Nathan Leggatt – Founder of EmmaActive Advertising

[quote style=”boxed”]Seeing young entrepreneurs dream up an idea and see it come to life. Even when they fail, it’s great to see people chase a dream and see something tangible come to life.[/quote]

Since starting his first business in 1998, Nathan Leggatt has become one of the most sought-after Internet Application developers in British Columbia. Before starting his newest innovation, EmmaActive, Nathan successfully built his online web application business from a local start-up to one that has completed projects for clients internationally. With high standards in quality and training, Nathan has excelled in creating innovative and dynamic new platforms for change in growth in Web development and applications.

Nathan Leggatt  has a passion for building relationships, looking for ways to make technology relevant to our daily needs without getting the way and mentoring. He likes to collect fine wines and spend time with his family.

What are you working on right now?

With web development technology moving so rapidly, it has not only been an exciting time for new ideas but also a difficult time to focus on just one idea. However, I truly feel that the time has come to change our thinking about how advertising is integrated into the online experience. For too long, advertising has been stagnate and ineffective. My newest venture, EmmaActive, is setting out to change that and make finding and connecting products to consumers more interactive and relevant. Having said that, right now I’m trying to juggle a number of different roles; from product management to legal and accounting. As a founder, the day tasks of starting a business like EmmaActive can be overwhelming. Tomorrow, we are starting our next round of financing, which we believe will allow EmmaActive to take centre stage as the premier embedded advertising solution for online photography and images. We are also looking forward to releasing a mobile version of our EmmaActive software, which means yet another thing added to my daily plate of things I need to think about on a daily basis.

What does your typical day look like?

A typical day for me starts at about 7:30am. Usually I log-on to the servers and check how many new EmmaActive users have registered. Seeing the numbers steadily grow is a welcome encouragement at the start of the day. The next part of the morning is spent communicating with website owners who have added the EmmaActive Interface to their site. We really want to make sure site owners feel they are looked after – and staying active in communicating on a daily basis is part of our commitment to our business plan. We want our members to feel they are individually important as well as part of a team all working together! The more successfully we can create a great experience for our members, the more success EmmaActive will experience which will then mean more success for our site owners. It’s very “circle of life”. We strongly feel that great customer experiences are the hallmark of a great company. Without it, you won’t be able to create any momentum. Intermixed in the afternoon are meetings with advisors, software enhancements and team meetings where we respond to user feedback and evaluate how our beta is going. Late afternoon and evenings are a mix of proposal writing, budgeting, and a bit of programming.

3 trends that excite you?

– Embedded image advertising

– Augmented reality

– HTML 5.0

How do you bring ideas to life?

Bringing ideas to life is an enormous task. The first step is to be passionate about your idea, but to also be willing to take feedback. I remember when I thought up the concept for EmmaActive. I couldn’t sleep at all that night. The next day a few friends and I were sitting around a camp fire and, as I bounced the idea off them, It became quickly apparent that we were on to something. So the second step was to assemble a team of people who could bring the vision to life. If your idea is a good one, it shouldn’t be a huge challenge to get people to help. The real challenge is getting the “right” people to help. That, to me, is always one of the most difficult parts of bringing ideas to life. As Jim Collins says, you need to have the right people on the bus in the right seats.

From there, it’s really hard work and dedication.

On a side note it is very important to have a great support network, especially at home if you’re married. I have been very fortunate to have a wife that supports my crazy endeavours and truly believes in me. Long days, nights and weekends away can be hard enough. Knowing that your family is behind you the whole way makes it much easier.

What inspires you?

Seeing young entrepreneurs dream up an idea and see it come to life. Even when they fail, it’s great to see people chase a dream and see something tangible come to life. For EmmaActive, I get excited when people make the connection that this really is something they need.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

We should have met with lawyers and accountants as soon as we decided to setup the company. We waited until we had funding before solidifying a lot of the details and it created more work to set things up the way they needed to be. When you’re at the beginning stages you have a lot more time to put towards doing it right. You don’t want to be correcting things later especially when you’re in the middle of raising capital!

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

Someone really should create a system that uses voice recognition to pull up information, on a monitor or a HUD, about the person that is talking. What would be cool is if the person mentioned someone else’s name, the system would be smart enough to pull in additional information about that person. Imagine being able to instantly know where you met the person, what trips they just returned from, their wife’s name, and what grade their kids are in! If it doesn’t already exist, I’m telling you, I’d buy it!

What do you read every day, and why?

TechCrunch and Springwise are a great way to keep up with developments in the design, business and technical world. It’s also a great way to get to know your prospects and other businesses that are in a similar field. TechCrunch is great because it let’s you see the successes and failures all in one place.

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

I really do like “From Good to Great” by Jim Collins. I love how the book encourages managers to think outside the box in all facets of growing a business. The writer challenges readers to abandon typical leadership strategies and instead adopt methodologies that are often misunderstood or challenge the status-quo of traditional systems. It’s a calculated strategic approach to business growth. My favorite part of the book is where Collins refers to the school bus, “It’s about having the right people on the bus in the right seats!” How useful is the bus if the bus driver is in a seat at the back. I knew a company that had a very smart engineer working as a scrap collector because he was from another country and his qualifications didn’t transfer to Canada. After a number of years someone approached the man and discovered how decorated he was in his field. The company eventually paid him to take transfer courses to get his designation in Canada. He is now the lead engineer for the entire corporation and oversees all of their projects.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

That’s easy: iPhone 4! It doesn’t really matter what device though. The simple fact that we can have connectivity everywhere we go is pretty exciting. I can stay in touch with my customers, team, investors no matter where I am. I don’t think I could function without my phone with me. I remember having one of the original Palm Pilots – Wow. How times have changed.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Richard Branson. His constant pushing of the frontiers of human endeavors is always inspiring to me.

What is so exciting about EmmaActive?

The real power of EmmaActive is the ability to answer the question, “where do I get that?” Every day we see thousands of product placements within images and other media but the connection between the product and the merchant/brand is lost. EmmaActive allows people to leverage the crowd to promote brands through a trusted referral system and rewards users who participate in the process. Best of all, the system can be embedded on any site and any image can become taggable. The far reaching implications of this technology is enormous. Now every image can literally be a store-front!

What do you like to do for fun?

I have a boat and love to wakeboard in the winter. We have dry suits that keep us warm and there’s nothing like being on an empty lake in December, snow on the mountains, the smooth water and the crisp air against your face. I find that wake-boarding is a good escape from technology and allows me to clear my mind – after all, the iPhone isn’t water proof yet!


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