Dan Greenberg – Sharethrough 2 of 2

“Marry the problem not the solution.” Sharethrough provides advertisers a repeatable and scalable platform for distributing social video on the Web.

Matthew:
Kind of as a follow-up, what are some of the interesting growth metrics or statistics that you have seen with Sharethrough at this point?
Dan:
Sure, so we’re… we get paid by media companies. Companies like…
Matthew:
Primarily large brands.
Dan:
Yeah, large brands and their media agencies. So we work with companies like Nestle and Xbox and Microsoft and Sony but we get paid by their agencies (unintelligible – 00:00:36) and guys like that. I can tell you that in terms of our growth metric our primary growth metric with this company is revenue and campaigns and customers and it’s all been very positive over the past couple years. Like I said started the company in 2007, raised a round of money in 2008, I’d say we spent 2008 in kind of an existential who are we going to be, where is this company, what is that big problem that we want to wrap our arms around? That was the first year and the first year was a lot of exploration and a lot of whiteboards and a lot of big thinking. Year two was social video. We have product-market fit, we have a market that has a real problem, we have a product that starts to solve that problem, let’s go scale the team and the company around this problem. Let’s make the problem concrete. 2010, last year, was all about scale, we started the year I think with seven people, we’re up to twenty-five now. I think it tripled, almost quadrupled revenue from Q4 2009 to Q4 2010.
Matthew:
Congratulations. That’s awesome.
Dan:
Yeah, thank you. I think we doubled the campaign size, maybe even tripled from like $20, $30 thousand a campaign to I think $70 or $80 thousand a campaign now. Where our customers are really recognizing the value of what we’re doing, recognizing the value of the entire medium and investing significantly more inside the entire medium.
Matthew:
Wow, that’s a great story. So it sounds like almost that because you’ve been involved in online video for so long, with your various experiences, undergrad, Stanford, prior to now your hypothesis you’ve been able to test and confirm and there wasn’t… it sounds like you guys didn’t have to shift as much because you took a little bit more time organically to figure out what the problem was and devise a solution.
Dan:
Yeah, I mean…
Matthew:
So was there some sort of big aha! moment where you realized you needed to shift into something else?
Dan:
There was. So like I said when we started the company we had built in a whole bunch of Facebook applications and I’ll tell you they were generating more than $100,000 a month and to a startup that is a lot of real revenue.
Matthew:
Yes, it is.
Dan:
And that’s a lot of revenue to look at and sort of have to ignore. But we knew this company wasn’t going to be a Facebook application company. We knew the vision was much bigger and had to do with changing an ecosystem and creating an ecosystem, but for a moment maybe a year-and-a-half or two years ago we had a 12-person company, six of whom are working on Facebook, six of whom who are working on social video and Sharethrough, true story, we had to make a really hard line in the sand and make a hard pivot and say hey, this is distracting from this core vision of this company and we actually spun it into its own company.
Matthew:
I see.
Dan:
Made it into its own company said, “Hey,” to one of the third cofounders, “go run this part of it, figure out if you can turn this into a real thing of its own outside of the umbrella of Sharethrough and let Sharethrough truly focus on social video and advertising.” That was a pretty significant pivot for the company, a 12-person company turning into a six-person company overnight.
Matthew:
Right.
Dan:
Has you know a lot of positive and growth opportunities. It’s all about personal growth and wrapping your arms around, like I said before, the problem. Well we had two problems, all of a sudden now we had one singularly focused problem.
Matthew:
Excellent, and so you know this kind of speaks to some of the myths that lots of people have we think regarding entrepreneurs and launching startups. We think that entrepreneurs tend to make it appear… look that it’s easy to start something. And I think just from listening to you there are certainly some things that you do well that enables you to do that. So, so can you speak to that?
Dan:
The key is team. The key is all about bringing in the right people to the team. I talk about it like the first step of team building is building a bench, it’s going to be you and your lonely cofounder or you and your couple lonely cofounders, trying to devise a game, trying to devise which game you’re even in, trying to make the jerseys for your team, trying to just be the beginnings of the company. But the first step is build a bench, you know before you start hiring even employees, find advisors, find mentors, find investors, find anyone who is willing to give you their time. If they’re willing to give you their time and money, even more power to them, but most important is people that are willing to give you their time. When we started this company there was seven advisors who helped us breathe life into this company as a true business, not just as a project, or not just as a product, but as a business, people like Mike Maples who was our first investor.
Matthew:
I know Mike.
Dan:
Mike Maples is an awesome guy. I would pay him, but luckily we turned it around and he invested about a billion dollars to the company in 2008. But we would have paid him for his time, his experience, his advice, his guidance for the company was much more powerful than the money he gave us. Actually ended up not even using any of the funding we took until we you know finally put our pedal to the metal, our foot on the gas about a year ago.
Matthew:
What were some of the things you were looking for in a cofounder?
Dan:
Sure. I’d say somebody who shared my passion for creating something new and most importantly somebody who shares your values. I think that’s the most important thing, find somebody who shares like those core values that define who you are. This company, there is actually a sheet right behind you, I have a camera here to take a picture of it later, which is like the Sharethrough identity, the Sharethrough values, who are Sharethrough and one of the things that Sharethrough would be proud of if Sharethrough was an individual, I think the most important thing for our cofounder and our management team, and hell the entire company, is to share those core values, those personal values, those family values, those business values, that turn everybody into this you know singularly focused, fully functioning team. We have a very diverse team with lots of people and lots of backgrounds and tons of different experience, junior to senior. But the core thing for me is things like respect, and optimism, and action, those core values that make me who I am and make this team what it is today.
Matthew:
Excellent, I think we’ll end on that note. We very much appreciate you being here, we hope you’ll come back and be a guest at Founderly.com. For our audience for those who want to learn more about Sharethrough you can visit them at www.sharethrough.com. And really quick who’s your…
Dan:
This is our third cofounder, Jess.
Matthew:
Excellent.
Dan:
Employee number one and our biggest cheerleader.
Matthew:
Excellent, thanks a lot Dan.
Dan:
Thank you.

 
 

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