One of the most influential entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry is about to take the 5 Question Challenge.
Currently, Kent Speakman serves as the Chief Operating Officer and Founding Partner of fameus. This company is a game changing social network that will help connect professionals all over the entertainment industry.
In addition to his responsibilities as fameus’s COO, Mr. Speakman acts an advisor to ENGAGEIA after spending three years as the company’s CEO and Managing Partner. ENGAEIA works with both established brands and start-ups to develop marketing strategies to conquer both social media and the digital world.
He has received numerous awards including iMedia’s Top 10 Hottest Digital Marketers in 2011 and iMedia’s Winner Next Wave-Best Mobile Entertainment Start-Up Award of 2012.
In this edition, Kent talked about both of his companies and how he overcame some of the biggest challenges that he has faced in his career.
Jacob Elyachar: When did you first get interested in the entertainment industry?
Kent Speakman: I think I have always had an interest in the entertainment industry; my first memory would be from family gatherings when our cousins would come over and we would put together plays for the relatives at four-to-five-years old. It really started to take shape for me in high school, where I was one of the first students to participate in a test program for communication technology…. It was essentially a college level program for Radio, Television and Film. I loved it so much I actually skipped my other classes and would end up getting kicked out of the school when it was closing, as I loved to be working on projects. I completed the three-year program in one semester and stayed on to get additional credits for helping teach the other students. The entertainment industry has always been a passion and it has never stopped growing – especially now as technology is changing the way storytelling is done. All the mediums in the entertainment industry are coming together.
JE: You have been very instrumental in creating two companies including Fameus and Engageia. What were some of the driving forces that lead you to create or co-create these companies?
KS: The root of creating anything useful is going to be creating something that can add value to the lives of other people. The approach to achieve this outcome with both companies is different.
When Rob (Danard) and I started ENGAGEIA, there was a massive gap in the marketplace that we were able to fill in order to service our customers. Personally, having the fortune to have worked with some huge brands and companies at the large agencies, I brought a very strategic approach to the thinking we used to tackle Social Media for our clients. The big agencies hadn’t quite put a process around it and there were thousands of young graduates with “Social Media Expert” titles and no practical experience or holistic corporate understanding. We filled a gap in the market and were able to help some great companies, from publicly traded to bootstrapped start-ups gain market traction. As we saw more opportunities to apply these strategies to startups, we shifted focus and are now incubating and creating new platforms to help people.
Fameus fills another huge gap in the market, and finds a new way to help people… There are lots of outdated and hard to use websites that are fragmented across all the industry verticals for people in the entertainment industry. When we first started working on the idea we sat down with dozens of friends including musicians, actors, models, make-up artists, stylists, and producers. We included people who were just getting started as well as some names we all know well. We found out how we could provide them with a tool that would help them and built a platform that could provide them value in their daily lives. It will help potentially millions of people in the entertainment industry connect with one another and collaborate on projects, get discovered for their talents, and find new work opportunities.
So to bring that all back to the question – the first and most fundamental driving force I get excited about is finding ways to add value – ENAGEIA accomplishes this on a corporate level, and Fameus does this on an individual level.
I think the second part to my answer would be doing it better than anyone else. Once you find how you can add value to peoples’ lives, you have to figure out how to do it better than anyone else does.
JE: What have some of the biggest challenges that you faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
KS: This is a great question! There have been so many challenges I had to overcome… It is hard to know where to begin. However, I think my Top 4 challenges have involved tests with patience, location, education and having the wrong people on the bus.
When I was younger, I lacked patience to stick things out when I wasn’t getting the promotions that I thought I deserved. This was an interesting challenge as I was always able to work hard and make it into a management position beyond my age, but I would hit the ceiling and feel stuck very quickly. I think I overcame this in my mid-to-late 20s when I learned that I could challenge myself to become better by reading a lot of books. I could improve both my personal qualities at the same time as my management and practical skills.
The second challenge, I faced was that I was born in Edmonton, Alberta – a far land from Hollywood, where all the exciting entertainment stuff was going on. So, I had to put the time in and work hard to build up my experience, skills and relationships to be able to make the move here. To come to the USA, you must be able to prove you are exceptional within your field, so I had to work my ass off and make this happen. The great thing from this challenge is I have made amazing friends and colleagues in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto – and all this experience and the path to get here has set me up to be ready for this stage of my life.
Thirdly, Education – I attended NAIT in Edmonton and took the marketing program there, so I did not have an MBA or a Harvard degree to get some of the jobs that I wanted in the past. Don’t get me wrong NAIT is a great college with great programs. In my work experience, I was fortunate to be challenged to learn how to do things like putting a business case together for a multi- billion dollar international organization, and do organizational analysis and strategic planning for dozens of great companies… so I was able to learn much of what I missed. I also was able to build some friendships with some amazing CEOs and CMOs of companies and got some great hands on advice. This also forced me to be entrepreneurial and take things into my own hands, which is something I could not be happier for doing.
My final big mistake was making a few of bad decisions in whom I chose to work with. I think this might have been the biggest challenge as these mistakes put me into some very hard places. I learned to walk away – as in any relationship that we have in our lives, they should be positive. I have walked away from bad partners in finance deals, technology projects and film projects – and although each time this happened I wanted to stay in bed for a week, these are the times that have all lead to much better projects, partnerships and an all around happier life.
JE: You are very active on social media. How has social media helped you grow as an entrepreneur and how is it going to evolve for the next generation?
KS: Social media has been a big part of my professional life. It has allowed me to build a personal brand and share my professional experiences as well as stay in touch and connect with professionals around the world. It has allowed me to maintain friendships and keep up with what thousands of people I have met are doing. It has provided countless new opportunities. Social media is now an everyday part of our lives – entrenched in everything we do. The platforms will change, evolve and more new niche platforms will come into play to accomplish specific goals, such as with fameus helping to connect people in the entertainment industry.
JE: If you had the chance to meet with aspiring entrepreneurs who want to work in the entertainment industry, what advice would you share with them?
KS: My first piece of advice is to set goals. You should know where you want to go, and then you can plot a course to get there. I would also tell them to “Be patient!” Everything will take longer than you anticipate, most of the time. You should also start building relationships. You cannot get ahead alone and you need to meet people in the industry… attend networking events, go to events and meet people and find ways you can help others. Get mentors – find some experienced people to help you with advice and keep you going in the right direction (just don’t ask them for a job – let them offer if the time is right). Finally, set up a profile on www.fameus.me and start making connections!
For more information about Kent Speakman, visit his website: http://kentspeakman.com/