken sold his first business after 18 months and his second after 3 years, but MobileFuse he’s been with for over 10 years. He says that when he started, only half a percent of the internet was on mobile devices. They’re here to help brands and agencies to connect with others over the web in a meaningful way. They currently have over 200 clients and operate out of the US, with plans to expand to Europe and Canada.