TheWrap’s 2018 Innovators Share Their Advice for Aspiring Creators and Entrepreneurs

TheGrill 2018: “There’s a lot of great ideas. Pick the one and chase after it”

Last Updated: October 8, 2018 @ 11:54 AM

Four of TheWrap’s 2018 Innovators shared their advice for aspiring creators and entrepreneurs on stage at TheGrill on Tuesday.

Moderated by TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman, the panel featured Matt Stern, a co-founder of the augmented reality company Mira; Mike Wann, CEO of the livestreaming platform Mobcrush; Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, a playwright, producer and activist who has led the charge in development of Hollywood inclusion riders; and Colin Petrie-Norris, CEO of the ad-supported streaming company Xumo.

The innovators shared their perspectives from the stage at SLS Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Beverly Hills:

“There’s a lot of great ideas. Pick the one and chase after it… Not trying something and giving it a shot is a real missed opportunity,” said Wann, whose company was initially set up as a rival streaming platform to Twitch, but eventually morphed into a service that allows influencers and content creators to stream video across a variety of platforms at once.

Wann advised aspiring entrepreneurs not to be afraid of failure. The key, he said, is to “fail fast” and understand that failure “helps you eliminate that one variable and sends you down the next path.”

Petrie-Norris heads Xumo, an ad-supported streaming platform that launched the same time as, and eventually out-lived, Verizon’s go90.

“People like being asked what to do… People love sharing wisdom,” he said, arguing that knowing little about the industry he was attempting to disrupt — no one at Xumo has a traditional TV background — while remaining open to guidance and advice was key to his success.

“For us, a little bit of the magic was that none of us knew anything about what we were going to do,” he said. “I think the idea that we didn’t know what we were doing was kind of why we didn’t [fail].”

Stern, a 22-year-old recent college graduate, began Mira Augmented Reality with two other USC students in a dorm room. Now, with funding from investors including Sequoia Capital and Salesforce chief Marc Benioff, the company is developing both software and hardware for myriad industries, from telecom to aerospace and defense.

“Going from an idea to assessing an opportunity in today’s day and age is not a difficult feat,” Stern advised. “Don’t be afraid to turn your idea into execution.”

DiGiovanni, a longtime friend of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck who convinced the actors to adopt inclusion riders at their company Pearl Street Films, said the key to success in Hollywood is to not overlook opportunities to tell one’s own story — especially if traditional Hollywood systems haven’t made room for those stories in the past.

“Tell a story that will have an impact in the world, a positive one,” she said. “And then find ways for us to find you, because we’re looking for you and there are plenty of platforms now that are available for you to tell your story.”

“It just always shocks me how few people are actually listening to marginalized voices and understanding the importance of telling stories about those folks,” DiGiovanni said. “We can change the world through that … Also because we know now, we have very clear evidence, that when you do that you can make a whole lot of money.”