Co-Founder, NuBlu, Blue Pacific Studios & Shopify
A self-taught designer and photographer, Daniel Weinand co-founded NuBlu, Blue Pacific Studios and Shopify, where he helped take the startup to IPO at a valuation of over a billion dollars. He is an experienced executive having been responsible for design and company culture in the past. Daniel is a recipient of OBJ’s Forty under 40 award and has been named in INC. magazine’s 30 under 30 list. Born in Germany, Daniel studied computer science and music at the University of Dortmund. About a decade ago, he moved to Canada eh.Having been a photographer in the past, I always had a fascination with telling stories. My childhood dream was to compose music for motion pictures so I feel that getting into video is just the obvious evolution for where I needed to be next. At the time, I have just left my previous company, Shopify that I helped found and take public and was looking for a change that resonated with my interests of today. I talked to my good friend Mike Janke and he talked to me about Blue Pacific Studios’ team and their plans for NuBlu–that didn’t have a name yet. So I took the next flight to LA to meet everybody and we jived really well and had a lot of mutual respect.
Having been a photographer in the past, I always had a fascination with telling stories. My childhood dream was to compose music for motion pictures so I feel that getting into video is just the obvious evolution for where I needed to be next. At the time, I have just left my previous company, Shopify that I helped found and take public and was looking for a change that resonated with my interests of today. I talked to my good friend Mike Janke and he talked to me about Blue Pacific Studios’ team and their plans for NuBlu–that didn’t have a name yet. So I took the next flight to LA to meet everybody and we jived really well and had a lot of mutual respect.
For one, we are seeing a change in attention span. Information becomes more popular if it’s easily digestible. Also, networks in the traditional sense are subject to change. With big players like Amazon and Apple entering the content game and joining the likes of Netflix, more Over the Top or short OTT content is in demand than ever. Young kids now watch other people play on Twitch instead playing a game themselves. Vice rose from the underground to mainstream. There’s a lot happening right now.
There is not enough high quality supply of OTT content out there, while the challenge clearly becomes stimulus satiation. How can the content be found by qualified viewers and not drowned out by all the millions of other videos that are being uploaded or broadcast.
We are creating one-of-a-kind content that not only shows things you haven’t seen yet but also lets you interact with us and the larger than life characters you see on the screen. In my eyes there is a lack of honest content and our vision is to create something that is not only entertaining but also informative and inspiring.
In our case that’s pretty straight-forward. We have several high quality ideas and shows that are in various stages of completion. So the fun is to see what the fans will like and give them more of that.
Since we are only launching now, we have to come back to this question once we have some meaningful data to share. The key for prospective success in my eyes is that the founding team is very diverse and everyone is accomplished. There are no egos and we are working as a team in the truest sense. We have the knowledge to be data-informed. So that may mean to try a dozen different things and not be afraid of some of them failing.
We are all coming from established places where a million dollars may not seem all that much. As an entertainment startup we have to be diligent about making every dollar count and to be prudent. At the risk that this may sound cliché, I don’t think of a challenge as being difficult but rather as an opportunity; at the very least something that people can learn from.
Like everyone else, we want to delight and engage our viewers. But in our case they get to experience how the people they see really are. They’re not playing a “character” but graciously share an in-the-life-of moment with you. Not only that, but we are making them accessible so you can ask them questions on our forums and get to know them better.
The biggest thing I found in my career is to empower someone. The expectation has to be set clearly that someone has a new responsibility that oftentimes is challenging. That also means this person has no excuses to make or complain because they were the owner of that part of the business. Being a boss does not mean your only job is to give your team tasks and evaluate them. A third of my time I am, yes. Another third, I am their equal sparring ideas or working with someone closely. And last third, I am working for them. Whether that means getting coffee or doing something for them that they can’t do.
I am new to this industry so it would be presumptuous of me to think that I can give great career advice for the entertainment industry. However, from what I have seen and learned so far is that there is a lot of room for disruption. Question why things are done a certain way and don’t take “we’ve always done it this way”. That’s where I hope my experience in tech can help our business see things from a different angle.