Canadian Entrepreneur Blazes a Path in Performance Marketing with WhatRunsWhere

Thursday night’s conclusion to the NBA playoffs didn’t sit well with Max Teitelbaum, cofounder of Toronto-based performance marketing startup WhatRunsWhere.

“I’m devastated,” said Teitelbaum. “I wanted San Antonio to win and Tuesday was their chance.”

An avid fan of the sport, Teitelbaum feels that a few parallels exist between running a startup and running plays on the court. He cofounded WhatRunsWhere at the tender age of 20, and before that he had already been running online businesses since the age of 15.

“You have different positions within a team that play unique rolls and each of them have their strengths,” said Teitelbaum. “You have to have team work, you have to be unselfish and you have to be able to see how a play is developing, acting and reacting in a quick fashion.”

He sees his startup as a team ready to win increased market share in a space dominated by the likes of comScore and Nielsen.

WhatRunsWhere can be a seriously valuable tool for brands seeking insight about what their competitors are doing. It’s a competitive intelligence service for online media buying, helping advertisers buy more intelligently and discover new traffic sources while keeping an eye on their competition.

With packages as low as $229 per month, the company offers a decent pricing scheme too.

The humbly spoken Teitelbaum isn’t your average 22-year-old. At just 15 he took advantage of the growing Second Life virtual world, paid a developer a few hundred dollars to program an online gambling game and sold it to a few sites for a few thousand dollars. (This was when Second Life’s currency was exchangeable for the greenback.)

With Second Life fading out he took to online performance marketing and started several agencies over the next five years prior to university. During this time he was able to generate “ a lot of money very quickly,” which he kept invested in subsequent campaigns.

“The performance marketing scene looked like a very logical next step and I was lucky enough to find great resources and people I could talk to,” he said.

The only postsecondary education he possesses is a few years studying part-time at McGill University. He entered the Montreal school having already run an extremely successful business, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars as a teenager.

Performance marketing at its core is taking other people’s products and services, promoting them online and taking a cut. The potential to make big profits didn’t always come easy for the Torontonian though. “I would be waking up every three hours for two years making sure that my servers were still up and running, because if your servers go down you start throwing money out the window,” said Teitelbaum. “It can be extremely stressful.”

Somewhere along the line he hooked up with his cofounder Mike Cojanu, who Teitelbaum admits is nearly always right about things. Cojanu heads up the technical office in San Diego and apparently coded the original platform on a laundry bin in his living room. Teitelbaum stayed at his house for a week, sleeping on the floor, while they etched out the details of their company.

Teitelbaum isn’t the only young tech entrepreneur who attained success at a young age. App Hero’s Jordan Satok is just 19 and was the youngest CEO to raise venture capital when Omers Ventures invested $1.8 million last year.

Not surprisingly (given Toronto’s small-world tech community), Teitelbaum and Satok are strong friends. In fact, after meeting at last year’s GROW conference in Vancouver, the pair soon realized they were distant cousins.

Satok praises Teitelbaum for being “incredibly bright and down-to-earth,” and feels the company will continue innovating in the marketing space.

“If you buy a billboard on a street corner its pretty hard to figure out what impact that has on sales,” said Satok. “So the promise of the Internet has always been that brands can properly track ROI, and what Max has been able to do with his company is provide real insights and competitive analysis for brands that delivers strategic value.”

The next few years will be interesting for the company, and Teitelbaum realizes it could hit an inflection point where large growth is required. Or simply an exit.

But he’s not worried. “We’re in an advantageous position because we never raised funding, so if we sell the business we make a decent amount of money, or we continue to run it and grow as quickly as possible.”

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