Buzzvil Career contains interviews of our team leaders to be clear on what we are looking for in job candidates so they can get an idea if we are a good fit for them. Opened job positions in global business are listed here.
This article is a job interview with Joshua who joined Buzzvil in 2013 and is responsible for Buzzvil’s overall business strategy, including global business development, service operations, and marketing. We talked about who he thinks is a good manager for global business development. If you want to see for yourself how a business deal is developed and completed, please pay attention to this article.
Please describe the role of a Global Business Development Manager.
First, the role of Buzzvil’s Global Business Development Manager (hereafter ‘manager’) position can be divided into two major categories, depending on the type of partners you’re dealing with. First of all, we have the manager focusing on the ‘demand’ side of the business. This global business development manager is in charge of securing the advertising demand from the advertisers and ad network partners and overseeing the operation of the optimization logic for the revenue from advertisement. We also have the same position for the supply side which is the main topic of this interview. For the sake of convenience, the ‘Global Business Development Manager’ I will be referring to in this article will be the one in charge of the ‘supply’ side of the business.
The manager is responsible for providing our mobile lockscreen media platform ‘BuzzScreen’ for partners who operate their own mobile app, or ‘publishers’ for industry insiders. Publishers can easily develop lockscreen advertising service for their own brands based on BuzzScreen SDK or in some cases, Buzzvil develops and delivers white label lockscreen app.
Publishers can gain extra profits from advertising through the introduction of locked screen advertising services and increase loyalty from existing mobile app users. Users can receive rewards for various goods provided by the publisher lockscreen app. If the publisher’s service is online shopping app, the user can get a points to get discount for online shopping, or if it is a loyalty program, one can pick up points for the service. In addition, there are numerous ways it can be used for content services such as credit for paid content or discounts on paid subscription. Based on the advertising revenue generated by lock screen advertising services, you can offer the users specific benefits for each publisher’s service and ultimately maximize customer retention and boost revenue.
Buzzvil as an ad network can sell these lock-screen advertising pages, obtained through partnerships, with to advertisers. Securing more pages/media leads to reach more users ultimately increases the value of the advertising platform. It is the most important task for the manager to accomplish in order to establish a rock-solid platform.
I regard the task closer to consulting than sales as it is important to make suggestions that fit the category and context of each publisher rather than simply selling the product. At a large scale, the purpose and product strategy of lockscreen services may vary depending on the categories as described above, and at a smaller scale, it is important to offer ideas that reflect the situation of each of partners even though they belong to the same category. To offer the best individual solutions, you need to understand the status of your target partners and build up your understanding of the product by using it yourself.
As for global business development, we are focusing on partnership operations centered on categories such as loyalty programs and telecommunications companies that have already been proven to be good partners in South Korea. It’s because there’s a lot of references to offer, and our product strategy is pretty well structured that we can approach it efficiently.
However, because the global market environment is clearly different from Korea, we do not always follow our strategy for domestic categories. For example, the partnerships with the smartphone device manufacturers took place first on the global stage, not in the Korean market, and also the partnerships with content services are becoming more internationally diverse. To give you an example, a deal in which a partner with a cloud storage business provides additional storage for free in exchange for the use of a lock screen service had been unheard of in Korea, but such collaboration has been gaining positive response at the global level since it was launched.
Why did you choose Buzzvil?
Although this is not the case for all of them, a lot of the business models of domestic startups are similar to the services that already dominate overseas markets. Some just benchmark foreign models from the very start, while others happen to launch their businesses at similar times as their global counterparts. What I think is important is focusing on the fact that there are already strong competitors overseas, rather than debating who came up with the idea first. At the end of the days, in these cases, the fact remains that it is difficult to penetrate overseas markets.
By contrast, I think Buzzvil has a product that can go global in earnest. The lockscreen business model is not imported from the outside but has been developed right here by domestic startups like Buzzvil. Since then, there have been competitors offering similar services from all over the world, but so far, there have been few cases that have grown to the level of the Korean operators. I think it’s because the business is orientated on generating revenue from advertisement and rewarding the users and without proper management of the sales and the cost of the rewards being paid out, the firms in the industry could end up in financial disarray in no time.
In addition, Buzzvil’s lock screen business model is centered on a B2B model called BuzzScreen, unlike other lock screen service providers. Many startups spend a lot of money on marketing when they explore the foreign market and end up with a massive setback, but since we’re working together with publishers and reaching out to their users, there is no big marketing cost. This is what we call a “scalable” model.
There are so many reasons why Buzzvil is an excellent place to work, but looking back on the time I first joined, what drew me to the company was that it was based on a model that could go global. There is still a long way to go, but in the field of global business, both I and the company have grown a lot. Now that we have team members more capable than I am, I do not have to do it alone and things are a lot easier so I feel confident that we can do even better.
What’s it like to work at Buzzvil?
Buzzvil is a place to trust and allow freedom for individual Buzzvillians. It’s particularly suitable for someone who wants to set up their own business later, or those who want to see a task through from start to finish and watch themselves develop.
In some ways, you can think of autonomy as having a rather loose discipline and lacking in control, or sometimes you can understand it as having ‘no process’. In fact, Buzzvil has a fairly well-structured process and system for a startup, although that is not to say that it can be improved in some areas. There is the fact that the process can not keep up with the pace the company is growing at, but some of the gaps are intentional in order to ensure autonomy for each staff. Rather than feel uncomfortable about the lack of processes, I think it’s a great place for those who enjoy the freedom they are given, or the opportunity to create an efficient process themselves.
Also, there is a sense of mission for those involved in this department. I think global business can be exhausting and draining because it always takes longer time and more effort than what was originally planned, but I think those involved in it can employ more patience because of the sense of mission.
What’s the team like?
Just like anywhere in Buzzvil, we’re trying to create a culture of autonomy. In particular, for global business development managers, the scope of the job is wide, and sometimes they work away from the office because of business trips and so on, so I think freedom is very important for this line of work.
We have gone through a lot together since we entered the global market. There’s a sense of camaraderie, and there’s a desire that ‘our team should do better than others’. You do not hear someone from the team saying things like, ‘this is not my job.’ Everyone is taking their initiative and always ready to go the extra mile. I think we get along better because everyone works hard and there are no “free riders” you may find in other organizations. I am so grateful for that.
Last year, the team members booked a trip to Mongolia, and they were nice enough to ask me, the team manager, to come along which is pretty unusual in Korean culture. I was not sure if I should, but they kept urging me to come along. So I said yes without playing hard to get (I am not very good at taking hints anyway haha). It shows how comfortable we are with each other. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them once again for inviting me for the trip.
What makes a good business development manager?
#Initiative and motivation
I think I’ve talked enough about autonomy and initiative as a key value for Buzzvil, so I will just quickly add that a global business development manager must be able to lead projects self sufficiently and energetically in order to achieve the tasks at hand.
Developing a global business is not an easy task. Choosing a target company and formulating suitable solutions for them is difficult as it is, and finding someone within the target company to help you see it through is even harder. Even the same solution may not bear same result, depending on the person you are dealing with. Depending on the situation, some of your counterparts may understand where you are coming from, while others just won’t take any interest. So if you fail at first, you don’t give up, but carry on by trying to find someone else in the same company who may be interested. You might have to do a research on LinkedIn, or ask to be introduced by one of your contacts. You must keep trying and when the time comes, remember to keep your composure when making an aggressive proposal.
But I am sure the seeds I have sowed will bear fruition at some point. A deal can take anything from three months to a handful of years to be completed. In fact, we recently signed a big partnership deal which took us over two years. Even if a business rejects a proposal right now, they may come knocking on the door later when their situation and strategy have changed. The results do not seem to arrive immediately and it could be very frustrating, but you have to keep pushing.
The Global Business Development Manager is a representative of Buzzvil to the publishers and internally, it is an important position in which you need to correspond and coordinate with relevant parties such as Product Manager and Technical Account Manager for the projects. Project management and communication skills are essential if you want to deliver what you promised to publishers on time or avoid committing yourself to something that is not feasible. In addition, most global publishers communicate in English or other foreign languages, so for this role, foreign language skills are also crucial.
Sometimes there’s a lot of discussions on the technical side of things, but you do not necessarily have to have background knowledge or experience. I think it’s enough if you have an interest and are willing to understand how the product works. For the technical aspects, you get help from the Product Manager and Technical Account Manager, so there are people with whom you can work as one team.
What positions are opened now? (As of Nov. 2018)
We are currently hiring a Global Business Development Manager. We’re looking for someone to be based in Seoul and another to work in our Tokyo office. Because the Japanese market is very insular, the Japanese office focuses only on finding Japanese partners. Although a native applicant will be preferable, the opportunity is open to Koreans who have lived in Japan for a long time. The manager based in Seoul will be working with partners around the world.
If you want to experience how a business progresses from start to finish, and if your goal is making it big in global business, do not miss this chance!