Octane: Seth Lieberman - CEO, Pangea Media
We are excited to have Seth Lieberman as our guest on Octane! Seth is the Founder & CEO of Pangea Media in Watertown. Pangea Media is a leading provider of quiz based social marketing solutions for advertisers and publishers. Their clients include: NBC/Comcast, PC World, NPR, and the State of NY.
Pangea Media recently announced a new product called SnapApp, which is a marketing platform for customer engagement and acquisition. This product enables marketers and publishers to create quizzes, polls, surveys and contests and distribute them on their websites, Facebook, and Twitter.
VentureFizz: Can you provide an overview as to your background and professional history?
Seth Lieberman: I started as a tech banker at Credit Suisse First Boston in New York- say what you will about finance, I worked for some great people who were fantastic mentors and great teachers. The lessons and skills I learned there- to master financial statements, to work 100 hours a week ,and to find a way to just get it done still serve me well to this day. But banking wasn't for me- so I left to start my first real company here in Boston, Focalex. Focalex started in the email marketing space, added lead generation and then moved on to viral marketing. I sold it in 2006 to Intermix Media, the parent company of MySpace, who later sold the whole thing to News Corp. I took a short break and then 4+ years ago started Pangea Media with several original team members from Focalex. Today we are the largest quiz and quiz technology company on the web using engagement to drive customer acquisition.
VF: What professional accomplishments are you the most proud of?
- Building a great culture where people can grow personally and professionally and are empowered
VF: What does Pangea Media do?
SL: Pangea Media is the largest quiz and quiz technology company on the web. The Pangea Media SnapApp platform enables marketers and publishers to create and distribute quizzes, polls, surveys and contests that engage users and drive customer acquisition across their websites, Facebook and Twitter. With more than 300 million quizzes taken, companies benefit from Pangea Media’s extensive expertise in all aspects of creating and distributing quizzes.
VF: How did you come up with the idea behind Pangea Media?
SL: We didn't invent the quiz- not by a long shot (obviously). But I think we were at the forefront of understanding how to leverage its power for customer acquisition/ lead generation. We started with a simple hypothesis (or three)- tested, iterated, and then ran like mad.
VF: What lessons have you learned along the way, since starting Pangea Media?
SL: Don't just follow the short money- make sure to build a deep product layer underneath.
VF: You were the Co-Founder and former CEO of Focalex, which was acquired by Intermix Media (the parent company of MySpace). What advice would you give to entrepreneurs that are considering selling their company?
SL: Talk to your co-founders and make sure you are all on the same page regarding expectations and what you consider success. When there is a difference of opinions, goals or objectives around this, you have to figure it out—it is like a time bomb that needs to be diffused. After you figure out what you want, work backward to figure out the milestones you need to achieve to get there and how you'll do that. Most suitors don't just show up with a bag of cash and throw it at you. Oh, and hire a great lawyer for the transaction.
VF: As a serial entrepreneur, what are the top 3 lessons that you have learned along the way?
- Money isn't everything and it isn't the only benchmark of success
- Invest in people (staff, advisors and your board)
- Know yourself
VF: I noticed that Andy Payne and David Cancel are on your advisory board. How important is it for entrepreneurs to have advisors / mentors?
SL: Crucial. Find the smartest best people you can and hunt them down. Everyone needs a ""swing coach""- find as many as you can and seek their advice...BUT follow your own path and instinct.
VF: Any suggestions around managing your time while building a company & product that you can pass along?
SL: Don't have kids.
VF: Any other points of advice or inspiration for entrepreneurs?
SL: Failure is an option. It is not the worst thing that can happen. Cliché as it is, how you react to setbacks and what you learn from them can prove really valuable down the road.
VF: If you weren't focused on building Pangea Media, what are some other underserved markets or emerging technologies where you could build a business?
SL: I have a running joke that I tell- which is that for my next company I am only going to focus on 3 verticals: births, marriages and deaths. They are evergreen opportunities. It's a joke, but its funny because it's true. I might throw education in there.
VF: Personal question - what are the three music picks of the year?
SL: I'm a huge music fan and consume large quantities of music. My 3 breakout picks of 2011 so far are: Middle Brother, Dawes and James Vincent McMorrow.