Eric Rubin is the Chief Operating Officer of Spree3D. Eric has spent over 30 years in the technology industry. His expertise is in software sales and business development. He was an early mover in the cloud in 1999 with WebEx, and helped design some of the predominant BD models for SaaS partnerships. He has held leadership roles in a broad array of disciplines including; Cloud, APIs, CAD, Collaboration, and Middleware. Most recently he was founder and CEO of DreamFactory, an innovative API automation platform company that was privately acquired. Eric has passions for skiing, mountain biking, blues guitar and woodworking.
Where did the idea for Spree3D come from?
Spree3D started as a collaboration between Lisa Park, an international fashion designer, and Bob Davidson, the founder of Blizzard Entertainment (makers of World of Warcraft and other mega-hits). Their vision was to bring beautiful fashion to the masses by virtualizing fashion experiences. Our first app, MyDubble, allows users to wear digital fashion in fantastical scenes and generate fashion hero videos with their digital “dubble” in the starring role.
As a technology entrepreneur, our platform is mind-boggling- blending ML, 3D, CGI, and Apparel Virtualization into a single integrated pipeline. It is the most powerful “black box” that I have been a part of- face scan in, fantastical fashion hero video out! It’s truly unique and extremely agile. We can easily tune the pipeline to other types of hero videos starring your dubble. For example, we are starting to discuss Hyper Sports Hero Videos with franchises.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Although I have been virtual for a long time, my “typical” day has evolved since covid. I start early, as I have had international teams for most of my professional life. I try to do my free thinking and problem solving early in the morning as I have the fewest interruptions. My approach for teamwork is to script agendas for meetings and collaborate on this content in advance. This allows me to have shorter, more surgical meetings and not as many back-to-backs as I typically would have. Finally, I can take advantage of the flexibility of today’s work-life balance and sneak in a mountain bike ride to decompress.
How do you bring ideas to life?
This is a very important question in any organization but existential in startups. My approach is to create pitches for my ideas and sell them to internal stakeholders just as I would to an investor. I encourage my team members to do the same. The pitch is a living document, and feedback refines the idea into the scaffolding of an MRD (Market Requirements Document.) Once the idea coalesces, we run parallel tracks of business planning and user testing to understand the impact.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I value sustainability, and not surprisingly, our product has a significant sustainability component to it. Outside of our market, and as an engineer, one trend that I am very excited about is the advancement in energy storage and how that can dramatically change the energy landscape.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I spend a lot of upfront time in the planning phase identifying the few fundamental problems to solve for the success of the business. Once that’s nailed down, I internalize it with the team and have a laser focus on executing key success factors. As much as possible, I try to eliminate noise and mercurial guidance. I try to be very conscious of not wasting others’ time and asking for the same.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Build your network through value and cooperation, and don’t be shy about leveraging it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Truth is so 2000’s 😉
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Get data on your product or idea as fast as possible. Listen to the data and pivot if necessary. Fail as quickly as possible to pivot to a better opportunity. It is scary how long talented people can keep a bad idea alive.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve made the same mistakes that many, if not most entrepreneurs make- create a solution and then look for the problem. You overcome it by getting a signal as early as possible from real prospects and acting upon the data to pivot to a monetizable business.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I was WebEx’s first customer and one of their earliest employees. What I learned from that experience is that anything that connects people has a high potential for monetization with the additional benefits of a network effect. Zoom is an evolution of WebEx, which was an evolution of audio conferencing, which is an evolution of ma bell- all highly lucrative businesses. Social products (social networks and chat) are asynchronous versions of the same value- providing a social communication fabric that, in turn, generates a barrier to entry via the network effect. What’s the next disruption to connecting people? Or, on a smaller scale, what are communication opportunities tailored to a vertical?
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I purchased a 4 letter .io URL for $70 that I just sold for $7500.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I’ve been using Evernote forever, and I keep track of all meeting notes and strategy maps for crucial opportunities. Prior to any meeting or presentation, I review my notes to reorient myself so that I continually build on prior work products and advance the conversation past the last meeting.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The seminal business books I have read over the years are “The Innovator’s Dilemma” and “Crossing the Chasm.” A more modern take on some of these critical startup concepts is Chris Lochhead’s category planning series. I’m currently reading “The Category Design Toolkit.”
What is your favorite quote?
“That which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.”- Garth Stein, The art of racing in the rain.
- Focus on the fundamentals early in your career. It will save you from reversing a lot of bad habits.
- Don’t stand still. Constantly revise your plan, and if you have to pivot- do it fast.
- Experience often trumps IQ in determining success.
- Strive for balance.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.