YEDaily: Steve Hulford

Some would call Steve Hulford a serial entrepreneur, with his latest achievement founding Filemobile, a digital tool that makes photo and video sharing a breeze in today’s tech-confused world. With clients including Disney and Fox news, check out the inspiration for Steve’s company and where it’s headed in today’s YED…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
At Filemobile I do a variety of different things. Each day is different. My title is Chief Creative Officer. My major areas of focus are: Sales / Marketing with a minor in Product Development. I am often speaking to clients about our products, educating and inspiring them about what they can do with the Filemobile platform. I manage the sales pipeline in our organization and do forecasting for sales projects. On the marketing side, I focus on working with people who help us with PR, social media marketing and writing articles for our blog. On the product development side, I am relaying information on market trends, client needs and wants into product development and feeding product development roadmap info back to our clients. All of these areas of focus are around providing clients with the best user experience and Filemobile experience.

Why did you start your company? What was the inspiration for this route?
I started the company by tinkering with Web 2.0 technology in 2005. Flickr and Brightcove were an early inspiration for me. I was looking to build a tool that I personally wanted – A way to upload photos and videos and not have to worry about formats and video codecs. It was 2005 and people had 3 applications installed to just watch videos on their PC’s. Flash was changing all of that and I wanted to have a tool where you could upload photos/videos and share them with friends and post them to your blog. I wrote some software specs, and found programmers in Amsterdam to build it for me. Then with my business partners we launched as a beta site for consumers. We started showing it to media companies that we knew including: Much Music, Molson and CBC and they saw a way to manage user generated content they would use on web / mobile and TV. This was an early pivot for the company and the rest is history. Four years later we are doing business with Disney, Maxim, Conde Nast, ABC, Fox News, and more.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part, for me, is coming up with creative solutions with clients that leverage Filemobile’s Media Factory platform. It is cool to see how far we can push ideas and do it all with one system. Every project that launches is like a new feather in our cap. To also watch as the company grows and new people come into the organization, energised to be part of this profound change in how media is being consumed, is also great fun. The most challenging part is really something all Entrepreneurs have to deal with. That is that it is a roller coaster ride. Business is always on your mind and you have good days and bad days. In fact you have good hours and bad hours. Keeping your head focused with all the distractions that come at you each day is a great challenge.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
That is a tough question! This is my third start-up. My hope would be that Filemobile has grown and is doing tremendous work. In five years I would imagine that it has found a good home, and if I am involved in it I would be continuing to speak to clients about our products and inspiring them with new ways to use the platform. If I am not, I will be continuing to create new business opportunities in the digital world with media companies and brands. Somewhere in there I want to take a break to take stock of what I have learned. I enjoy the time in between companies to figure out what I want to do next.

What does success look like to you?
Great clients, great work, happy employees, revenue and profit. Looking forward to work each day. A 10-minute bike ride to work. Balance.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
I think it would have to be when my business partner and I sold to Rogers in 2008. We met with our investment bank team and Rogers at 333 Bloor St. East on the 12th floor and signed a lot of documents. It was a great feeling to sell a business and have a successful exit under our belt.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Build something you would use. Find someone who wants to buy it from you, and repeat. Don’t be afraid to pivot if you find an opportunity to build a better business. Bootstrap your business to prove your model. Don’t take too much money; don’t ask for too little money. Keep at it! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Have business partners (because you can’t do it all). Try to have fun every day, and hire good people.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I support many friends who campaign for different charities via social media. I have an account on Kiva that I have had for three years. I am regularly loaning out money to organizations on Kiva. I have travelled extensively and see the need on the ground for what Kiva brings entrepreneurs. I am also involved with Project Wildfire where we run a “Dragons Den” for young entrepreneurs. We are just starting our second year at this. I enjoy using the Filemobile technology for good and we provide our software to several organizations pro bono when every we are inspired to do so. It feels good to give back and there is just so much good work being done in the not for profit / charity space.

What to you is notable?
I think it is people doing good work, which could come from any industry. You know it when you see it, and you want to know more about these people and what motivates them and inspires them. Living in Toronto is exciting because there is so many people doing great things.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone. Can’t live without it.