#NorthernStars: Interview with Liam Rushforth (Flux Media)

29 Oct, 2015

Bringing together a broad community of tech talent, Google’s Digital Garage at Leeds Dock provided an ideal waterside setting for an evening of networking, pizza, beers and the latest Northern Stars event.

Pitching to an audience of investors and digital business leaders our startups presented a diverse range of brand new digital innovations.  Founder Liam Rushforth was in his element demonstrating his out of home software, for outdoor advertising and won first place for his startup Flux Media.

Can you give me some background on you and your company?

Flux is a platform to enable the programmatic buying of digital outdoor, data-driven advertising space. Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is still sold in 2 week slots, which makes sense for paper and paste billboards – but we’re seeing more and more digital advertising screens which are much more powerful. Cornetto might only want to advertise when it’s sunny- maybe Uber want to advertise when there are delays on the tube. Approximately £150m per year is lost to unsold digital advertising space, this space can be automatically auctioned off by Flux to maximise the revenue for the screen owner.

My co-founder, Aubrey and I found that the whole process of getting a digital advert up was slow and inefficient and so started Flux 6 months ago and have progressed the idea to a viable business and are going through a seed funding round currently.

What are you working on right now?

Learning from our test screen in Newcastle City Centre where we run the software to supply all advertisements. We’ll use our findings to iterate on our offering as we move forward.


Where did your idea come from?

We had a previous startup company while at university and when it came round to promoting it we’d wanted to get our advert on digital screens. The process was arduous, slow and offered no means of creativity – the whole industry seemed outdated. We created Flux initially to allow screen time to be booked out very easily through an online portal. We soon evolved the idea to allow Flux to make data-driven decisions. This meant, unlike most DOOH screens which have to be booked out in 2 week slots and played in a loop, Flux screens can react to their environment and advertisers can spend their budget more intelligently. Why advertise barbecues when it’s pouring down with rain? With Flux, for example, Uber could advertise on the London Underground when there are delays: “There are major delays on the Northern Line. Your personal chauffeur is only X minutes away.” Flux can react to any data source meaning brands and agencies can truly express creativity while getting value for money for their campaigns.



Explain your business model

We have two sides to our business, Flux Core, our campaign management system which is designed for Digital-out-of-Home screen owners – the likes of ClearChannel and JCDecaux. Flux Core is software-as-a-service (SAAS): any screen owner can license our technology to use with their screens for a small monthly fee. We also offer Flux Live, which is a service we offer to host an advert with real-time data embedded within it, this is targeted more towards the brands and agencies who want to deliver more innovative campaigns. These are quoted per project based upon the complexity of the campaign.


What’s been the single biggest highlight for your business?

Seeing our Flux sting for the first time in big lights after securing the deal.


What was it that about Northern Stars that encouraged you to engage with them?

I attended the Newcastle pitch event where I saw several other Campus North residents pitching and thought I’d like to give it a go!



Has there been any businesses or entrepreneurs that have inspired you?

Any business that has a really simple offering but awesome tech behind it. Google Search, for instance.


What does success look like for your company?

When Flux is the market leader in OOH software!


Want to learn more about Flux Media?





Written & edited by Noel Peatfield, copywriter specialising in tech. Based in Manchester (UK)
twitter: @noelpeatfield