Founder Stories: Adrian Pollard On Building HollaEx
In today’s Founder Story, we feature Adrian Pollard, co-founder of HollaEx!
Read on for lessons he has learned from launching and marketing his business.
1. Please introduce your business and share your role.
I’m from HollaEx a white-label exchange software and cloud hosting provider. With HollaEx anyone can start their own exchange with their own digital assets. My work has largely been focused on the overall design of the white label, specifically the onboarding. HollaEx is unique as it is one of the only self-service white labels, meaning users can set up everything on their own with little friction. Other white labels tend to require months of meeting and discussing the requirements, however, HollaEx has been specifically designed to work out-of-the-box.
2. What’s your backstory, what kind of challenges did you face, and how did you come up with your business idea?
The idea naturally started from gaining speed when we realized how difficult it was to hand off an exchange system. As mentioned, this typically would take a couple of months. A lot of the security requirements make sharing such a system difficult.
In the early days, the challenge was getting a wider audience to use and trust the system which understandably in crypto is difficult to achieve, which is why HollaEx was slowly developed and gradually open-sourced. Naturally open-sourced systems have an inherent advantage over closed-sourced which is the case for HollaEx.
3. How did you prepare for, and go about your launch?
The main marketing strategy is sharing a freeware open-sourced version of the software on GitHub. It is the quintessential freemium model where we provide valuable services as a labor of love for free to developers and startups, but also have professional services on the side for those companies wanting extra services such as platform customizations, or more speed and power to their platform which is the case for exchanges using Holla Cloud.
4. How did you come up with your logo and the visual identity (e.g. font, color scheme, imagery) for your brand?
Both the logo and the icon version of HollaEx are basically an abstract speech bubble.
Holla is a casual hello expression and Ex is a reference to Exchange, combined it creates HollaEx, or Hello Exchange.
5. Since launching, what types of marketing campaigns and designs have worked best to attract and retain customers?
The freemium model is always a good marketing strategy. Also, adding the HollaEx brand in key locations so that when people use HollaEx, they are also advertising for us.
6. What have been the most influential brands for your business? Whose branding and marketing do you aspire to and why?
The original idea for adding our brand along with our HollaEx freeware version was from GitBook. We’ve used GitBook for HollaEx documentation and love it.
GitBook provides a useful tool for technical documentation that we use and appreciate and they put ‘Powered By GitBook’ right in the documentation sidebar for all to see, which we’ve borrowed marketing the idea from.
7. What are your favorite marketing platforms/tools?
Like any other software provider, software review websites can be a big help. Software review platforms like G2, SourceForge, and SlashDot provide a great platform for us as it allows us to highlight the key features and advantages of HollaEx.
8. Who or what inspires and motivates you?
As mentioned, GitBook is a beautiful service that can be used freely. It is inspiring how many gigantic projects use GitBook to organize highly complex technical documentation and how GitBook has made that freely available. HollaEx inspires to be as useful, yet simple to use as services like GitBook.
9. What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way that you would share with entrepreneurs hoping to launch or who have just launched?
Building is important, however, testing the product in the marketplace before launching would be advisable. Marketing earlier and getting early users and testers is key to getting out better products faster.
If you only focus on building you run the risk of building something that won’t fit in the market anywhere. Marketing, or simply getting the word out there is much harder than building, and it is almost never a bad idea to start marketing as early as possible. This could be SEO marketing, content creation, or sharing free versions. Building in the open and sharing the process could also help indirectly market.
10. What do you believe are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?
Complementary skills among team members are important, and having an appreciation for the differences between each person’s unique skills. In the end, for any start, likely each member of the team will have to wear many hats and so specializing is likely unrealistic. Entrepreneurs are generally multi-skilled, and so putting in the effort to learn various skills is going to be necessary.