Skip has pioneered territory on the digital frontier for nearly 20 years. All told, he has brought a dozen new media models to market for startups and giants alike. As a college student, he started the first Super Bowl website, selling out sponsorships in two weeks. He raised more than $10 million to build the first educational network (ASPIN), founded top Southwest web development firm Rhino, and launched one of the country’s first broadband networks at Cox Communications. He ran and sold SimpleDevices, headed sales and business development for JiWire, and helped establish, Excite@Home. On the corporate side, Skip ran the Yahoo! Global Alliances organization, introducing several media innovations for the company’s top 50 accounts multi-million dollar accounts. Simply put, he’s always running something. When it’s not a company, it’s endurace races: more than 50 marathons, 10 Ironman Triathlons and too many adventure races to count.
Hey Skip, great to have you on YHP today!
First of all what is Martini Media?
Martini Media is the digital media and content platform for engaging the richest audience with the most money and influence online. With more than 1,000 publishers organized across multiple lifestyle and business verticals, Martini Media has helped the world's leading brands reach more than 90 million consumers across the globe that invest in their passions at work and play. Martini Media's full-service marketing capabilities encompass display, video, mobile, social and audience targeting to effectively engage the most valuable audience online at scale.
And so when did you come up with this idea and what were you doing at the time?
The more money an audience makes, the more digitally savvy they are. In addition, this affluent audience is projected to overtake other demographics to become the most engaged group on the web. In my mind, when a consumer group moves from the least to the most engaged, this provides a great business opportunity and Martini Media was created to take advantage of that opportunity.
Prior to Martini Media, I worked at a start-up company, JiWire, which connects advertisers to the mobile audience, using the world's largest location-based interactive media channel.
Had you started a company before and if so, what did you find was your biggest challenge when starting your first company?
I started my first company in college. The start-up I created, Rhino, focused on the movement from sports teams and engaging content to the web. Rhino still exists and is profitable. However, that start-up has the same challenge I face today, which is educating and proving to the marketplace that digital, whether it is in web development or in advertising in the case of Martini, is the right area to shift traditional dollars into.
What was been you're biggest challenge at Martini media and how did you overcome it?
The top challenge for Martini is finding the best talent who can devote a considerable amount of resources and effort to ensure that Martini Media not only achieves its goals but disrupts the status quo in B2B, B2C and the lifestyle space. Talent is required to innovate and that innovation is required to achieve market share.
You recently raised $13 million in venture capital, how will you use this to help Martini media grow?
We plan to use the capital to ensure our company can horizontally scale in the U.S. and in Europe, resulting in more products and revenue per head based on technology and product investments.
How did you fund the company initially?
Venrock allowed me to work inside of its incubator called “The Quarry” and take advantage of the existing resources Venrock provided, as well as the sister and brother companies that were born there.
What would be your tip for aspiring entrepreneurs?
You need to have pig-headed determination, persistence and discipline. Professionally, you need to make sure your company can answer the 4 T’s:
- Do you have the right team?
- Are you seeing traction?
- Do you have technology?
- Is the timing right for your company in the marketplace?
So you are a pretty active guy, having run marathons and completed ironman triathlons, how important do you feel it is to have a real passion outside of work, to maybe help improve you while you are working?
It’s very important to be a well-rounded person. If you do not have passions outside the workplace it makes it very difficult for you to draw on other non-work experiences that will ensure you are constantly invigorated, interesting to engage and testing yourself/balancing yourself outside the workplace.
What do you hope to achieve over the next 3 years?
I hope to continue to be able to scale Martini Media vertically, horizontally, geographically and culturally, begin to establish myself and my company as a technology leader and lastly, run the Western States 100 mile race.
Thanks Skip, some great tips there and good luck for the future!