GlitchAds: A platform to set up ads as easily as Stripe sets up billing

29 Jan 2024

From left: Kingsley Kelly and Aisling Browne. Image: Flavia Bianchi/Dogpatch Labs

With a focus on small B2B businesses, GlitchAds is one of the most promising start-ups to be born out of the Founders accelerator programme at Dogpatch Labs.

When Aisling Browne and Kingsley Kelly met each other on the first day of Founders, they knew they were meant to be a team. A start-up accelerator that is like speed dating for founders looking for their next big idea, Founders helped the duo set up our latest Start-up of the Week, GlitchAds.

“Current ad platforms are very complicated and time-consuming, making it difficult for people to get the best out of them without expensive expertise as an ongoing cost,” says Browne, who has previously worked at start-ups such as Wayflyer and Delio and is now CEO at GlitchAds.

“We want to make it as easy to set up your ads as Stripe made it to set up your billing. We want every small business to have a seat at the table when it comes to digital advertising.”

The focus on small business, Browne explains, is because even though SMEs account for a majority of businesses globally and represent a considerable chunk of the economic value, most of them have to keep their marketing teams and budgets quite lean.

Small B2B businesses, in particular, lack access to the diverse and innovative tools available to other industries, such as e-commerce.

“This presents an opportunity to equip this sector with technology, leveraging the power of AI,” Browne goes on. “Therefore, we believe this is the group we can help the most. We’re currently starting with SMEs within B2B space that invest €100,000 or less monthly in ads and are looking to improve their return.”

A team that was meant to be

The idea behind GlitchAds was to design a platform that could vastly improve advertising for small businesses by automating the time-consuming and monotonous ad management process.

“It will have a dual impact of helping them grow more cost efficiently while also allowing marketing teams to dedicate resources into other important areas that will help the business grow.”

But why was it start-up at first sight when Browne and Kelly met?

“I’d been automating ads for small businesses and Ash (Aisling) had been modelling those same companies’ success,” says Kelly, who has held lead engineer roles at Google and Web Summit and is now the chief technology officer at GlitchAds.

“We both knew ads worked for small businesses and we both knew that the same ads could make or break their business if done well.”

Kelly led technical integrations and innovative solutions for Google’s largest clients and built simplified versions of Google Ads for millions of small businesses. He was also one of the first members on the Web Summit engineering team and the creator of their in-house conference tech.

“At Google he saw how millions of small businesses failed to set up and manage their ads correctly, often because they didn’t have the expertise they needed, a problem AI solves,” adds Browne.

GlitchAds uses artificial intelligence technology with the aim to help small businesses set up ad campaigns within five minutes while “doubling” the effectiveness of the average SME’s ad spend.

“This process currently can take weeks, if it’s ever done correctly at all. Even with all the data gathered, done manually it can take hours,” Browne says.

“We do this by using AI to understand your business, while baking performance marketing principles used by major advertisers into every campaign – so you can have the sort of impact of large multinationals who have a lot more resources.

“Our software also acts as an opportunity spotter – suggesting ads for event opportunities, sales lulls or contextual reactive ads for news, weather, etc. This is all the norm for larger advertisers, but SMEs have been locked out, until now.”

Preparing for market

Founders kicked off at Dogpatch Labs last August as a 12-week accelerator programme and moved on to its second phase last week after selecting the top eight start-ups from the pool, one of which is GlitchAds.

In this short span of time, the start-up has bagged 20 clients for its existing beta, says Browne, with more than 80 on a growing waitlist. The initial version of the product is expected to hit the market in the next couple of months.

“The initial response has been overwhelmingly positive, reflecting the value our product provides. Feedback and insights gathered from our growing user base are instrumental in shaping the success of our product.

“So, to refine our offering, we are deploying features daily and actively engaging with users through calls and in-person meetings to get feedback to help us progress quickly. Outside of this, I am spending a huge chunk of my time securing additional testers through leveraging networks and potential partners.”

As one of the top eight start-ups at Founders, GlitchAds has secured an initial €100,000 in funding to build the first version of the product.

“However, as we need to move quickly, raising additional capital is crucial to allow us to grow fast. We’re gearing up to initiate an angel round, aiming to bring on individuals with expertise in our industry,” Browne goes on.

“We firmly believe that having these experienced professionals early in our journey will significantly accelerate our scalability – whether it’s through unlocking new opportunities or providing valuable guidance and advice.”

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic