Thanks to Microsoft Ventures and Central Working for hosting us!
Rebecca Rachmany, CEO, Gangly Sister Productions: So, I’m Rebecca Rachmany, I’m the CEO of Gangly Sister, and I’m here with Rose, so why don’t you introduce yourself.
Rose Adkins, CEO, ScreenHits: Hi, my name is Rose. I’m from California originally, lived in New York and started a company called ScreenHits about a year and a half ago.
Rebecca: Great. So you’ve worked in big companies and you’ve done a couple of startups.
Rose: I have, actually. My father told me that if you want to work in a business, the best thing you can do is go work for people who you admire, learn as much as you can, find a problem in the industry that you work in, and solve it.
Rebecca: How did you just move to a new place and manage to get all those business connections? Especially because, I mean, you were in video production, and you were in the heart of where that happens, and now, oh well, I’m in London. It’s not known – I mean, it’s not Bollywood. It’s just London. How did you find the business people to connect to.
Rose: When I came here, I remember, like, day one, I went to my apartment I said “I can’t believe I just did this.” Day two, I just went to my office space in Devonshire square and I said, “OK, let me get this going.” And I just started going to different events. Like City Meets Tech, I started going to Digital Shoreditch events. I just started meeting with people, from law firms or accounting firms who said “Oh, you must meet our client,” or “You must do this.” I called up all my contacts in the US, and said “Can you introduce me to people?” Within the first, I think, 30-40 days, we already had interested angels, we had partners from Hollywood Reporter to E online coming on board, and so it was great. I think, my background’ in sales, so I just made my lead list and turned my leads into prospects and clients.
Rebecca: What’s an example of something you’ve failed at?
Rose: Figure skating, actually. This is not in business but this is, I love figure skating, I did it when I was younger. I quit in my mid-twenties. I loved it more than anything, wanted to go to the Olympics. And I believed at that time. If I wanted to do it bad enough, and I put in every effort, it would happen. And I was on the ice at 5 in the morning. I skated 10 days in a row and took a break. I had all the lessons. I worked so hard. I was mentally focused. And it didn’t work in the end. I didn’t win the Nationals. I didn’t go to the Olympics, after all these years of doing it. And all the money that was invested in it, and all the harm I did to my body, but it was the thing that shaped me, I think. And so I don’t look at it as a failure. I look at it as the most amazing experience in my life. But, I remember I thought, if I give everything to something, and work so hard, and all this money, and it doesn’t happen… I just don’t understand how life works! But it actually, all those things. I guess it was never really meant to be. But all those lessons that I learned, and the perseverance that I had, falling down and getting up literally, have helped me when I had the right project, and the right idea, to build something crazy amazing!
Rebecca: What’s something that you’ve tried and you would advise people not to try that.
Rose: One is that when you get your first round of funding, you get all excited, and you want to get everything set up and want to hire people and want to get the office. You just do all these thing and you actually don’t stop and think “Wait a minute. Why don’t I keep things very simple, very small and continue to grow organically first instead of just setting up the company overnight because you have all this funding. I think that was the biggest mistake. I think the most important thing is to just go out there and try to find a way to start selling your product and make money that way.
Rebecca: It’s amazing, because it’s not… you came here with no contacts, and, do you have any background in cloud computing or marketplaces or anything like that? Because that’s what you do.
Rose: Yeah, um, no, actually. My experience is actually on the buying and selling side. When we started doing this I said, “Great, you deal with technology. I will deal with getting the content and the business and the money.” But then when he wasn’t doing the technology, I found myself with all these content providers and clients and nowhere to put them because he wasn’t at the same speed as I was. So I had to all of a sudden educate myself in technology and learn about cloud, and learn about CDNs, and learn about, you know streaming, and learn about all these technologies.
Rebecca: So really, what is that thing that you need to start a startup. Because you don’t need connections, you don’t need to understand the technology, apparently. What do you need?
Rose: I think you have to have a passion. I think that you have to. A lot of people, I think, which I think is sad, just say, “I want to have a startup. And I want to have an exit. And I want to make a lot of money.” And I think that works for some people, but I don’t think that works for the majority of people. I don’t think that’s a way to start a business and to dedicate your life to something, which, believe me the first years are very painful if you don’t believe in it and you don’t love it. And I think as long as you are in an industry that you know very well, and you have seen problems in that industry and you have found a solution, and you’re passionate about it, that is all you need.
Rebecca: What if you had an extra hour today, what would you do with it.
Rose: I would probably sleep. So I mean that somebody might say “I would really go in and do this database thing.” No. I would really say, to be honest, I don’t want to have a mental breakdown. I don’t want to become stressed. There’s so much stuff to do when you have a startup. You can never do it all in a day. And I think it’s really important to just stop and take a breath and just relax.