Interview With Devo Harris
Describe your product or service and the problem it's solving:
“Adventr is the world's most advanced video streaming technology company. Our cloud-based software seamlessly integrates web capabilities into videos at scale, offering an intuitive drag-and-drop platform for effortless content creation. With our patented AI audio technology, SmartListen, viewers can interact with videos like never before, accessing web pages, making purchases, initiating calls or texts, and operating software directly from the video interface. Adventr users achieve exceptional results, with up to 13x higher engagement and conversion rates compared to basic video advertisements.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“Over a decade ago, I created the first interactive choose-your-own-adventure music video, ‘Attack of the Five Foot Hipster.’ The response was incredible - viewers loved being part of the experience, and it transformed how they enjoyed the music. This sparked my passion for interactivity in media. Major companies noticed, and soon I began developing tools and envisioning a future where audiences play a vital role in the creative process. I'm on a mission to push the boundaries of music and media, sparking conversations and shaping a future of personalized and connected experiences.”
How is your startup funded, and what advice do you have for other founders seeking funding?
“Adventr's success in powering immersive experiences for top global brands has earned remarkable support, including a $5 million seed funding round led by Paladin Capital, Reinventure Capital, In/Visible Ventures, and EGOT-winner John Legend. Recent customers like Twitter, Disney, 23andMe, Autodesk, LVMH, Shopify, Lexus, and Chevy highlight Adventr's ability to deliver seamless and engaging interactive experiences.
For fellow founders, my advice is simple: don't let others' perceptions define you. Trust in your vision and the value you bring. Stay resilient, no matter the challenges you face along the way.”
How big is your team, and what qualities do you look for when hiring new employees?
“Adventr is right around 10 employees and we are actively hiring. When it comes to qualities I look for in an employee, there are several key aspects - First and foremost, proven experience in generating breakthrough creative concepts, particularly in the realm of video, is highly valued. A strong understanding of brand storytelling, growth marketing, SEO, and social media marketing is crucial for driving our company's success in today's competitive landscape.
Experience with startups and an adaptable ‘Roll up your sleeves’ attitude is key. It reflects a willingness to tackle challenges head-on and contribute proactively to our dynamic team.”
Who is your target market? How did you determine this, and what strategies did you use to reach and engage them?
“Adventr was created for every creator. From the Fortune 100 to up-and-coming filmmakers and game makers, users can simply upload their assets through Adventr, and with just a tap, activate SmartListen for voice interaction.
The future of content and media WILL be interactive. With Meta and other VR companies investing heavily in interactive media, how can we make sure this technology is not only reserved for the big players? We believe that the next generation of interactive, connected media should be accessible to everyone.”
Feeling inspired? Learn how to launch your company with our guide on how to start a startup.
What do you consider to be your company's biggest competitive advantage, and how do you maintain it?
“Adventr stands out by creating more engaging and connected video experiences, seamlessly integrating the full power of the web into a scalable platform. We act as a bridge between media and software, enabling innovative human-computer interaction.
To maintain our edge, we prioritize continuous innovation and heavily invest in research and development. Our expert team stays ahead of emerging technologies, ensuring our solutions are cutting-edge. We actively seek feedback from users and clients to meet their evolving needs. By staying nimble and adaptable, we can respond swiftly to market dynamics and customer requirements.”
What were the biggest challenges you faced in the early stages of building your startup, and how did you overcome them?
“For over ten years, I worked hard to secure funding for our company. One of our biggest challenges was convincing investors about the uniqueness of our platform and the strength of our team. Educating people about our new format and how to use our tool effectively was also tough. Our elevator pitch highlighted our cloud-based platform, enabling creators to build interactive, immersive, and data-rich experiences with unparalleled engagement. Despite facing difficulties conveying our visual offering in meetings, we kept going and eventually secured term sheets from Paladin Capital, a great partner from DC. Their genuine interest and persistence led to a successful fundraising partnership after meeting around 140 investors.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“Entrepreneurship has taught me how deeply ingrained some investors' preconceived notions and biases can be. Despite brushing off warnings about being perceived as different and unique, I faced challenges when raising funds. Investors made assumptions based on factors like my background or appearance, which made it difficult to connect with them on a genuine level. Some even suggested, to my clearly Black self, we should have a white CEO for better fundraising prospects. These experiences underscored the need for greater diversity and awareness in the investment landscape. Nonetheless, I remain committed to challenging biases and driving change in the entrepreneurial world.”
What is your #1 piece of advice for startup founders?
“First and foremost, embrace your creativity and dare to think outside the box. The media landscape is constantly evolving, and to create something truly cutting-edge, you need to push the boundaries and explore new ideas. Don't be afraid to take risks and experiment with unconventional approaches. It's through this spirit of innovation that groundbreaking content is born.
Another key aspect is understanding your audience inside out. Take the time to deeply comprehend their preferences, interests, and behaviors. This understanding will enable you to tailor your product and content in a way that resonates with them on a personal level. By connecting with your audience in a meaningful way, you can create impactful and engaging experiences that leave a lasting impression.”