Mobile Beach Conference 2017, scheduled for May 20-21 in Odessa, will gather the world’s leading mobile marketing companies. Additionally, organizers will host the Startup Alley competition, where pre-selected mobile companies on the early stages of growth will pitch their projects and battle for the prizes. We spoke to Marvin Liao, who will speak at Mobile Beach Conference as well as do the judging.

Marvin Liao is a Partner at global Seed VC Firm & Startup Accelerator, 500 Startups based in Silicon Valley. He invests in Digital Media, Adtech, Enterprise SAAS, Marketplace, and Mobile startups across the globe. Formerly of Yahoo! Inc. (10.5 years), Marvin has held roles in the various departments of Sales, Business Development, Ad Operations and Marketing, and ran online marketing at a venture funded e-commerce startup prior to that. He also serves on the boards/advisory boards of several internet advertising and ad technology companies. In addition, he is a Mentor for several Startup Accelerator programs in Europe, Asia, Israel and the US, helping guide startup teams with their sales, marketing and partner development efforts.

Over the last year, we saw a lot of startups appearing in the real economy: Ofo, Farmdrop, notorious Juicero, etc. What are the main reasons of such an evolution in startup world?

There is a lot of money flooding into Silicon Valley & tech business in general. Also many of the older economies have barely integrated tech or software into making their businesses. So i think this is natural occurrence that we are starting to see startups show up here too.

Are there the main areas where mobile startups appear now?

Frankly speaking, there is a huge amount of mobile apps whether utility, gaming or other type. Way too many. Where I’m seeing activity is less on consumer focussed mobile cos but more B2B/Enterprise focused ones. These tend to be vertical industry driven like in Enterprise software, fieldwork management, Digital health focussed.

Location-based advertising decisions is one of the major trends in mobile marketing now. Can you please share with us if there are some startup in this area?

Personally speaking i think this trend is way overhyped. I have not seen any companies cross the last mile of location data & doubt most startups can beat either Google or Facebook in the local data that they have.

What do you think is the main challenge for mobile marketing startups in 2017?  

I think like most mobile marketing startups its access to data & differentiation versus the many hundreds of similar type of companies out there. Because of this, fundraising from VCs is a challenge as is customer acquisition as many of the potential customers are unclear who has real tech & performs and who does now. So they tend to just go with well known brands.

You will be speaking at Mobile Beach Conference. But what would you like to listen to?

Just want to learn more about the local startup scene in Odessa, its been 3+ years since i’ve been back to the Ukraine.

You will also judge the Startup Alley. Do you have any expectations about the projects?

Just there to help give advice & learn, no major expectations!

What will you take with you to Odessa this May?

Just an open mind & eagerness to learn about local scene & meet some nice people 🙂