One person can make a lot of commotion, but it takes a team to take action.
TV and digital media maven Ashley Swartz has been scaling, selling and deploying new and emerging media channels for over 15 years. Ashley is an expert in the business models and platforms of TV tomorrow and online video advertising, with a background in finance and an MBA. Her career has included manufacturing of components, electronics, entrepreneurial start-ups, and running a media practice, all coupled with 10+ years living and working in Europe, Asia and Central America. Prior to founding Furious Corp, she led the iTV practice at Digitas New York and the global Samsung.com business.
Where did the idea for Furious Corp come from?
My first career was in manufacturing where I built tangible products. Most of these products you could touch and feel — unlike in advertising where we sell time. As our business became more complex with more customers in numerous locations, we had a system (Enterprise Resource Planning Software) to connect our business. This enabled us to no longer have to plan in silos (plant by plant, customer by customer, etc.) and enabled us to run our business as a portfolio, which managed revenue and cost.
I am an expert regarding the future of television and how technology and changing audience behaviors continue to evolve within the business and economics of TV advertising. After having worked on both sides of the media value chain, I realized one day that there is no such platform in media that horizontally connects the enterprise and all the disparate technology and data that powers advertising. There was a gap within that area, and I set out to build a platform to horizontally connect the advertising businesses of media companies that visualize, predicts, plans and optimizes them across all of their sales channels to maximize revenue and operational efficiency.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I live in New York City and am up by 5 A.M. to train at the gym or teach a spin class. I often am talking to my team in Israel during my commute. I walk to my office while taking calls in transit and arrive by 9 A.M. I expect my days to be about fire drills and thus providing my team what they need to make sure they are not delayed while waiting for me to complete tasks. We spend quite a bit of time talking about the industry, market, customer or articles we read in the morning regarding breaking news.
Evenings are often work dinners and drinks, and I use my weekends to produce tangible work. Those items often include creating decks, financial models, documents, writing, etc.
I usually work out hard in the morning and I have been doing that faithfully for as long as I need to. Sometimes I get up at 4:30 AM to have more time for cardio. I also usually walk to as many places as I can in the city to help me clear my head and make the most of my time. In addition, I minimize how much alcohol I drink and cut off caffeine past 11 A.M. so I can sleep better. Getting 6.5 hours of sleep has changed my quality of life and productivity, but I had to hit a breaking point before I realized how important self-preservation was.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Well, I’m not alone, that is for sure. My team is filled with people much smarter than I, so I bounce ideas off of them, we make a plan and then execute it with passion.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
A trend that I feel very passionate about is the fact that there needs to be more investment of venture capital to female founders. Granted, it is a slow process to happen, but it is about progress, not change for sustainability.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Gratitude. I wear the word around my neck every day, keep a gratitude journal, send hand-written thank you cards to my investors, say thank you and express gratitude often. Most importantly, I mean it and am sincere. When people know their efforts, time, talent and brain are genuinely appreciated and valued, they help you more. And they make you more productive.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked for a day as a receptionist at a law office during the summer when I was 16 years old. I learned I would rather have dirt under my nails and a sore back at the end of a day than not be challenged in some way
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have saved more money to fund my companies and travel.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Say thank you.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Hiring a team that is smarter than I am and reminding them every day I could not do it without them. We often mistake motion for action in the start-up world. One person can make a lot of commotion, but it takes a team to take action.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I failed quickly at raising capital at the beginning of each round I have raised. I just didn’t stop … took it on the chin and let the “No” make me work harder, faster, stronger. I worked through my own personal baggage of being afraid to ask for help.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An on-demand dog walking and pet companion service for single moms. My dog is my everything! I live alone and work a lot. When I am unexpectedly stuck at work or maybe want to have a sleepover at a friend’s house, I would pay a lot to have someone go to my house within an hour of when I call them, hang out with my dog, take him out and show him some love. Women are very willing to pay to avoid or eliminate guilt.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
Massages in Vietnam. $100 bought me five hours of them.
What software and web services do you use?
I use a ton of apps that help with my on-demand life, including grocery delivery, appointment scheduling, car service, meal delivery, etc. I hate planning and love things that let me keep my life organized and enable me to outsource as much as possible.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Read Team of Teams by General McChrystal, who led the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan for 10 plus years. He talks about how the enemy changed and so the military had to as well — from a hierarchical standpoint to implementing a network of teams. Therefore, it applies to business today.
What people have influenced your thinking?
I am a sponge and take it from where I can get it. I am inspired every day by everyday people. Be open to being inspired and awakened and you will be in the most unexpected places.