On this episode of OOH Insider, Adam Malone, Co-Founder & President of Screenverse, shares his knowledge on industry disruption and building a startup.
Screenverse is a specialized provider of ad management and monetization for digital screen owners. They maximize revenue through direct, programmatic, and systematic direct sales channels.
Special thanks to OneScreen.so for making this show possible. Check out OneScreen.ai and learn How to Beat Facebook with Billboards at www.onescreen.ai
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Welcome to out-of-home insider today's guest is Adam Malone. Co-founder and president of screen verse, a specialized provider of ad management and monetization for digital screen owners. We talk all about how he got his start in the early days of do media. What lessons that taught him and how that's translated into success for screen verse, despite being launched at the beginning of a pandemic, we talk about the industry at large lessons of living startup life and what the future may look like for out of home.
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Without further ado. Let's go welcome everybody to the out-of-home insider show, a podcast like no other hosted by the one and only Tim Rowe.
You ready to have some knowledge dropped on. You went to be entertained because nothing is more valuable than food for your brain. So sit back, relax. We're about to dive in as the best industry podcast is the bathroom again at a Malone screen versus here. Thanks so much for being here. Good morning. Good morning, wherever you are in the world.
Good morning. Out of a woman's daughter. Uh, wherever you are in the world, whatever time you are consuming this it's a, it's a bright, shiny fall morning here and Adam alone screen verse. There's been a lot of stuff going on in the last year in the screen. Verse one, I'm excited to dive into it. Um, but the place I always like to start with with guests, especially first-time guests is, is the origin story.
How'd you get into this crazy game of. It's a good question. So I would say that, you know, first and foremost, I got into, I got hit by the entrepreneurship bug. So it was really, it was really that it's, that, you know, entrepreneurship is kind of the cornerstone of my career. My life, really, since I was 16, 17, I, I knew I wanted to build a business and went to college at Ohio state and, uh, got plugged into the kind of entrepreneurial ecosystem.
And found a mentor who was sort of the big VC in town. And, um, he had invested in this company called do media. And it was very young. There were only a couple people there, but I knew the people that were there were super smart. And I knew that they had a really extraordinary vision for the company. And, uh, and this guy, rich Lanka, who is my mentor even to this day, was like, Hey man, You know, I know you're planning on doing this other thing.
I know you're planning on it was general electric aviation actually is where I was supposed to go out of school. And he's like, don't do that no more for me. I'll teach you how to build businesses, you know? And when you're ready, I'll support you when you want to start your own business. So it was kind of that that got me into, um, into do media.
And then once I got into do media, I was one of the first employees there. I just kind of fell in love with the, with the industry. You know, at the first couple of years of do media, we're just calling, you know, vendors, media owners, all over the country, talking to them, listening to them, trying to get them to sign up, list their inventory in the platform and build the database.
So I had a, a real, real chance to meet, you know, not just the big guys. You know, all of the small operators in Indiana and Kansas and in Oklahoma, these, these, you know, real cool third, fourth generation businesses that, um, know were really generous with their time were really, um, you know, polite and supportive.
And I just kind of fell in love with it. And so I've built my career 12 years now, and it was a little bit of an accident getting in, but, um, But yeah, I feel very welcomed in the industry and very happy that I ended up. Yeah, no, for sure. We're obviously happy to have you 12 years ago building do media certainly ahead of its time.
Um, what was it like being an innovator and a disruptor in a, in a space where at the time innovation and disruption was probably very outside the realm of, of daily operations for out of home as an India. Uh, it wasn't, it wasn't. I think that there were, you know, kind of challengers to that that came in with a lot of bravado and the big vision and saw that there are elements of this industry that make it feel like it's right for disruption.
So the fact that there's fragmented inventory all throughout the country, I mean, that still remains to this day. There's thousands of operators. There's thousands of, I mean, just understanding who has all the billboards in Topeka, Kansas, this is a difficult thing. Especially for somebody that's sitting in a, you know, on a planning team in New York city or in LA, that information is not readily available, you know?
And so simple things like that would, would, would kind of lead companies like do media to, to believe that there's a huge opportunity to bring that information together and sort of build a system on top of that data. Um, and I still think that there. I feel still think that's a problem worth solving. I think that automation and, and utilize, you know, building tools for planning and buying and also selling that there's a lot of space for innovation even today.
Um, I really respect, you know, the companies that have come along since do media launched. I don't always like that. They say they were the first or the biggest of the best or things like that, but we did that shit. So it's like, you know, you forgive somebody for doing that. But when we got started, It was really marketplaces were big, you know, so I, I joined in 2009.
It started, you know, sort of the year before. And the idea was, you know, a lot of these industries were doing these online marketplaces and kind of consolidating in these platforms for, you know, buying and selling in the, the, the technologist that ended up building do media had built a natural gas marketplace that was very successful.
Done, you know, four and a half billion dollars in transactions. I mean, serious tech and serious success. And, um, and so when the venture capitalists in Columbus, Ohio C to do media, they were like, okay, this is we're going to take this type of, you know, software and this type of system. You know, basically, and try to organize this fragmented out of home market and make it easier for, you know, buyers to buy in the second and third tier markets, or, you know, not just from the Lamar's of the world, but you know, there's four or five or six of these players.
And it's really hard if you're using spreadsheets, you know, to really evaluate. You know, six companies in each market, if you're doing a multi-market campaign. So that's just, I mean, that's just a real issue in, in persist to this day. Um, and again, it's definitely worth solving when we came to market, I think our big challenge, our big issue, and I want innovators in this space to kind of hear this clearly, like don't just talk to yourself and convince yourself and your, and your colleagues that this is a major problem.
And this is the feature set that's going to get it solved. You know, that's a recipe for waste in a couple years and a lot of money. Um, you know, really go talk to the industry and ask questions. I think when you raise $15 million or $10 million upfront, and you have this brand vision for what the industry needs, you know, you can get caught up a little bit in, in going in one direction.
And it's really hard to get. If you go too far. So I think one of the challenges that we faced to do media was too much money and too much belief in what our vision was and not enough humility and not enough. Like, Hey guys, if we built this thing, would you use it? Or is this really a challenge for you?
You know, like we always thought local advertisers, you know, it's very, excuse me. We always thought that, you know, second and third tier, uh, billboard companies and digital. Would would want to be bought by Allstate and Samsung and Coca-Cola and they're like, no, man, we're good. We got this local sales team.
We got this thing. This is an annuity, an annuity business for us. That just turns out no predictable cash. We don't need people in LA. You know, calling on these agencies, we don't need us like black, you know, like bad, we're going to just ask some questions we would have really. And then the other thing, and maybe I'm taking this, you know, to too many different tangents, but you know, we suffered from, this is the other end of listening to customers and asking what they want, you know, You know, we would go to, uh, we would go to a potential agency partner, somebody that we're trying to sell a SAS product to, or, and, you know, we'd say, Hey, do you want to buy this planning tools buying tool?
And they go, yeah, but can it do this? Can it do that? Can it do this? Can they export into PowerPoint? With our companies, you know, colors and, and fonts and things like that. And we're like, no, and they're like, okay, well the answer is no. And so what we did is we just built all that stuff and we just like, so we, we ended up with this massive, huge product with like 85 teachers and some of them really good and some of them just not very good.
But there's this huge amalgam and, and it was really so that we could answer those questions in a pitch. Hey, does it? Yes, it does. Hey, does it? Yes, it does. Hey, does it? Yes, it does. And at the end of the day, when you get the, yes, it's like, okay, now let's train you on how to use it. And they really just use five things out of 85.
And you're like, what the heck did we do all that building for like now we've got this big bloated product and we got this, you know, we got this whole thing. So I think what I learned more than anything in those 10 years of do media was, you know, The industry is not one thing. If there's a thousand different personalities, there's a thousand different stories, you know, don't assume everyone wants the same stuff for their businesses.
Number one, number two, when you're building an enterprise software tool, that's meant to serve an industry, you know, build a few things based on the market feedback, put it out in the market, see what people are actually using and what they. And what they're willing to pay for it. Don't just build and build and build until, until you get a major.
Yes. Just build some things, get it out there and see if that mapping tool really, you know, see if people log in every day, you know what I mean? Licensed. They never use it there. You know, they don't use it all the time or planning tool. It's like you build a planning tool and nobody uses it. Well, you know, maybe that's not where you need to go.
Um, so hopefully that applies to a lot of people's businesses as they come in and serve the space. You know, listen, pay your dues, respect the industry too. I think that's a big thing that not just me, but other people that enter into this space and a lot of different industries, it's like, you know, especially if you, if you see an opportunity to disrupt quote unquote, um, You know, you have this, this mentality that something is wrong here.
I need you to fit and I need to fix it rather than this foundation is solid and there's room to grow on top of it. That mindset is, is everything. And I think this industry in particular, because it's so tight knit, um, and proud and for good reason, you know, if you come in with that mindset to say, Hey, Yeah, but can we, can we access the new dollars?
Can we, you know, with, with one screen, I love like, can we, can we light up middle market advertisers, performance advertisers, like there's a lot of money out there. If we can make ourselves and prove the value, uh, to those types of advertisers, you could unlock a billion dollars in new spend. And that's, you know, I think that's the way to approach the market for the innovators of today.
And I wish we w we wasted a couple of years of do media, having the wrong line. Um, and solving a problem, we thought was the right problem. Now we did ultimately pivot and listen and start to build products and start to see what people actually liked and use. Um, and that really improved the business. And I'm, I'm still, uh, you know, a small owner of that business.
I still. You know, I'm a user of their software. I, I subscribed to their stuff. Um, and I wish them well. And like I said, I think it's a problem. We're solving, bringing this industry into, you know, organizing it into a database, having planning and buying tools, um, sitting on top of that, I think is, is the right problem to solve.
And then the other thing is bringing in local and middle-market advertisers and giving them a good entry point. That's digital, I think is really smart. I think we can just rewind the first 12, 13 minutes of this. It's a, it's a master's class on what to do what not to do. And, and, and, and yeah, especially for anybody that's listening to this, that's saying, Hey, I see something that's broken.
Um, understanding, do the research. It might be uncomfortable to ask your end user, what is the thing you want, because it might directly conflict with the thing you think they need, but being a good listener and to your point, Yeah. Like, like watching that, watching that, uh, you know, kind of feature feature creep on, uh, on the scope of the product, really understanding what is it that, that the end user is trying to solve?
You know, maybe they were asking for a logo and colors, but really what they wanted was a branded look and feel. Okay. Is there a different way to do, to do that? I think that's, that's incredible insight. And, uh, and thank you for sharing that. Do media, you get into out of home, you learn a ton along the way.
We've got the entrepreneurship bug and then a pandemic hits and you decide to start a company. Yeah. So the, the origin story for screen versus is really a story about partnership and timing. Um, you know, partnership with my co-founder Dave Weinfeld, who, you know, I like to say we grew up separately together in this industry.
Um, you know, back in 2011, I think it was, uh, you know, I was the director of emerging media, I think is do media at the time. And I was really focused on getting mobile and social companies to, to be in the platform and allow these types of extensions. And in the types of buying that was happening there.
Um, and I don't know if you remember, like millennial media in Moby. Um, oh, I have no idea.
yeah, it was, well, there were these companies that were. You know, sort of ad networks and mobile. And then there were a couple of them that were really saw the value of, you know, Hey, there's all this out of home media, that's out there. That's top of the funnel. That's, that's driving awareness. It's, it's hard to miss, um, and actually sort of welcomed, you know, that's the funny thing about out of home is no one has.
No, it's not creepy. I, you know, I didn't say something to you and then saw a billboard for it the next totally, totally. And maybe that will happen one day, but, uh, but right now it's like, it's not invasive and it's enjoyable to, to consume this stuff. And so, you know, a lot of these mobile companies were like, okay, how do we take that first big screen experience and take it into a second screen experience where you.
Have these landing pages and have these experiences and measure it and introduce it into the middle of middle of the funnel, things like that. So even back in 2011, that was really the cutting edge of what we were all talking about. And so I went to the digital signage expo in Vegas, the four day, four day thing.
I was the only person from do media there. I knew nobody, nobody in the industry. I don't know if I'd been to Vegas before. I just, I was there. And, you know, I'm eager, I'm in my early twenties and I'm like, you know, I'm showing up for the, for the, for the coffee, you know, coffee and keynote at 7:00 AM, baby.
I'm so proud of that Lander and my padfolio, it taken those. We still have that portfolio. Um, and so I'm there just learning, just learning, just learning. And there's these breakout sessions that are around. You know, for the, for the OGs in this space, the solo Mo social, local, mobile, this whole thing.
That's what we're,
it's really just so silly, but it's social local mobile. So it's, it's really about thinking about how you can have these out-of-home activations that drive to a social expense. So like tweaked to a screen or things like that, um, or use this hashtag and talk about the brand or whatever the initiative, um, you know, mobile, obviously with QR at the time they were talking about NFC is only a couple of years away.
It's still maybe a couple of years. Um, but that's kind of what it was about in Belleville. Obviously it's the second screen and it's really the first screen now for, for everyone. But, um, but that was it. That was the, kind of like how we talked about this type of these types of campaigns and this type of innovation.
And so I, you know, I didn't know anybody I'm there to learn. I'm there to evangelize, do media, get people to sign up in the platform, et cetera. And you know, so I'm just, I'm just consuming. I'm meeting cool people, I'm listening. I'm, I'm trying my best. And uh, and there's this guy that he shows up and like every one of these sessions is big tall guy, dark hair, and he's asking real smart questions.
And, um, and so, you know, I kind of noticed them in day one day, one it's it's, you know, everyone goes off to dinner at least. There's like all the big companies are hosting these dinners. There's all, it's like the insider billionaire boys club, you know, where if you're sitting outside it, you know, at seven o'clock and all the contents done and you're like, well, where'd everybody go?
You know? So it's like, you know, room service in my I'm just depressed, you know, going to bed early, like lonely. Yeah. It's super lonely. And it's everyone who's out there as new, like reach out, man. I got you. I'll meet with you. I'll have lunch. I'll call you around. It's a lonely thing out there. So anyway, day two comes around and David's still in these like breakouts and it's like 30 people in these sessions.
Um, and I'm seeing him and he's, you know, he's, you know, so maybe I sit next to him or something. We have, we have lunch together. And that night we had dinner and I, I remember this forever. We ended up smoking stogies on the strip. It might've been just the two of us, but maybe one or two other people were there.
And I remember just in that moment being like, all right, I'm good. I got one friend, you know, I, I'm fine now. I'm not depressed anymore. He's what I needed. And, and so he, you know, I've always had that, that type of relationship with them. And so we grew up separately together in the industry for a bunch of years.
In January of 2020, um, I was actually at Wilkins, so I was at a media buying agency, a specialist agency, you know, I can't say enough good things about them and John salami and those guys, me, I learned so much. I wish I would've had that experience at Wilkins, by the way, you know, seeing the day-to-day grind of being a, uh, you know, a client director and being a buyer, being a.
You know, what kind of data they actually use? What sort of, what, how what's the business model actually look like and how does it work? Um, by to have that before do media sort of any way, better, way better. Um, but anyway, I digress. So January of 2020 David calls. He benefits are the last two and a half years.
He built a really good business there. On the supply side, he was their global supply side, head of sales and built a good team. They built a great product. They had a lot of SAS revenue coming in and it was really good. And, um, but he saw this little hole in the market. He saw this opportunity, you know, these networks were plugging into Vistar.
And just by virtue of having 3,500 screens in a group and groceries and grocery stores, or 800 in convenience stores or whatever, it was some, a hundred pieces of digital, uh, you know, urban panels or street street furniture they'd plug in and they'd make some decent money in the exchange, you know, and the question that sort of founding question for the idea for him, Well, what would happen if there was a team of people managing this stuff every day and really building up these media businesses and making sales for people and not just listed on the exchange and say, it's four bucks and let it go.
But read the data, communicate to the, to the DSPs, to the buyers, to the clients and say, what are you guys looking to accomplish? You know, can we carve up our inventory in such a way that. It's actually going to perform a lot better for you, be more efficient for you. And, and we create PMPs and things like that.
So, you know, his question was, you know, how much more media value would there be in these networks? And then how many of these networks are there out there that might need this? So, same thing I'm talking about that do media didn't do well or whatever. A lot of us didn't do, haven't done well. No. He started asking, Hey guys, if I were to spin out and start this kind of services business, What'd you hire me?
What would you pay? What sort of margins are in there? And so he had done some of those, you know, he had validated the idea a little bit by the time he called me. And when he called me, frankly, I was just, I love to hear from him. I love to, you know, talk with them. I'd love to, I love it. Um, I'm open to it with anybody, uh, strategize.
I just, I feed off the passion and the ideas and things and. And so he had a lot of, you know, I could tell he really had something here. Um, but at the time I was, you know, I was building a book within, within Wilkins and, um, had an opportunity to make a lot of money and things like that. Not going to lie, but, but, um, But when he started talking about the idea, I was like, I need to be involved either.
I'm going to advise I'm going to invest. Um, you know, maybe be a customer, uh, you know, I'm going to be involved somehow. I have to. It's a really good idea. What was a really good idea in January. And he kept talking to me and then, you know, bless his heart and not in the Southern way. Like bless his heart.
He drove from. You know, just outside of New York city drove down to DC right before the pandemic early March drove down, met me at a coffee shop, spent a couple of hours really talking me through, Hey, this is not just a really good idea. This is a great idea. And, and now's the time and let's, let's do it.
And that's really when I was like, okay, you know, the partnership is there. One thing I know about entrepreneurs is like, if you get a re a bunch of really talented people together and you point them in a direction, You know, if they're the type that's going to knock down the walls, like it's, they're going to be successful.
Right. They're going to be in, I just had that understanding of David and, and I'm like, oh man, I would leave. I would follow this guy. And, and um, you know, I'm not a big, I don't love being, you know, I don't love bosses. You know what I mean? I don't like being mad. I'm not a very good manager either, but, um, yeah, but, but with David it's like, man, I could be your partner for sure.
And then, you know, so when I'm still at Wilkins and I'm still, and then when the pandemic really hit, you know, so, so back into March, he called me and it was like, okay, all right. So what's, what's happening now. What's happening now. Um, and I'm looking at my. Business. And I'm like, okay, that campaign in times square client called me, Hey, am I going to do a visit?
You know, am I going to do a traveling tourism thing in times square right now? No, no, no. We're definitely canceling that. You know what I mean? So all these things and these, these, these campaigns who, you know, in the commissions that I was going to buy this car and do this, this is like all that stuff's going away.
And, and I, you know, I remember kind of. Uh, I remember just, I think it's what we all felt. It was like, oh man, the underlying value of this inventory is going to go way down. Like people aren't going to be out. You know, like we have to really change. We've got to really adapt to this thing. This is, this is, this is like potentially, uh, not just disruptive, not just a challenge to like, this is, this is potentially catastrophic.
And, um, And so I was like, okay, well I could spend the next three months canceling everything I had done and then trying to sell pizza box ads. And, you know, you know, like, like, uh, you know, the box ad, by the way, there's only a couple of things that were like really working, you know, early pandemic that was like, everyone's terrible.
You know, everyone was talking about, okay, where are people going to be? And what's the, what's the thing we can actually. And, uh, so I'm like, this is going to be, this is going to, there's going to be terrible. Um, and then David called me just at the right time. He's like, you know, Hey, I think, I think this is the tie.
I think we just need to do it. And, and we just had kind of a strategic, okay. The physics of our business. I talk about this a lot, but the physics of our business are can we get really high quality inventory? Can we get the sales rights to inventory? That makes sense. Th that is delivering audiences that is in a well set up.
So we can run campaigns across hundreds of thousands of locations, easily from a centralized platform. Can we get really great inventory? Can we get really talented people? Um, and then can we utilize the, the data sets and the tool sets these emerging data sets and tool sets, including programmatic, you know, to really effectively sell this stuff.
So we kind of asked ourselves the question of, is it going to be easier or harder to get quality inventory right now? Easier everyone's fired. Everyone's furloughed, everyone's freaked out there's industry. You know, it's like people don't want to have in-house sales, fire sale. Yeah. I mean, it was just like drool, just like drastic change people.
You know, we got incredible people in the early, the first, you know, for six months we got incredible people because. They're all where I was, which is like, oh shit, I'm just trying to keep this from falling completely apart, you know, and, and stressed out. And you're just worried about everything. Worried about your family, your health, your business, everything.
So when we decided to start the business, you know, we said, it's, you know, this timing, actually, it's going to help us do this. It's going to help us do this. It's going to drive programmatic that in the future of these systems, into the present a lot faster. And so it was like, okay, this is the, these are the core three.
Can we get off some inventory, can we get great people? And then, and then are these tools and platforms going to continue to grow and become dynamic. Um, and so when we saw that, that it was like, this was a very good idea before. It's a great idea. Now it was like, go so left Wilkins, you know, and the, and the way I look at it, David and I both went, yeah, he had a great job at this star is doing awesome work yet.
A brilliant team, still an awesome team. We went to zero together and said, all right, only one way to go, baby. You know, and, and just, we we've signed a couple of early, early partners that were in the central businesses and we brought that to market. Hey, we've got, you know, these 27 inch kiosk screens that are in Kroger, seven 11, you know, these essential businesses and what we did to.
We invested in datasets that were four days old, not four years old, four days old. I mean, that was a big check to write 30 grand, 40 grand to get that kind of data. But we could go to, to, to, uh, buyers and say, guys, I know you just canceled everything. I know you've just paused, but if you want to be where the audiences are, I can show you, look, here's the dip, right?
Here's the March, April. And here's where it's coming and we're 8% lower than where we were before. And what we always promised is I'm not going to charge you as if this is 2019. You know, this is, this is 2020, and this is what the audiences are. And I'm going to charge you a reasonable CPM for that. But the end part is going to be real.
The end part is. The number of impressions, the number of people is going to be real George. It's not that, not that the, the, let me like a pencil and a, we'll just scribble a number up here and estimate impressions I shop, I was using from before. Like, like it's just not the same. And you know, that's a little bit, I think the knock on geo path in that time is they just, for a lot of different reasons that a lot of different pressures and it's probably not their fault, but they didn't just.
Here's what it is, guys. We're not going to give you aggregated, you know, 200 day old, uh, impressions. We're going to, we're going to do it. We're going to do it weekly. And it's gonna, it's gonna look shitty for awhile guys, but you got to sell something that's real. You know, you're gonna have a lot of pissed off people that they didn't perform and, and, and good luck getting that next deal.
There was a conversation that, that, uh, Kim Frank now, uh, acting president president about a year ago. Um, and we talked about that, you know, the delay, and so many people were looking for this data and, and screen verse, you start out as an opportunity, the way that you described it at you really reminded me of a company called DoubleClick.
Google bought in 2009 and then us that timeframe, right. You know, digital online has grown 435%, but why did Google buy double click? They had access to premium inventory. They had analytics, they could show what people were getting for it. And they had really talented people and built a great company. So what I'm saying, what I'm saying is for all of the same reasons and, and it, and it makes sense why, and, you know, to your point about, about timing, Here's your here's.
The other fun fact is 42% of startups that succeed. It's based on timing. It's just based on timing. It's, you know, it's a, it's a good idea. It's great execution. It's the right people, but it's timing so glad you said that. I think that was a bill gross study. I think he gave us around that. And I'm so glad that you call that because I think about that every week, every.
Cause cause it was, it bites both ways. Right? You can have a great product, you can have a great team. You can have a great idea. You can have to find even you have the capital and you could be early, um, or heaven forbid you're late. And you're not able to really challenge that, that, that sort of more, more mature company, but you're absolutely right.
And it was, I, and I talked about that with, you know, some of our early investors too. I'm like, This is what, you know, 42% of startups that succeed it's it's, you know, can, can be attributed to the time that the right timing in the market. Um, and without a home in particular, you know, there's not like paradigm shifting technology changes, paradigm shifting anything that happens all at once.
It's like very gradual. The digitization of inventory has been 10, 15 years in the making, right. And so there's not that sort of weird tectonic event that shakes it up and creates this opportunity for companies to come in and say, all right, it's different now. And I'm going to leave. Um, and you know, and, and I come at that, you know, that statement in a very humble place, like I want to leave it, you know, and, and, and I know the only chance I have to truly kind of lead that charge of, of bringing these new networks to market and being programmatic first and utilizing systems like immediate ad click, et cetera, really making sure that data is great.
And at the end of it, you know, I have this, this. This thing I've really been working on, on, you know, with the team is, is we want to be a company that creates these. I call it high fidelity integrations with all the buying systems and you know, that's going to require a lot of tech. It's going to require a lot of data.
It's going to require a lot of nerds, you know, that are going to just be happy to spend 10, 12 hours in a spreadsheet all day to make sure the data is. And that's not me. I can't do that. I'm, you know, I've got that add thing where I'm like, I want to be with people. I want to be talking, I want to be doing deals.
I want to be thinking about, you know, culture, but, but man, I need to build that around. And so we have our last three hires have all been in ops and it's exactly for, you know, just seeing that, you know, the new. Out of home sales business is going to be driven by tech data, data scientists, ops people, nerds, you know, in the best possible sense of the word these guys that's, that's it, you know, there's an old adage about out of home that I love.
And I learned it early on when I was calling on these companies all over the country. Do you media, um, you know, billboard businesses, our construction businesses. With a sales team, you know, cause if you're out there, you're fixing signs, you're stretching vinyls. I mean, it's you got, you got cranes, you got pickers.
You've got, I mean, it's, uh, you, you go to some of these places, it's a big warehouse or a barn in a little office, you know, and it's not in Madison, you know what I mean? And so I think that's, I think that's the business that we're building. It's Greenberg. It's not a, you know, it's not a construction business, but it's a, it's a data and technology and operations business with a sales team with hopefully a marketing team, you know, first plug in the day, correct?
Yeah. Yeah. Come back, come back to the plug. Yeah. I was going to say in case there's anybody listening T you've grown. So, so starting this. In the beginning of a pandemic, Dave, just say, you know what now is our, now's our time. Now's our time. Right? Every, everyone has been slowed down to the same speed, whether you're the biggest or the smallest or the newest, or the oldest, everyone is being forced, this kind of, uh, artificial, this synthesized.
On all of society slows everyone down, give us our screen versus an opera. I grew up with the car business, um, and now a year and a half later, we had such a great conversation the other day about where your focus is now in on some of the more you're able to step back and work on the business a little bit more in that structure operationally.
So talk to me about maybe that, just some of the, some of the key differences of how you're building screen versus based off of the experience that you gained over the, you know, over, over a decade in the industry being exposed to multiple different types of business models, how are you building the team at screen verse today?
And how do you see that playing out for the long-term growth of the company? Yeah, I think, you know, one of the things that I, I believe strongly.
Everybody, everybody, um, it needs to understand what their north star is in their career and in their life. Right? Some people talk about it being, you know, Simon to the next sort of, what's your find your, why? What's your why? And, you know, I just, for, uh, for the longest time I've been sort of studying and trying to figure out where do I.
What am I personally motivated by? What's my what's in my heart. What kind of book company do I want to be a part of? Where do I want to spend my time? What kind of family do I want to build? Um, and I use words like that. That's how I know sort of I'm an entrepreneur too, is I use, create and build a lot in the stuff I choose to do is that's, that's my mentality.
And so I'm like, okay, I want to build a business. And I want to build a culture where. And I know it's not a vote to say it's a family and things like that, but no, I want to understand everybody and I want to understand their motivation. What's in their heart, what their vision for their own lives are.
And then my job at scale, you know, eventually if I'm not, you know, I still make sales. I still, you know, account manage. I still have to do the financials and run the numbers and try to get investors. But eventually, I just want to know everybody in the company. I want to just sort of make sure that everyone is aligned towards what their north star is and, and what that means is saying yes to people that don't necessarily have the skillset, but they have the, they have the mentality, the mindset that the goals that align with.
We can teach them the skills. Right. And then conversely, if somebody is coming with 10 years of experience in programmatic and all these different things, but they don't have that, that religion, the vision, they don't understand what we're trying to do and they're not aligned. Then that's a no, it's gotta be a no, I firmly believe.
As we're building this business, it's like, okay, cool. You spent 15 years at the intersection or I don't think they existed for, you know, tightened them. You know what I mean? You spent all these all this time, but like what's in, you know, what are you all about? Where do you want to go? Where do you see this industry and what makes you excited about it?
And, you know, so it, you know, I think as I, as we continue to build this, this sort of team around David and me, and we've done a heck of a job, I mean, Sudan. Absolute star. I mean, she is just whip this into shape in so many different ways. And Victor germane runs our sales and, uh, high core and screen vision and then, you know, touch tunes and they have just been, you know, incredible voices in the room and it helped us in accelerated our, our path.
Um, and then we brought in Jasmine and Laura, uh, to run our ops team and they have just upgraded, you know, so much of, of our, um, And we've been kind of just building through people and building through people that, that, you know, are personally aligned with where we're going. And, and I think as, as we continue to scale and as we continue to get, hopefully achieve some more success.
I just really hope that we all continue to, to value that the most, you know? Um, and that'll be my, hopefully that'll be my, my job is I, I will be keeper of the culture and I'll be keeper of the team. You know, we making sure that people are living their best lives in the business in and out. If I can. Um, but I like doing the other stuff too, and we still need it.
We're only 13. We'll be maybe 20 by the beginning of next year. So we're not really able to totally specialize yet, you know? Um, but I think about it and, and, and that's the kind of work that, um, you know, when my feet hit the floor every day, I'm like, let's go, let's go, let's go. Let's, let's help these people.
Let's help these, these let's build this culture and let's help these people. Become the best versions of themselves in the most happy and productive because, you know, man, if you've ever, if you've ever languished in a company before, I mean, raise your hand. If you've been like, man, this year sucks. Like now, you know, and, and.
Um, yeah, I think we all have, and, and it's just because companies go in this way, my heart's this way, and like you just fake it, you're faking it. You're over here, you're faking it. And maybe you're talented enough that you're faking. It's fine. And you could still maybe make some money or you can still maybe get a promotion, but if you're faking it, stop faking it.
You know what I mean? And, and find a company that's more on your path and I promise you you'll thrive within that company. So, so my goal. You know, and it extends further than just our people too. I mean, I'm, we've got partners all over the country and they, and I, I love working with them and I, I want to understand their business goals and their personal goals and our bi-weekly updates and stuff.
I want them to be fine. I want them, if we're having, if we're doing well, I want them to be joyful. I want to bond. I want, you know, and all those things that, that I think this industry does really well, is genuinely love working for, you know, working with each other. And rooting for each other. In my, my goal for the Knossos is my group, you know, myself, my group, my partners, but then my industry, baby, like I want everyone to be in that to be thriving personally, professionally have these, these, these companies thrive.
So, um, So, yeah, I definitely didn't answer your question. I mean, I know that no, no, no, no, no, you did though. You did it, you did it in a way that I think is, is probably more relevant to the audience and, and to somebody listening to this, that if you're getting up every day, And doing what Adam described going and faking it.
There is 100% a place out there for you to land that you're not going to have to change anything about yourself. Um, you know, myself personally, starting the podcast, you know, being where I was, wasn't a whole lot of love or internal support for that. Now I work for a company that fully supports it and gives me the resources to go to it.
I didn't. Anything about who I am or how I approach the world or business or anything like that. I found the right place. And if you're someone like me who loves what you do and you love getting up every morning, thank a founder. So, uh, Greg, Sam entree, Adam folks like yourselves, you give, you give people an opportunity to love what they do and founders taking that risk.
Uh, you know, I, I think that sometimes we lose, we lose. Sight of what that is. If you love what you do. Thank thank a founder today. So, Adam, I think the answer to the question, really. So thank you. And, and, um, you know, this is a selfish note to other founders to. You know, being a founder has incredible perks, unbelievable perks.
You know, you can feel so much pride in and seeing people thrive and seeing the business tick up and oh shit, we're going to be profitable. You know, like, oh my gosh, we're going to be very pro. Like if you're, if you're blessed to have that experience, like enjoy it, man. Enjoy it because I tell you, um, you know, I have experiences in my early career where it was like we looked at, you know, as leadership team, we're looking around going.
You know, we'll make this, this month payroll, but without some changes, next month, it's going to be a real challenge, you know? And so your different salaries, you, heaven forbid you have to cut back on people. You have, you know, and, and these people have kids houses and mortgages responsibilities, like real things on you.
And it's like, so when you, when it goes well, when that, you know, when, and I won't, uh, I won't say your name, but man, we have somebody. Getting married, remodeled her house and all these things. And we gave her a raise and all this, and it was just like, oh, this is so good. This is so good. But, and that's a joy, right?
And that's something that you can share. The successes are easy to share, but when you're a founder and the things aren't going well, and you're stuck and you're depressed and you're gaining weight because you're not sleeping, you're not working out. You're not, you know, it's like, That's a really, that's a really tough place to be.
And so my message to other founders is, you know, find your network and it could be me. I'd be very happy to be, you know, a shoulder to cry on, or at least somebody that'll listen to you and, you know, find a, find a group of, of other founders in your, in your neighborhood or in your city, or just, you know, it's zoom, baby.
Like. Um, and let it out, man, bent and share your insomnia is it won't make you appear weak, a promise. Um, you know, we're all, we're all in it. There's all, it's a rollercoaster that people talk about. Startups is a roller coaster. It is man. And, uh, And I think, you know, developing that ecosystem and developing that community is very important.
And I'll raise my hand to say, I'm, I'm in it. I'm happy to listen. You know, I have some stories to share myself and, and what got me through and what picked me up and, and things like that. And I'm blessed that in 18 months at screen verse, it's been, you know, it's been pretty good. Um, but I know enough to know that six months from now, some shit's going to happen.
And I'm going to need, you know, and, and David, I know is that kind of guy that'll be there for me and I'm, I'm there for him. And, um, you know, and, and then hopefully we have enough in the culture of the team where we can be a little bit vulnerable and open and, and say, Hey guys, we're, you know, we're facing some tough, you know, some tough challenges here and I want to hear everyone's voices and what can we do together versus what happened in a lot of places when the pandemic hit was like, all right, we're going to go into.
The CFO CEO, we're going to go in the room and all right, we're going 30% off of everybody. We're, we're not paying for any of this stuff. We're not paying any of our creditors. Like this is what we're doing and present to the business. And at a certain point, it's hard to get everyone's voices, right? Like if you're got a hundred person of 200 or 500 person business, like it's hard.
We're at 13, you know, we'll be at 20, we'll be at 50. It'll be. I hope that we keep that kind of vulnerability and openness with one another. And I encourage the other founders out there. You know, if it's, if it's now reach out, reach out and let's have a conversation, let's get a three, four or five person founder team together and have a zoom and just, you know, sit sip on a bourbon and, and, and talk and let it out.
I think it's very, very, very important. Um, so I dunno why hijack this with that, but I just feel that in my heart that like, you know, We're a tight industry, you know, we, and we, it says, you know, we can act like this last 18 months has been easy. It has not been easy. Um, and so, you know, we gotta be there for each other.
And I'm excited about getting in person in, you know, in a couple of weeks at the DPAA event, digital signage week, and some of the things that are there. I can't wait to see everybody. Um, and I tell you what if, if everyone, you know, if I'm in a group and then how was your how's good bullshit. Tell me how it really, I think we're just gonna bring a bunch of bullshit cards.
So if you're hearing this and you're on the other side, you're not the founder. Um, but you're close to the founding circle. We're we're so fortunate now. Uh, my advisor Jeanne Hopkins has recently come on board at one screen and she gave me some advice early on, which was it's lonely at the. Be there for your founders, be B be available so that they can, you know, they're humans too, right?
They're, they're, they're people with feelings and lives and families and, and the challenges of building a business it's lonely at the top, uh, be available for your founders. Try to get, try to, you know, be a resource, not just on the business, but to them as human beings like this, we're in people, business, all the technology in the world can't replace the fact that we're in the people that have.
Yeah. And, and I would give, and I really appreciate that. And, and I would give advice too, because when I started at the media, I was on the client services team. I was the lowest person. There was, you know, I turned down 65 K a year to make 35 K a year. Um, and, but I knew this is, I just, I wanted the opportunity to be a part of something and build something from zero.
And, and, you know, to like, as you're thinking about career develop, It's a really good way. You know, I was a director in like two years, you know, and, uh, and that was a VP in like four or five years. And that was a part of that leadership team and owner of the business, like in my late twenties, um, I wasn't that good either, you know, like I was trying, but I wasn't that, but one of the things that I did well, uh, and I, and I think everyone can do is when shit got hard.
And when you're sitting around that conference table, everyone's looking at each other, the CEO or the chairman, or somebody comes up and says, Hey, here's what we're facing. I remember seeing half of the heads go down. Half of the heads go up, just gave me goosebumps. And I was one of those guys that I was looking around going, all right, let's go, let's go.
Let's go. I walked in, I walked into, I was making 40 grants, but the second year I walked into the CEO's office and I said, you know, they wanted to do these, these, uh, uh, Salary deferrals. And I go, I'm down to zero, down to zero. Now I was, you know, I, I could, I could afford to do that at that time. I was young and my parents were supporting me and.
I didn't have any outside responsibilities, so I could, you know, and some people can, some people can't, but whatever you can do at that time where it's like an opportunity to double down and really just assert yourself, I encourage you to do it. There's only a handful of those opportunities, really, you know, those, those, those earthquake moments where it's like, okay, how are people going to react to this?
Um, and I, and I think that. The first of all, it built trust and love and appreciation from the team with me. And it also made the I've sacrificed. Now, you know, I'm in, I'm in, this is, this is more than a job. This is more than an opportunity to learn or make some money. It was like, I'm, I'm committed now.
And I think, you know, that startups are a good place where you can progress really quickly. You're a VP at 26 you're VP at 28. You know, I, and I was graduating business school with some kids that were like, I'm going to Deloitte, I'm going to be a partner at 37 or 35. You know, I was like, oh, maybe if I really crush it, I'll be 35, not 37.
I'm like, okay, cool, man. That's not, I, you know, climb climbing. The corporate ladder was never something for me, but, but you know, so little companies, like one screen, little companies like screens, You know, there's an opportunity to, if you come in, if you sacrifice, if you commit to it, if you really kind of, you know, see a problem and say I'm going to solve it, here's what I need to do.
Here's my plan. I need three people. I need, you know, a $150,000 budget next year. And here's what I'm going to produce with it, man. You do that. You can get that. You can get that six months in four months in, you know, Um, and it's really tough to do that in bigger companies. Um, but what cuts is that, you know, 401k.
You know, there might be some long hours, some weekends works and skip dinners and not going to do all that when you didn't, you know, it's like she got to do it all. You got to design your own deck. Like I don't have a marketer yet. I don't have a team of my let alone. And so it's, it is, it cuts both ways, but, but see, that's kind of what I'm talking about with like the heart.
I want to understand people and what you're motivated by and what you're trying to do. Are you trying to build something and, and, and, and build a legacy and, and, and. You know, if you are then man, I will invest in you. I will push you. I will give you every possible opportunity to just crush it with your career.
And then if you leave great, man, it go, she'll start your own. Like that's my mentality. Yeah. Um, and so I appreciate you saying legacy. The founder stuff is yeah. Oh yeah. And, and the value of people, we all know this, like, you know, the value of networking, the value of relationships, value people. I mean, this industry is built on.
And that's, that's sturdy, that's 30 stuff. Um, you know, and, and, you know, w I w I won't give you this specific, but we, you know, there's so many, there are so many people who, you know, maybe they work at a competitor and you want to treat them bad, or you want to talk shit about 'em or whatever, but you respect it and you respect them.
And that was something that's something I needed to change for years. I hated every one of our competitors and that I've grown out of that. Thank goodness. Now I respect what everyone's trying to do, and it's funny. They can move from a competitor to a partner. And I was like, well, wait, why did I ever have animals?
It's just, it's just, um, so anyway, so you guys have a better sense. What drives me and the way I sort of think in the business I want to build, but I want to talk about any sort of tactical stuff, state of the state. I think, I think we're going to have to do a follow-up for, at the top of the hour already, which is crazy.
So what I'd love to do is to do a follow-up I'd love to do a follow-up deep dive, deep dive on the, on the tactics. I want to get into the pro addict versus. No, this is like, like to me, these conversations are so important because for the most part, they're not on the record anywhere else. And I'm so grateful to be able to, to, to, you know, have a platform where these stories can exist.
Right. This will live on forever. Um, and you'll have someday screen verse will be. 200 employees and new employees will be coming back to listen to this, you know, five, six years ago going, wow. Okay. This is like, I don't necessarily have direct contact with Adam, but this is the company I work for and I take it that seriously.
Um, so I would love to have a second conversation around some of the more strategic and tactical things. If you're down to do this again, all of our future partners and employees out there that are consuming this for the first time, five years ago. Um, call me on my bullshit. If I'm not paying attention to you, if I'm not listening, then I'm an asshole and I need to change.
So send me this clip. Send me this little clip. Yeah, exactly. Do you try to get your shit together? Well, speaking of hiring and growing the team, you plugged it there briefly, but, but, but call it out. You're growing the team and it can for a few specific roles who, yeah, right now we're hiring a sales director in Chicago.
Um, you know, somebody that can do local regional national programmatic. Uh, and so those are local comma, regional comma, national comma, programmatic, um, Yeah, we've got a lot of great inventory in Chicago, you know, we're dotted sort of all around, but not Chicago. So there's a real opportunity to, to own that market.
And really, you know, we've got a lot of really high quality inventory and it's a big fit for a lot of these brands and agencies that are there. So sales director in Chicago, you know, reach out email@example.com. Uh, we're hiring to biz dev, you know, sort of earlier folks and junior folks. They can do prospecting outreach, you know, sort of inside sales work.
So we're hiring two of those. Those can be remote anywhere. If you're looking for your start, you're looking to get into the business and figure out if you like this industry, it's a really good place to start. Uh, and then, you know, we're also hiring a VP level marketer, uh, to basically create our brand brand screen verse.
So. Um, so yeah, so thanks Tim for giving me a platform. That's the most important thing is, you know, this is a people business. It's a great opportunity. We've got a vibrant business. Um, and I, I really think that the future is bright and the universe is open. So. Help us build brand screen verse and build a really, really great company.
We can all be proud of. Uh they're they're all bad-ass opportunities. And that was firstname.lastname@example.org. Gracie media screen email@example.com. Send a resume, send a, an email. The team will get it and be in touch. If you're not connected with Adam on LinkedIn, I certainly suggest that you do that putting out.
All the time. Um, Adam, this has been awesome, man. I'm looking forward to our two. Let's do it. Let's do it. Absolutely. If you're, if you're hearing this, you got to subscribe, you got to follow, you got to share, do all those things so that you don't miss any of the great content coming out and especially so that you don't miss the follow-up conversation where we're going to break down programmatic versus direct guarantee versus PMP.
We're going to talk about the things that subscribe button, subscribe button. Adam. Thanks so much for being here. We'll see, I finally came to my senses. I finally got my hand up on the tinted Benz kid. I see the lenses with the dream and the drive, the possibilities endless print that send this all the way to Tokyo.
Take a trip down south van, a Mexico next snap Shanghai, the world-class trade show of course, class all the way, because that's how we call us the rockstar business. Man. Rocky shows. We handle business, man. We got our own future.