Name: Scott Warner
Hometown: Current: Orem, Utah / Grew Up: Los Angeles, California
Company Name: GIGG Inc.
Company Founding Year: 2013
What’s your professional background? What paved the way to where you are now?
I was the Vice President of Sales for a company called Pinnacle Security. We distributed residential security systems across North America, doing about $150 million a year in revenue. It was a great gig for me. It was something that definitely got me prepared for what I’m doing now.
But nothing in the music industry or anything specifically tied to where you ended up? No experience in the music business? Just a passion from afar?
That’s exactly right. I’m definitely the least musically inclined in my family, but I’m surrounded by musicians. Mom and Dad were always playing music; my Mom listened to kind of the Top 40 stuff, my dad listened to old school classics, my friends listen to hip hop and rap. I had every world of music around me growing up. I just developed a tremendous love for it. It is spiritual for me. It is my inspiration.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur and go out on your own?
I decided back in 2013 that it was time for me to move on and go after my passion. My passion is in the arts and in music—I’ve always had a feeling that that’s where I wanted to be and where I’d end up. I looked at the industry and I saw it struggling in a lot of ways and I wanted to help make something that helped artists. I feel like the greatest opportunity in the history of music, on the business side, is right now.
How did you find the time, money and people to get your business off the ground? Did you just jump ship and go all in or was it more of a slow transition?
I had ownership and equity in my other company, I had an incredible salary, was making incredible money, and I just decided to take the plunge. I put everything I own into this. I raised a few million dollars but I put a few million dollars in myself into building this. I put everything on the line…when I left Pinnacle, I actually started 4 separate businesses. All of them have done very well. I’ve sold out of a couple of them, I have my own restaurant, I started a blogging company—but Gigg was always my baby. It’s definitely the greatest thing I’ve ever done and it’s really starting to pick up now. What an adventure—all the ups and downs.
Was the fundraising a difficult time for you?
It was hell, man. Complete hell. I actually haven’t taken a dollar now for three years outside of personal money. There are good and bad things that come with taking money from investors. I’m lucky; at the end of the day, I have a great group of investors who are so supportive of me. When I first started, I had no revenue. I just had a vision and an idea. My vision has always stayed intact but I think I’ve pivoted about two thousand times, but I’ve fought hard to not take money and grind this out. You want to put your efforts towards generating money rather than taking money. That’s when your business becomes really valuable.
So when you were finally building stuff—when Gigg was becoming real—what were your first steps with the product? What did it look like when your “baby” was born?
What I did was I started to create a platform to help aspiring artists and mainstream artists get the exposure that they wanted or needed. Due to the nature of the business, and my own interests, I started to get to know artists on a personal level, trying to understand the things they wished that they had and the things they were currently using online to help them with building their brand.
What Gigg started as was Gigg Stage; it was the first tool we created. That was a platform that allowed artists to compete head to head for an opportunity; the chance to do something cool; perform at an amazing venue. For instance, we just finished a global competition to see who would get to open for Tim McGraw at The Stadium of Fire—the biggest stadium 4th of July event in the country—to perform in front of 50,000 people live, and 2 million service men and women live streamed across the globe.
The platform is set up to be based on “social media votes” – so it’s a marketing machine. Every time that someone votes for an artist, there’s a social push. So, in the event that you, Ben, wanted to compete and I was voting for you, I would post something to Facebook or Twitter or Instagram saying, “Hey, I just voted for <Ben> in the <Stadium of Fire> tournament, to open for <Tim McGraw>, presented by <Gigg>, in sponsorship with Home Depot.” Every time a vote goes out, you as an artist are getting attention, Gigg is getting attention, Tim McGraw is getting attention and our title sponsor would get attention. It’s major exposure; we’ve had competitions where we generated 250 million impressions.
That big one was a competition with Carrie Underwood. We’ve worked with all kinds of bands. Imagine Dragons, believe it or not, came in third in our first Stadium of Fire Tournament—when Gigg was just young and new.
There is more sophistication now built into the platform right? What did that original platform evolve into?
Beyond the Gigg Stage platform—which I would describe as a branding, promotion and exposure tool—we built out a platform that helps businesses understand important data. We have so much information out there available to us, so the Gigg formula, at a high level, has been to leverage and expose data, along with social media, to drive better business.
For us, there are two worlds of data: internal and external. External data would be information and activity seen through social media, RSS feeds, news, blogs, and all kinds of things that are being said outside the walls of the company. Then the internal data is any data you’re collecting, creating, storing on your company. It could be QuickBooks, it could be SalesForce, it could even be POS systems. We bring those two worlds together to help you understand that information holistically, be more efficient and make better decisions in your space. From there we’re looking to get into a bunch of other things…
So where is everything headed? Where will we see Gigg in about 5 years?
About a year ago I realized that what I was creating for artists was something that everyone could benefit from. Everyone wanted exposure, everyone wants branding opportunities, everybody wants to improve social media awareness and everyone wants to monetize. When I say everyone, I mean everyone, from businesses to individuals.
“Gigg” is passion—that’s how I look at it. When I go in and talk to a business, or anyone, it’s essentially going in and understand what their “gig” is. ‘I’m a shoe salesman,” or “I run WalMart,” or “I’m an artist,” or “I’m an athlete.” Everyone is an artist or has a passion for something. All the stuff I wanted to help “artists” with, the same goes for you as a writer…I want Gigg to become the destination that helps people build their brand and their business. Using social media, using internal data and all the most relevant information to help make more effective and intelligent decisions.
Eventually, Gigg is going to be an aggregator of technology and innovation. People that have ideas of how we can help our customers build their gig, their brand, their passion—we’ll bring it in and roll it into a suite of offerings. Almost Comcast-ish; they brought together internet, telephone and television and packaged it in such a way that it supports all the core communication, information and engagement needs. That’s the kind of direction this is going.
What has been your favorite part of founding and growing your business?
The people I’ve met. I have met some of the most amazing people. It’s actually surreal. I really enjoy learning about people and learning about their passions. I try my best to help pull the passion out of an individual and help them get behind what it is they truly what they want to do in life. A lot of people are scared to do that. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people with whom I’ve had the chance to help fulfill their passion. That’s what I’ve enjoyed most.
What has been the most frustrating part of founding and growing your business?
I have struggled to wear all the hats. I have things I’m good at doing, but I’ve had to wear a lot of hats and it has been overwhelming. Stress like I’ve never had in my life. I was telling my wife the other day that I was looking at a family picture from two years ago, and then a recent family picture of us now, and I swear I’ve aged ten years in the past two years. But I’m trying to find a better cream to keep my skin looking good and everyone once in a while getting some sleep (laughs).
So what do you have that helps you avoid stress overload?
Definitely my family and my faith. My family is my safe haven, my foundation, my rock. And I’m a spiritual guy. Those are definitely two things that keep me moving.
If you had to do one other thing full-time—if you were forced to do something else–what would it be?
As I do continue to build Gigg, I would love to produce blockbuster films and produce global bands and artists. I want to keep an eye on good content and create the kind of stuff I believe in. Maybe I’d be a Jerry Bruckheimer, but at both levels of music and film.
Where can people keep track of you and the exciting future of Gigg?
People can go to Gigg.com—we just put a new landing page up recently, but we’re still making adjustments and it all still needs a huge overhaul. People can also follow me on my social media. I’m very social media driven. A lot of people go to my Twitter or Snapchat, and I kind of bring everyone along for the ride so they can see what an entrepreneur’s is all about. I’m pretty open about stuff there and I’ve been told that people really enjoy coming along for the adventure. So you learn a lot about what it is that I’m doing by checking me out there.