We caught up with CEO, Dan Merritts, of successful US advertising start-up F#, to find out more about the company’s newfangled ad music concept and the man that runs it.
Colorado born and raised, Merritts is one of the three co-founders of the company (pronounced ef sharp), which connects brands to consumers through the power of music in purposeful ads on social media platforms - such as Spotify and Facebook.
F#, which launched in 2012, works with leading Fortune 500 brands to deliver some of the highest engagement rates in the industry. In a nutshell, it designs and develops innovative online ads that leverage the power of music to deliver enriched ad experiences.
F# works with streaming music providers, brands, and agencies that are interested in online advertising to leverage music in a new way.
Singing Their Own Tune
Merritts, who has nearly 15 years of industry-shaping experience leading product management, marketing, sales and operations for diverse, venture-backed start-ups, said F#’s unique ad solutions are specifically designed for leading online music streaming services.
On the subject of why the business was created, Merritts said: “We saw there was an opportunity to more elegantly bring music into online advertising to create more effective ads.
“There was also the opportunity of music streaming services with the explosive growth they have been seeing.”
When it comes to competition, Merritts said the business has developed a focused market for itself and has not encountered other companies who are solely focused on online music streaming and incorporating music into online advertising.
“Our love for music has helped us uncover this market that we truly know and understand and are passionate about,” Merritts said.
A Typical Day as CEO
When asked about life as a CEO at the helm of a one-year-old start-up, Merritts said no day is the same, but he appreciates the unexpected and embraces the variety of day-to-day business.
“I typically wake up around 7am to get caught up on European emails while I drink my first cup of coffee. From there, I’m typically in a marathon of phone calls until 10am or so, and I can finally head into the office,” Merritts begins.
“Most days are spent working with the team on helping solve problems faster and meeting new people who may be able to help us. Since my day is consumed with interactions, I typically catch up on work from 7pm to midnight. Sometimes I get to breakaway early… sometimes.”
Prior to founding F#, Merritts was running a boutique consulting firm focused on the start-up market and helping businesses grow revenue by doing more, quicker. He has also worked at a wide variety of start-ups including Zenprise, recently acquired by Citrix, and Loudcloud/Opsware, acquired by HP.
In addition to the F# headquarters in Manhattan, F# has a UK office in London. It also has a full European team, of which members can speak six different languages, and they work with clients in 21 different European countries. In addition to Europe, the company has clients in Australia and soon hopes to conquer Asia.
On the subject of key US and UK differences, Merritts, who employs about 50 people, said most of the major advertising work for Europe originates in the UK.
“The cross-cultural complexity is a fun problem to solve and has been rewarding. At the end of the day, 65-70% of the world’s advertising dollars still flow out of the US so the difference in budgets and scale, is the largest difference,” Merritts said.
Pulling in Big Brands
In one word, response to the fledgling start-up has been ‘tremendous’, Merritts beamed, as he explained how F# ads have seen some of the highest engagement rates in the industry.
Having created campaigns for some of the largest brands in the world, such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Comcast, Disney, Procter & Gamble, Verizon, Nike and more, Merritts said this is testament to F#’s unique concept.
He concluded: “We look forward to launching a platform that will give advertisers the ability to create music-powered experiences once, and deploy them across multiple end points. Stay tuned to F# as 2013 will be a big year for us!”