Interview with Lindsay Stewart, CEO and Founder, Stringr

Interview with Lindsay Stewart, CEO and Founder at Stringr
Lindsay Stewart, CEO and Founder at Stringr

“There are many challenges to being an entrepreneur — you are building something from nothing, and most people, whether it is customers or investors, tell you no at an early stage.”

Tell us about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to start Stringr?

I am the Founding CEO of Stringr. Before starting Stringr, I was a broadcast news producer — my last stop was at ABC News where I produced stories for the network. It was there that I realized I wanted more video from harder-to-reach geographies at price points that made sense, and I wanted an interface that facilitated all of that. Five years later, we have major media customers and investors and more than 65,000 highly responsive videographers in the US who actively contribute video.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for a woman CEO in technology? How do you stay on top of your business game?

There are many challenges to being an entrepreneur — you are building something from nothing, and most people tell you no at an early stage,  whether it is customers or investors. As far as being a female entrepreneur, there are certain ingrained biases you face. However, I’d say they are the same biases you experience in the corporate world. The fact of the matter is, there are more men than women in higher positions, and nearly all of those men want to be fair.

However, when I walk into a room, a man will never think, “That person in front of me, looks like me. I remember when I was at her stage of life, doing what she’s trying to do.” They are able to do that with some male entrepreneurs. It’s not a misogyny issue, it’s a relatability issue, in my view, but it’s still an issue. Honestly, I stay on my business game by surrounding myself with people better than me. Stringr COO, Brian McNeill, is one of the best forward-thinking people I know. My investors are good, helpful and many are great role models. I try to stay in the know by reading as much as I can about what others are working on and I try to never think of a competitive product as competition, but rather as a way to learn. Most of our competitors have taught me something.

What message do you have for other women, especially in the Marketing and Sales functions?

Walk into the room and deny the premise there’s any difference between you and your male counterparts. There’s obviously one or two, but really it doesn’t matter.

How do you see the evolution of video sharing impacting the way we consume information online?

Interesting question. Video sharing makes video more relevant; everyone expects to see it when they read about something now, and the sharing of it enforces its relevance and it becomes a virtuous cycle, of sharing, expectation and creation. There are challenges with it as well, namely, that any media (video, text, etc.) when not fully consumed but shared, can be a vehicle for misinformation. What I like about video is it’s harder to lie with it. For the most part, seeing is believing.

What are your predictions on the role of video technologies and their impact on fake News Marketing? How does Stringr identify fake news streaming?

Stringr takes authenticity very seriously, and not to get into the weeds too much, but we have both technology and real people vetting the videos we are sharing with our partners, to confirm it is indeed real.

What startups in the MarTech ecosystem are you watching/keen on right now?

Our team recently partnered with online video platform Brightcove. We’ve enjoyed following the company’s journey as they’ve developed their platform and capabilities over the past few years and are excited to continue our work alongside the best players in the industry.

What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2018?

Unbounce, Mailchimp, and some others that we’d like to keep to ourselves!

Would you tell us about your standout digital campaign?

A little over a year ago, we launched our end-to-end video production suite. It occurred to us that the best way to demonstrate how valuable the suite could be would be to use it ourselves to produce our own original content. This ended up killing three birds with one stone — we learned the benefits of our platform firsthand, we were able to demonstrate the capabilities to our customers, and we ended up with our own destination news property. Success, in this case, was not measured by a hard metric, but instead the feedback and validation we received from customers when they saw what could be produced so quickly using our technology.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?

I think the way to prepare is to keep an eye on what tasks should be automated and what shouldn’t. I work in media and so most often it takes a real human being to make necessary editorial judgements. On the other side, there are places where automation should be welcome, so those real humans at Stringr and my partners can do their job with the most information with the highest degree of efficiency.

We have an AI product we are developing here at Stringr. Our team’s main goal is for the tool to improve the quality of insight and work for the people who use Stringr’s tools (not automation for automation’s sake). With that in mind, I keep up to date on other players in the space so that we know what they are Marketing and we can have informed conversations about our own product. This also helps how we differentiate ourselves when we talk to our customers.

One word that best describes how you work.

Driven.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Dark Sky, Wine.com, Excel, MS Word, email — but most importantly, my telephone. I really believe in talking to people.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

Having the courage to delegate to other members of the team.

What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

Kitchen Confidential, the NY Times (their daily briefings are the bomb), Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The San Jose Mercury News, every billboard, subway marketing message — I read a lot, both digitally and in hard form. I have a Kindle but prefer reading books by holding the whole darn thing in my hands. I still like the smell of paper.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Competition will face the same market forces, don’t worry about them too much and don’t let anything keep you up at night (which is really hard to heed!).

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Elon Musk — he’s built so much more than I have, and yet, I relate to his journey.

Thank you, Lindsay! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Lindsay Stewart is the founding CEO of Stringr, a video production platform that leverages the only nationwide network of highly responsive videographers. Before starting Stringr, Lindsay was a network news producing working for ABC, Fox News and Bloomberg. Lindsay earned her BA in English at University of California, Berkeley and MBA at The Wharton School.

Stringr Logo

Stringr is a comprehensive video marketplace that enables media organizations to source custom footage, edit and publish — under very tight deadlines. The company leverages the only nationwide network of more than 60,000 highly responsive videographers who provide broadcast-quality video in every major U.S. market. Stringr is based in NYC and was founded in 2014 by Lindsay Stewart and Brian McNeill, who met at The Wharton School.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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