Gavin Finn – CEO of Kaon Interactive

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Gavin is an experienced operating executive with more than 20 years of success in building profitable, growth-oriented organizations. Since joining Kaon in 2005, under his direction the company has introduced a multitude of innovative, award-winning technologies including the Kaon v-OSK®.
Previously, Gavin was president and COO of Bluestreak, Inc., a provider of online marketing infrastructure software, where he transformed the company’s business model resulting in a 1,000% growth in revenues, three successful acquisitions, and a major European market expansion.

Gavin received his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University, and holds a Ph.D. and a Master’s of Science degree from MIT.

What are you working on right now?

Creating the next generation of user interface experiences that inspire and motivate audiences to action. We are transforming the way that people interact with devices, and transforming user experiences from being platform or venue-specific to being consistent across all touch-points.

3 trends that excite you?

Convergence of electronic devices – ultimately we will have a single device that replaces all of the disparate electronic communications and entertainment gadgets that we use in our daily lives.

Dramatic progress in advances in medical sciences – society has benefited immensely from the tectonic shifts in our understanding of physiology, biology, physics, and chemistry, and we still have so much to learn. But it is clear that stem cell research, bio-engineering, and, genetics research, to name but a few areas of scientific and medical exploration, offer wonderful opportunities for enhancing our quality of life.

Multiple careers – these days, people don’t just change jobs, they revolutionize their careers. It is exciting to think that more and more people are changing what they do, not just once in their careers, but several times. Why should we be limited to work in one field all of our lives? It is a healthy way to achieve both personal satisfaction as well as fresh thinking in a diverse range of disciplines.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Being a collaborative person by nature, I try to work together with people to push the envelope of what has already been done, and to use a combination of ideas and opinions to formulate an action strategy. The breakthrough moments in creating something tangible from ideas come when you can see the spark in individuals’ eyes as they see things in a way that brings them to a new perspective. I like to imagine the way things ought to be, and then work to eliminate all the things that prevent those ideas from being realities.

What inspires you?

Children inspire me. They are creative, fearless, passionate, direct, and pure.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

Early in my career I faced a business growth problem that, in reality, stemmed from a underlying flaw in the business model we adopted. Rather than completely scrapping what we were doing, I tried to improve performance by adjusting tactics. It didn’t work.  What I learned was that there are times when it is better to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. No amount of improvement in the execution of a fundamentally flawed strategy will lead to success.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Spend time completing this sentence about your company. If you can fill in the blanks with clear, definitive, information-filled words, you will have solved 50% of your marketing challenges:
We are a ______________ company, that provides _________________ to _______________, which is better than __________________  because __________________.

What is one book and one tool that helps you 
bring ideas to life?

Crossing the Chasm was a paradigm-altering book for me. As for tools, I model out ideas and strategies using spreadsheets…perhaps more than I should!

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Jim Baum – CEO of Netezza Corporation

How have you been able to transition as you have moved amongst the variety of industries in which you have worked?

What I have found is that there is always a great sense of intellectual curiosity and inquisitiveness when entering a business in a market that’s new to you. So I have relished the challenges of learning the key aspects of each new industry, from simple things such as the acronyms or lingo franca of the trade, to the complexities of the market dynamics and driving forces in each market. But what has been surprising to me is the extent to which there are common business principles that apply across industries, and companies. How to look at a business model with a critical eye; how to identify the key value drivers in a business; how to manage people and processes; how to build customer relationships. All of these, and many other aspects of management, transcend a specific vertical market, and lessons learned in any number of business experiences apply directly to each new opportunity and venture upon which I have embarked.

What have you learned about yourself that you didn’t know earlier in life?

For some reason, perhaps lack of motivation in my academic or extra-curricular activities, when I was young (particularly in high school) I procrastinated, made excuses, and exhibited lackluster effort in general. A common comment on my report cards was “not living up to his potential.”  Only when I was in college, but especially later on when I was responsible for myself and my family, did I figure out that it is better to pursue a task with determination, focus and discipline, and that the “work hard now and reap the rewards later” philosophy of life actually does pay off. I found that I enjoy working hard, even in non-business related activities, and that the satisfaction that comes from a personal best-effort far outweighs the sacrifices that have to be made in the pursuit of excellence.

Connect:

Gavin Finn on LinkedIn
Kaon Interactive

Published on January 20, 2011 .

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