Matthew Watson

A strategy should be built around what your team and partners can do, and your partners need, not simply the market potential.


As an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver BC, Matthew Watson worked his way through by waiting tables at a local food establishment. Many of the principles and ethics that he learned at that time have carried through to his current business including, what you say is important, never judge a person by their first impression and focus on the person in front of you. He continued his education by obtaining a law degree from the University of British Columbia Law school and went on to practice at a large national law firm in corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions. Matthew was a vigilant observer of his surroundings, and he always paid attention to companies, people, and transactions. He learned what businesses were successful and those businesses that struggled. His experience as a lawyer provided him with the foundational business knowledge he would take with him in the future as a business executive and entrepreneur.

Matthew Watson was offered an executive position with a client which was a digital imaging software start up called ACD Systems, makers of ACDSee. Matthew helped grow the new company from start-up to $25 million in revenue with a 150-million-dollar market cap after it went public. He followed this success as he joined Carmanah Technologies, a solar LED company as Chief Operating Officer. Matthew helped bring the company from a 6-million-dollar company to a 63-million-dollar company with 150 million market cap after it went public.

SendtoNews was a business idea presented to Matthew by a colleague at the LED business went public. At the time, although he was already committed to developing his own new business start up, Matthew helped the founder of SendtoNews and his friend develop a business plan and team to take the company forward. The founder turned to Matthew for his knowledge in forming new companies and commercializing technology. Matthew Watson proceeded to plan new business strategies and put a technical team together for the business to move forward.
He took a very natural step into his own business with friends and colleagues. ArmorLogic built the first virtual web application firewall. The company grew and was eventually purchased by a much larger online enterprise security company. Matthew stayed with the company through the transaction process. When he completed the transition process, at the request of the founder and board, he turned his attention back to SendtoNews.

Matthew Watson creates a whirlwind of productivity no matter where he goes. He exhibits a masterful ability to develop win-win relationship-building partnerships to the benefit of all.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

The idea for the company came from our founder who was a newsroom employee. He recognized the difficulty that journalists and publishers had in sending video to the newsroom. His idea was to give everyone the opportunity to compete in the digital world. He wanted a platform that could be used online. If we could create such a platform, it would make it possible for anyone in publishing to be able to transfer video to a newsroom easily and display it to end users. The “broadcasting business was no longer limited to the television industry.

What attracted me to return to the company was the opportunity to make a positive impact on a company with a good idea but that was struggling to grow. The company had begun to stall with its business model. The majority of my success and expertise has been in creating teams and strategies for growing companies. I knew the potential of the company. I was offered the position first as executive chairman and subsequently as CEO of SendtoNews. I was excited about the opportunity to grow the business. We have created a win-win situation for the company and all of our partners. As a result, we have achieved our goal of being the number one sports video platform in North America.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I start my day very early. A large portion of our business activity is on the east coast, and I am on the west coast. I usually start my workday at home. I also travel a lot for business. In fact, many weeks my typical workday is to start my day in a hotel room and not return there until late at night. My travel days are spent in meetings collaborating with business partners on the best ways to grow their business and ours.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I usually start by noodling the idea around with domain experts. Once I’ve done my research and consulted our team, if it has substance, we will make it a priority. We will do the planning and get to work on it. I love the Walt Disney quote that the way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. However, I also believe in “ready, aim fire” as the way to hit the target.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Brand safety in advertising. With some digital platforms, advertisers don’t know where their ads are playing, and who or what their brands are being associated with. SendtoNews operates with full transparency. Advertisers are assured that they are going to be associated with brand-safe content on premium sports websites. That is one of the most significant drivers of all of our growth. We were not looking for quick money. We focused on quality and the long game, and it has really paid off.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I make a to-do list before I go to bed. It allows me to sleep well and wake up raring to go. Sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night to add to my to do list but then wake up hours later wondering why I thought that was so important. I set my priorities when I see them in the light of day.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell young Matthew Watson to take bigger risks earlier. I grew up in a small town and didn’t really know what the opportunities were out there. Kids everywhere now have the internet to shows what’s out there. The access to that information has its pros and cons to it, but it allows people to see what is possible. I spent 10 or 12 years to find out what fun participating in business really is, especially in tech. Therefore, I would definitely tell younger Matthew Watson to explore that earlier.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I don’t think that way. I don’t keep score. I think about the learning you get from disagreements. I can’t remember disagreements. I only remember the resolutions and decisions that came out of disagreement so I have no other answer to this question.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

The to-do list! I think that making a list and prioritizing it on a daily basis gives you the necessary focus for you to succeed and to help others succeed.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

What helped us was becoming “Partnerrific.” We partnered with people who were already doing well. A good example is our sales partners. Instead of calling on every brand and agency ourselves, we went to the sports broadcasters and sports repping agencies who already had massive amounts of customers but were in need of digital video offerings or digital video impressions. Instead of competing with them for advertiser dollars, we provided them with the video content and impressions required to grow their business and for their success which also made us successful. We also did this with our publishers – building our tech right into their workflow as well as optimizing the user experience to help grow their audience without any cost to them.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

In a former company, we used to launch a new product every six months. Each new product would also be in a new market vertical so it would be almost like launching a new business every six months. We addressed a succession of market verticals. We initially used a cookie-cutter approach to go to market and would try to go direct to customer each time. I think your route to market and your channel to your customers are often the most important decisions a company makes. We stumbled because each of the different markets did business in a very different way. Rather than wanting to buy from manufacturers, the customers often wanted to buy from installation companies or distributors or local repping companies. The channel would also influence the product and the marketing collateral, and how we fulfilled the orders. For example, if we were selling through an installer, we had to include that in the marketing material and allow them to include their branding etc.

We resolved the issue after we did a lot of research as a group to find the right route to market. We partnered with several different industries, and that worked out much better. We would stall a launch until we selected the right route to market and, where needed, the right partners for the right route to market. Once we figured that out, and the concomitant marketing collateral, fulfillment (ex. online or in-direct), it made all the difference.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I think that with the demographic changes (i.e. aging of the population generally) in a lot of area of North America, there is a need to protect seniors from email and telephone scams. Create an easy to use app that allows them not only to block callers but to record and report for investigation calls and emails that they receive. We can buy the app/service for our parents, install it on their phones to allow them to report attempted scams or anything they are suspicious about against a central repository of known scams or similar.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

It was my $20 Bluetooth Converter Jack. I can use it anywhere and even with much older audio older technology.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Video conferencing. We have a distributed team. We are all over the place. We use Google hangouts, skype, and zoom. It allows for convenient and easy sharing of images, documents or videos. It helps productivity in the connection of face to face. It provides a better understanding when seeing people’s reactions to what you are presenting. It covers a collaborative aspect of the business.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Steve Jobs biography. It allows you insight into a great entrepreneur, faults and all which is also somehow very reassuring. So, an obviously very smart person, but with a relatively haphazard educational background and work experience, and some quirks in their personality, can through hard work and persistence, create a great team and business.

What is your favorite quote?

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”.

Key learnings:

• I have genuine love and passion for growing teams and business
• I believe that SendtoNews is helping others thrive in the Digital Age
• SendtoNews is just getting started
• A strategy should be built around what your team and partners can do, and your partners need, not simply the market potential.