Aviv Hadar – Owner/Founder of Think Brilliant and SoulPancake

aviv-hadar

In 2007, Aviv Hadar founded Think Brilliant Media Studios in Portland, Oregon. The group is easily one of the most talented and innovative teams to hit the technology scene in quite some time.

Aviv Hadar is driven by his passion to build great things. He has a deep infatuation with making complex interfaces easy to use. One of the largest applications his team runs is SoulPancake.com, co-founded by The Office’s Rainn Wilson. Not even a year old, the site has found immense popularity online, and offline with a book deal based on SoulPancake’s content due out later this year under the Hyperion Publishing house.

Think Brilliant has a world-class team of big brains, and they aren’t afraid to make aggressive plays with their technology. Most recently they’ve been behind the ‘I’m With Coco‘ sensation, based on a viral masterpiece by artist and team-member Mike Mitchell.

Currently Aviv Hadar lives with his girlfriend Christina and their two dogs Nya and Ryu. Generally, you can find him riding his bike, spending time with his dogs, or obsessing over pixels.

What are you working on right now?

From a professional standpoint, it’s quite humbling to say that we’ve been pretty lucky over the last couple of years. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with some very incredible people and put together a truly amazing team at Think Brilliant.

On a day to day operations level, we run all the technology and software behind The LabCoat Platform, SoulPancake.com, MacBlogz.com, and a few other applications. Already in 2010, we’ve launched a completely rewritten version of SoulPancake, and the first public instance of LabCoat, our brand new Applications Development Platform. The ‘I’m With CoCo’ movement has been a whirlwind of excitement, ultimately ending with Mike meeting Conan and getting the OK for us to sell goods at the I’m With CoCo shop.

We’ve got some incredibly exciting things coming in 2010.

From a personal standpoint, since moving to Portland I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the city and its marvelous surroundings. I’ve developed quite an arsenal of trails, hikes and awesome paths to explore on a daily basis. I love loading up my bike, the dogs, and hitting the trails for hours on end. I’m constantly looking for ways to release stress and generally balance myself, so that’s an ongoing process.

3 Trends that excite you?

While I could say that all the current internet technology buzz-words excite me, a huge amount of it is nothing more than hype. Real-time communication, social streams, status updates, social graphs… It’s all blanket terminology. Here’s what I’m really most excited about.

1. Companies That Aren’t for Sale

Nearly every entrepreneur I meet has a long-term goal of selling his or her company to Google. I’m not kidding when I say that 80% of the people I meet somehow conclude our conversation with “and potentially Google may be interested in buying it.” I hate this mentality. I hate what Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists have done to perpetuate and encourage this mentality. Smart, bright and creative teams are driven into number chasing because they go down the wrong path.

I’m a firm believer in building up valuable and meaningful companies and products. Instead of hoping to sell your company to Google or some other monolithic corporation, that energy should be spent on perfecting your product and building a great team.

2. A Faster and Smarter Web

As someone who spends a majority of his life dealing with technology implementations, part of my livelihood revolves around the open source community, technology standards and making correct decisions about the technology we choose to adapt.

What Google is doing with Chrome is particularly exciting to me. Out of nowhere, they came in with a product that nearly demolishes everything I was previously using. Chrome has become my default browser of choice, its speed, user experience, interface and general stability is tremendous.

HTML 5 excites me a lot. I like to conceptually think on the more challenging side of what’s technically possible. Once browser adoption starts ramping up, HTML 5 has the potential to change the web landscape as we know it today. I’m not saying it’ll be an overnight transformation. But over time, with the right path and standards set in place, the next batch of core HTML can set up the web for semantic, media-heavy applications and object oriented development. This is is exactly where we need to be. The browsers need to start agreeing, Adobe needs to swallow its pride with Flash, and these platforms can converge. I am very optimistic about this space.

3. Contributing to the Open Source Community

Think Brilliant has developed some world-class technology over the last few years. We’ve been able to turn it into a marvelous development platform, and we pride ourselves on what we’re able to accomplish. Without the open source community none of this would be possible. I’m excited to organize a major push towards releasing anything we can back into the open source community.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I think this question can be summed up nicely by a quote from an article I just published over on the Think Brilliant site.

“The notion that this magical, all-encompassing idea will come along and make you rich is a complete farce. You have a much better chance at being “successful” (however you define success) – if you have good foresight, and focus on what’s important.

Rather than trying to invent a “make it big” idea, having good instincts, foresight and putting together a team that can execute has much greater value. If you spend time putting together a group of people than can actually deliver the goods, an idea becomes nothing more than a showcase for your talents. With the ability to execute, ideas become distilled down to their essence. This makes way for knowledge and communication.”

 

The article is titled “You Don’t Need a Big Idea, You Need a Great Team,” and can be found here http://bit.ly/bdXBMK.

What Challenges You Most On a Daily Basis?

Up until a few months ago, it was my email inbox. Then I got serious, setup a slew of powerful filters, simple redirects, and now it’s set to auto-everything. These days I only get the messages I want, when I want. I can mentally prepare myself for the more challenging emails, and allow myself time to balance before responding, digesting and generally doing business. It’s been a huge benefactor to my overall happiness… Taking control of your inbox is an often overlooked element, and an over-clocked email inbox can definitely be one of the highest stress inducers around.

In general, my biggest challenges are the most exciting ones as well. Hiring the right people is very difficult. It’s something I hope to get better at over time. Even the people I look up to most, who have been hiring and firing people for 50 years say that it’s an ongoing learning process. You never know everything there is to know about hiring employees or bringing people on board. It’s a delicate balance of intuition, instincts and calculated, intelligent decision making.

What is one mistake that you’ve made that our readers can learn from?

The Steve Jobs business mentality simply does not apply to everyday life… Period. Tons of entrepreneurs, leaders and bosses compare themselves to Steve Jobs and the way he runs Apple with an iron fist. He instills deep-rooted fear in his employees, and for him, it has worked. Jobs is known to yell at his employees, scream and curse until he gets what he wants. Undoubtedly he’s striving for ultimate perfection, but that approach towards running a company simply can’t be applied in the real-world.

If you’re going to take away some personality traits from Steve Jobs, take away his endless pursuit for an amazing user experience, the way he recruits and keeps the best talent in the world, and the way he innovates out of thin air. The way Jobs runs his company will not help you in your life. You are not running a multi-billion dollar corporation that pretty much invented the personal computer. You cannot talk to your employees the way Jobs talks to his… You can still be a firm boss and still lead your team all the way to the finish line. But when you hear about Jobs’ tyrannical rage around the Apple campus, simply remind yourself that he’s Steve Jobs… He can act that way… You can’t.

What is one idea that you’ve had that you’re willing to give away. What is it, and why is it a good idea?

Well, I’ve had thousands of ideas. I have ideas for new products and applications on a daily basis! However, the best idea I’ve ever had was in the structuring of our company and my team. Rather than investing tons of resources into raising Venture Capital funding and selling my soul to Silicon Valley, I’ve spent years trying to put together an amazing team of people. One of our recent hires has literally been a three-year courtship, so the way I see it, building out a talented and motivated team is way more important than any singular idea.

If you’ve got an amazing group of people working with you, nothing seems impossible. You can dream big, and actually deliver. So, a good idea that I’m willing to give away would be… “Invest in your team and your people, not any singular idea.”

Connect with me:

@avivhadar – Personal account

@soulpancake – SoulPancake.com: www.soulpancake.com

@thinkbrilliant – Think Brilliant: www.thinkbrilliant.com

@macblogz – MacBlogz: www.macblogz.com

SoulPancake: soulpancake.com/people/aviv

Personal Blog: avivhadar.com

Vimeo: vimeo.com/aviv

Flickr: flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/