StartupGrind Hosts SoMedia Networks President Ben Pickering for Fireside Chat

On Wednesday, February 12, Invoke Labs hosted the President and COO of SoMedia Networks, Ben Pickering, for one of StartupGrind’s Fireside Chats.

Cheryl Mack, the director of the Vancouver chapter of StartupGrind, conducted the interview. After 45 minutes of lively networking, the crowd found its seats, and another 45 minutes later, the talk concluded itself. Much of the crowd lingered until 9pm. The audience of 50 mingled freely, loudly, and happily. The fireplace (crackling on an iPad poised between the two of them) created an atmosphere that was both cozy and digitally minded. Pickering’s the first to admit, and admitted firstly, his position in the entrepreneurial world.

“I think of myself as entrepreneurial but not necessarily the prototypical entrepreneur,” he said. “I view myself as an operator, and my background, working at larger companies with the MBA that I have, that’s all great management training, and I think that there’s two kinds of people that I see: the true entrepreneurs, who have the big idea and chase after it, and there’s people like me, who try to guide it and help it grow in an intelligent manner.”

Unsurprisingly, one of Pickering’s most stridently made points was that content is indeed king.

“Content in marketing is vital these days,” he posited. “How do you sell, how do you get something through the sales cycle? That’s changed dramatically, especially in the B2B space. Strutta’s really like a B2B2C space. People who are out there are looking for stuff. They want to read about what you’re doing, they want to think that you’re a thought leader, to use that expression, they want to think you know what you’re doing. Having the content up there that speaks to that is really essential.”


BEN PICKERING: Innovation is an Incremental Revolution


As one would expect from the president of a video production company, Pickering declared video the most important trend of 2014. When asked if there was a secret to how Strutta became a preferred marketing developer for Facebook, Pickering replied honestly.

“Have friends at Facebook. At that point they had a pretty small program, and a lot of people I knew from Yahoo had gone to work there. They wanted to see some proof of what we can do, and we had some client work we were able to show them. Make friends at big powerful companies,” he advised.

The conversation covered a broad range of topics: the tradeoffs of involvement in public versus private companies; the pros and cons of raising capital prior to profit (he weighed in favour of money, as soon as you can acquire it); do Canadians think big enough? (the investors can be a bit conservative); whether or not to be in service (he did not seem to care for it personally).

StartupGrind’s events are on a monthly basis. Next month’s speaker will be GrowLab’s Jonathan Bixby, while April will have Igor Faletski, CEO of Mobify, sitting by the fire. Mack’s not running out of local talent to feature any time soon.

“The startup scene here is exceptional,” she told Techvibes.

“We want to be the top event for entrepreneurs to come to in Vancouver,” she added. “That means not just creating the best speakers, but having the best venues, the best sponsors, the best food, and giving back as much as we can. It’s about creating a cozy environment and a better setting than your usual startup event.”

Startups and startup events have that much in common; to thrive, they have to offer the best product they can, in a unique style, and remember that content is king. The night’s chat will be up on the StartupGrind website within two weeks.