Tell us about yourself?
Entrepreneur, acclaimed author and tech innovator, I build 21st century solutions for antiquated industries ripe for change. In my latest venture, The Desire Company, I’m continuing the trend of creating disruptive, tech-based Entertainment Marketing solutions.
A ‘bite-sized, shoppable Master Class’, The Desire Company gives consumers access to expert wisdom and advice to help them discover and learn practical, everyday skills and make more informed purchase decisions.
Desire Co’s use of video-led expert product reviews, how-to’s and classes, offers a new route to market for brands, transforming the way people discover and purchase the products used by the Pros.
Previously I built and grew his music licensing company to over 600 brand clients with $35M in revenue, earning the company recognition as one of Inc. Magazine’s “Fastest Growing Private Companies in America”.
Establishing a global community of over 20,000 independent artists, I created a new route for emerging music talent to gain exposure, funding and distribution.
High profile placements in TV commercials, shows, movies, gaming and live appearances including global stages like the 2012 London Olympics, 2014 Sochi Olympics and 2014 Brazil World Cup led to a strategic partnership with The Coca-Cola Company who ultimately purchased a stake in the company.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
The biggest misconception people have about startups is that you have to work a lot, never sleep, feel miserable – that’s just not sustainable, especially if you want to start several businesses in your lifetime and be successful and happy.
The idea of “be miserable now, so you can enjoy your life later” is an example of the wrong mindset to have when founding a startup.
It wasn’t an option since my wife and I are co-founders, so we needed to find a balance that didn’t require sacrificing our health and happy family life.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Communicating your value proposition is a consistent challenge for start-ups and, as the business evolves, it’s a moving target that needs to strategically evolve with it.
It would have benefitted us to have dedicated more time and resources to building our narrative and painting a clearer picture of the opportunity to effectively differentiate ourselves and build investor understanding.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, I’m completely obsessed with the idea of creation. So much of my inspiration has come from music and the creative process.
The idea of building a song and that talent. I couldn’t get my head around why one person could have a guitar with six strings and I could have the exact same guitar with the exact same six strings, but yet they were just so much better than everybody else…and a freestyle rapper has the same access to the english language that I have but they’re able to create these unbelievable stories so quickly and beautiful poetry.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
“Strong opinions held loosely” is a mantra that really works for me.
I have very clear, strong opinions about how my company should operate and what needs to be done, but I always challenge myself to be open to my teams’ opinions.
I truly believe that good ideas can come from anywhere in an organization and the key is to create an environment that allows for those ideas to surface.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
There are several external influences that have contributed to both the creation of the company and its exponential growth: — My wife and Co-Founder was the Group Director of Global PR for Coca-Cola.
During her time there she experienced celebrities who would represent the brand, but they weren’t actually consumers of the brand.
We both recognized a gap in the market when it came to authenticity and shoppers ability to get reliable product information. — The pandemic has accelerated ecommerce activity and led to a rise in returns which The Desire Company is poised to tackle. When people see our videos and buy the right products, they’re less likely to return them. — The FTC just announced that they are stepping in to combat the very problem we were built to solve — cracking down on fake reviews and misleading endorsements and sending notice of steep penalties to companies who do not comply. — Retailers and brands are looking to partner with actual people who can inform their shoppers and are less interested in just paying influencers to read from talking points.
Where do you see your business in five years?
What we’re seeing right now in the marketplace is all the stars aligning to support the need for what we do.
Authenticity and honesty in product reviews is increasingly important and frustratingly hard to find.
As shoppers become more savvy to the proliferation of misinformation, The Desire Company and our expert content will play a key role in their lives, being sought out by shoppers as the only review they need to make an informed purchase decision.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
Being able to effectively communicate our value proposition and build understanding of the vision and opportunity has been a challenge.
As a first mover in this space, we have struggled to differentiate our offering and have been turned down for investment purely because of a lack of comprehension on the part of potential investors.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
Being featured in Billboard Magazine’s “30 Under 30” list and Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine’s “Tech 50” list.
Awards include multiple Cannes Lions, LIA’s and an Emmy. I am also a best-selling author.
However, it was my greatest honor to represent Entrepreneurs Building Companies that Unite the World, when I was chosen to run with the Olympic Torch at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
Although it’s obviously important to be able to sell yourself and your ideas, it’s so much more powerful when you let your successes speak for themselves.
Having a reputation of being someone who is great to work for and with is something I strive to earn every day – and that speaks for itself.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
If you have the luxury of doing so, find investors and board members who are completely aligned with your company mission.
Our investors and a board are our biggest cheerleaders who also generously contribute their time.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
As my co-founder is my wife, so much of my personal and professional success are intertwined!
As a serial entrepreneur one thing I have learned is that it is as important, if not more so, to enjoy the journey while you are striving to reach the destination.
Obviously I hope that the future brings great prosperity and success. That The Desire Company achieves its mission to democratize expert wisdom for all.
ut more than anything I hope that we can all enjoy the journey to success as much as we will enjoy achieving it.