Hi There!

I hope your Wednesday is going well. Welcome back to another episode of Ask Ash, where I interview WatchMojo Founder & CEO Ashkan Karbasfrooshan and ask him questions on various topics, ranging from covering what is going on in the news, to career advice for students & entrepreneurs.

Today, I wanted to talk about innovation. WatchMojo has been one of the most relevant companies not only on YouTube but the entertainment industry as a whole. As WatchMojo has been around for over 15 years, I wanted to learn more about how WatchMojo has innovated, and what industries Ash wanted to pursue outside of entertainment.

As WatchMojo is one of the biggest media brands on YouTube, how has WatchMojo not only evolved on YouTube but has dived into other exciting projects as well?
If you don’t innovate, you die – Innovator’s Dilemma isn’t limited to traditional corporations. Given the massive, accelerated pace of change, even disruptors get disrupted. Today, Tiktok is commanding more time spent on the platform than YouTube. So whereas we were smart & lucky to focus on YouTube early on, if we don’t adapt and recognize that audiences’ behaviors change, we may die. So from day 1, I’ve adhered to Andy Grove’s mantra that “only the paranoid survive.” When it comes to innovation, I refer to this Quadrant which shows “degrees of innovation.”

You can a) iterate on your core: MsMojo to serve a female demo, WM Espanol to serve Hispanic audiences, adapt the programming to tackle another platform like Snap; b) you can take evolutionary steps: the way we did when we expanded into podcasts or gameshows; c) you can make revolutionary bets: our efforts, for example, to expand into scripted storytelling, etc. I’ve written about this quite a bit in How Companies Avoid Death, and our own adventures in the Mad Scientist article, where I conceded we did too much, too quickly, on too many fronts… Entrepreneurs are paradoxes: we are both very impatient, and extremely patient. WatchMojo racked up nearly $1M in losses and didn’t find product-market fit for 6 years! Sometimes my awesome cast of executives don’t want to commit to years of investment and I recognize and respect that… so I have to find a way to motivate, align and ensure everyone understands the “Why” and is committed. It’s not obvious and frankly, sometimes you are wrong. As an entrepreneur, I am driven by brand-building and as an investor, by job creation. That’s also one lesson I learned, you can’t hire youth and just hope and pray that they execute… so despite wanting to grow, you appreciate to grow in a sustainable manner, hence the “hire slow, fire fast” mantra (I’ve come to accept the first part, I still struggle with the second part)!

Is there any industry or project that you want to pursue?
Too many. I always wanted to build a global media business, and in some ways, we pioneered the localization of our programming on YouTube. Additionally, as mentioned, we have taken some evolutionary steps and expanded into podcasts or gameshows; we have also made some revolutionary bets by dipping our toes into scripted storytelling, but that has come with its shares of headaches and heartbreaks.

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