[quote style=”boxed”]I get in very early. With 40 employees the days quickly get packed with meetings, etc. When I come in, I sit down at my desk and try to get at least 3 hours of uninterrupted work done. I am a huge believer in ‘flow’ and if I don’t have the time to get into my head every day and think, I become grumpy. Just ask my wife.[/quote]
Gregg Spiridellis co-founded JibJab with his brother Evan in 1999, back in an era when it was cool to reject lucrative job post-MBA job opportunities to purse dot com glory. Five years later, Gregg and his brother achieved “overnight success” when their election parody of George Bush and John Kerry singing ‘This Land is Your Land’ became a global sensation, leading Peter Jennings to name the brothers ‘People of the Year’.
Since then, Gregg and Evan have established JibJab as a leading innovator in online entertainment, not only for their viral satires, but also for their ecards and personalized entertainment product, Starring You®. Today, JibJab is backed by Polaris Venture Partners, Overbrook Entertainment, Sony Pictures, and 40 artists, technologists and business people work hard to reinvent the way entertainment is created, produced, and distributed in a digital world. Prior to JibJab, Gregg worked for investment banks Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns and got his MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
What are you working on right now?
JibJab is on an invention tear! We are gearing up to launch new brands and new products on new platforms – all while supporting and growing our existing JibJab.com product offering! It’s a fun and exciting time for the company.
What does your typical day look like?
I get in very early. With 40 employees the days quickly get packed with meetings, etc. When I come in, I sit down at my desk and try to get at least 3 hours of uninterrupted work done. I am a huge believer in ‘flow’ and if I don’t have the time to get into my head every day and think, I become grumpy. Just ask my wife.
3 trends that excite you?
Social continues to be a game changer, not only in terms of distribution, but also in terms of the creative storytelling possibilities. Mobile and tablet devices are also very exciting and occupying more and more of my thinking.
How do you bring ideas to life?
At the macro level I work very close with my brother to explore which of the millions of ideas that are floating around our heads are worth pursuing. Once we have made a decision to pursue an area, I will usually do very high-level mockups or a write up about the idea and share it with our lead design and technical execs. From there, the ideas morph and get better as team works to develop the concept into a fully realized product. Our team is awesome.
What inspires you?
The people I work with inspire me the most. My brother is a master at his craft of art and animation, has amazing instincts and perspective on so many other aspects of what we do. In addition, his constant drive to keep producing and innovating inspires me everyday. We have great team in place of honest, smart, hungry, passionate and creative people who create and execute opportunities.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
The mistake I have made the most is to overcomplicate concepts. Hone in on the core value proposition and strip everything that does not support it out of your product and execution thinking. Jim Henson used to urge his teammates to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). I wish I learned that lesson a lot sooner in my professional life.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
High quality food trucks. Now that twitter exists, I think the market is finally ripe for them. What? They exist already? Dang it!
What do you read every day? Why?
Fred Wilson is the very first read on my very full Google Reader every day. He has great instincts and perspective on big trends. I love Andrew Chen’s blog as well. He’s a less frequent poster than Fred Wilson but when he writes, it’s worth reading.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
I’ll give you two, because that’s how generous I am. J “Orbiting the Giant Hairball” by Gordon MacKenzie and “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles” by Steven Pressfield.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
My iPhone. My iPad. My Macbook Air. (Notice a trend here?)
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
John Lasseter from Pixar.
What’s your number one piece of advice for entrepreneurs?
Find a great partner with complimentary skill sets when you start your business. My brother and I were able to accomplish so much with very little in terms of resources because we each had skills that covered a broad spectrum of things with very little overlap. I would also advise entrepreneurs to figure out some way to use the skills they have to make money as early as possible in the life of the venture even if it is not the core business. For example, JibJab always did a small amount of agency work to pay the bills, even though the vision was to build an original entertainment brand. Having some cash flow enabled us to keep chipping away at the dream and stay in control of our destiny.
What the on thing you wish you could erase from your past?
My mullet hair cut in high school but hey, it was 1989 and I lived in New Jersey, so it wasn’t my fault.
[box size=”small” border=”full”]This interview was brought to you by Rohit Jain who works in business development. You can follow Rohit via his blog and on Twitter. [/box]
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.