Grant Powell is a one-of-a-kind digital innovator who possesses a unique ability to combine creativity, logic, engineering and business savvy to conceptualize viable approaches to new world demands. There are few who can contend with Grant’s two decades of leadership and expertise in digital brand strategy, digital advertising, user experience and user interface design, mobile application development, startup innovation and blockchain programming; he has produced over 1,000 digital ad campaign concepts for Fortune500 brands, as well as over 300 websites and applications, and has been a founding member of several startups including Curiously and YouPawn.
Grant cut his teeth in digital advertising at Google, and left to form the digital agency Pomegranate in 2008, where he fathered the concept of the “network agency” model – a new way of organizing talent and servicing enterprise brands. In 2015, Pomegranate and DBOX partnered up to create DBOX Digital, which is now known as PWLL. Grant boasts notoriety in developing the first live streaming concerts on YouTube (for U2, Coachella, Alicia Keys, and more), the first application to integrate with Spotify’s web API, and the first ever peer-to-peer secured lending platform.
Along the way, Grant has been a founding member of two well-known bands (Lifehouse and Dawes) and has been a modern-day renaissance man with his ever-changing list of hobbies from equestrian training, shipwreck SCUBA diving, teaching kids how to skateboard, running Marathons and traveling to more than two dozen different countries. Grant’s latest hobby is numismatics (coin collecting), which is, naturally, growing into a business of its own under Powell Coins.
What are you working on right now?
We have many spinning plates. Everything from developing innovative social media platforms such as Engage.me to curating international creative talent to building enterprise brands for our clients. We are very excited to welcome our two newest clients to the team: Collective and InternetPawn.com – Most of our clients are either looking for help with creative branding and messaging or help reaching their audience through innovative marketing efforts and killer creative, and that’s where we excel. It’s very exciting to be given the opportunity to do what other people are only talking about doing.
3 Trends that excite you?
1) The Evolution of Social Media – Social media is rapidly evolving to become a communication tool that is as evolved as human communication itself. Social media has penetrated virtually every market, and real-time engagement is a rapidly growing concept across the board for content development and advertising alike. It’s exciting to see cutting edge communication and marketing strategies come to life through social media.
2) Crowd Sourcing – It’s exciting to see technology evolve to facilitate real-time collaboration across large distances. However, I believe that crowd sourcing needs to become more of what I would call “cloud sourcing.” As with cloud computing networks,
each node of creative talent should know what the other node is working on so that there are not duplication of efforts, and so that creative ideas can be built on and evolved as it may pass from creative mind to creative mind. This is contrary to what some people practice with crowd sourcing where they submit an idea to a hundred people, and each of these people return a different response to the requester. There is no cross-pollinating.
3) Network Agencies – The “network agency” trend like our Freelance is Dead™ movement is a forward-thinking solution to a lot of the issues faced by traditional agencies and staffing agencies. Every day, I see the concept becoming more mainstream as an increasing number agencies and clients realize the need for change. In 2011, we’re launching a forum for sharing ideas and collaborating on the evolution of advertising agencies. We’re calling it, “Future of Agencies.” We’re excited to open up a dialogue with other agencies and work together to change the industry by further evolving the network agency model.
How do you bring ideas to life?
You may remember the movie, “What About Bob?” with Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus. It’s a great movie. Richard Dreyfus’s character introduces the concept of “baby steps.” I believe strongly that it’s about progress, not perfection. Have a big goal in mind, but get there one step at a time, and make sure you’re making some progress every day.
At Pomegranate, everything begins with conversation. Conversation leads to an idea which leads to a brainstorm with our key creative personnel. From there it evolves through killer media production and then seeding, and nurturing the concept as it grows. We call it “Seeding Ideas”®.
What is one mistake that you made, and what did you learn from it?
Most of my mistakes are from not following through on execution, being afraid of being wrong and wasting time and money on an idea. The reality is that nine out of ten ideas will not succeed, but you should invest in all ten of them with full conviction because the one that works out will probably be so successful that it will make up for the other nine that cost you time and money.
I learned to fail fast. If you have a good idea, move fast, and if it ends up being a bad idea, fail fast.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Collaborate and share equity. A one-man company is weak. The sum is greater than the parts. It’s better to have a small piece of something really successful than a large piece of something useless… so don’t hoard your equity so much, share a little. Pomegranate was built on that premise. Everyone in our network has a vested interest.
And also, remember that it’s not the good idea that will bring you success, it’s developing the ability to execute on it.
What inspires you to push forward with new ideas?
Progress and innovation inspire me, and the possibility of improving something in need of repair is what keeps me pushing forward. I want to make the world a better place by building sustainable infrastructures that reward talent and hard work– infrastructures that aren’t dominated by over-paid executives. It’s important to me to create an environment that inspires free creativity, while also offering security and ultimately creating value for everyone involved.
How do you balance work and life?
That’s a tough one. I haven’t always been able to do so, but I’m getting better at it. It’s really a matter of reminding yourself that the reason we work so hard to see our ideas come to life is so that we can enjoy other things in life like food, friends and nature. Then, simply schedule that time into your life the same way you would schedule a business meeting and give it the same importance.