“Never Be Satisfied That Your Direction Is Right. Challenge Yourself” 5 Leadership Lessons with Gavin Goodvach of Blink
“Focus — It helps for leadership to dive the company in one clear direction. It’s a real driver of motivation. Yet, never be satisfied that your direction is right, challenge everything. Seems like a contradiction right? That’s why it’s tough.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Gavin Goodvach, the VP of Business Development at Blink, a company focused on making eSports interactive and personalized through the innovative use of AI. Previously, Gavin was responsible for creating and managing relationships with some of the largest media companies and brands in the world including, Universal, Warner Bros. Turner Media and Redbull. Gavin is a thought leader and experienced presenter and has been invited to appear on panels at CES, NAB and Digital Hollywood. Gavin is a member of the American Television Academy (EMMYS) since 2015.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I’m definitely on the older side of the startup world. I began working in Hollywood right as digital was just beginning to appear in production and post production. Art and technology was just beginning to break out and it fascinated me. Moving to Israel in 1995 I worked in film and TV and for 6 years in animation on the production and management side while keeping direct contact with the creative. Next was 3 years at AnyClip media where I experienced what it’s like when a startup hits the hockey stick growth, or inflection point and it was a wild ride. Three years ago I moved to Elastic Media which, I have to say it the best team I have ever worked with. We are now Blink an AI based platform that will change the way people experience eSports content. It’s great fun. I should also mention that I am a member of the US TV academy which means I vote for the Emmys. That’s fun too!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
We recently refocused the company which involved some painful changes. For me, having to call major media companies and tell them that we would not be following through on the deals we had in the pipeline was really tough. Especially given the effort it took to attract them in the first place. But it’s all for the best and we are launching ourselves full force into our new direction. Focus is paramount to an early stage company and we are 100% behind ours.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Just back from meeting top 10 investors in Silicon Valley. One of them surprised me when he said that when US companies talk to them about AI they assume they don’t know what they are talking about, when Israeli companies talk about AI they assume that we know. It’s a huge compliment. More than this though. We spent two years developing an AI platform that understands video at a semantic level. We did extensive testing and met folks from just about any vertical of content there is. When we decided on eSports we did so because we believe that not only is the market huge but that what we have can make a real difference. We make every gamer a hero — now that’s a real thing
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
Yes — We are focused on eSports which is just about as young, cool and dynamic as possible. It’s a business that generates over $100b of revenue a year and is challenging traditional sports in a very serious way. We are excited to be bringing an innovative solution to this market and all signs point to us having a really compelling product. Wish us luck!!
What advice would you give to other executives to help their employees to thrive?
1)Focus — It helps for leadership to dive the company in one clear direction. It’s a real driver of motivation.
2)Never be satisfied that your direction is right. Challenge everything. (Seems like a contradiction right? that’s why it’s tough)
3)Listen to everyone and then be decisive. Employees appreciate both
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
My Brother Adam. I think we all have a person behind us who we think is smarter and more experienced. Adam is my guy. He has done it all before and is a total bullshit filter. If an idea passes him, it’s good to go.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We have given equity in our company to an Israeli fund that donates to youth related charities (http://tmura.org/aboutus/)
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became VP” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
a) Work never ends. If you think there is time to relax in this job, think again.
b) It’s all about people and people are more complex than any technical problem. The day I knew that this was the place for me was when I met our CSO at an edit bay in the back of an small local school. He had to come out to meet me. As he approached through the rain with is baggy trousers, Kippa and tzittzi (orthodox jewish look), I it was love at first sight. If you locked me in a room for a month with these guys I’d be happy as a pig in a pen. I think this is the key.
c) Startups are not for the meek! There is no limit to the amount of people who will say no and there is no limit to the amount of folks who will criticize. You need commitment and focus and you need to realize that sleeping is an optional activity. BEWARE — Managing a startup can damage you health.
d) It’s a marathon not a sprint…. Actually a startup is a marathon sprint! You need to move at breakneck speed and you need to do it for ever. There is never enough time and never enough resources. Results are hard to show and investment is hard to get. Products take too long and Sales demands too much. It’s like juggling live cobras, without a flute.
e) It’s the best job you’ll ever have
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
You can learn from everybody. Really, everybody!!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
Sir Richard Branson