Innovators. They come in many forms. They dream big but they aren’t just dreamers. They form raw ideas into cool products with disruptive business models. They shatter entire industries and leave established leviathans running scared with their tails between their legs. The Innovators interview series connects you with the most driven people on the planet. What makes them tick? What advice do they have for tech founders? What tools do they use to get the job done? Read on to find out.
David Marks is the CEO and Founder of StatMilk, a sports analytics platform that delivers a visually compelling way for fans, publishers and sports organizations to consume and interact with sports statistics.
David has over 15 years of experience in software development, information architecture, and user experience design. Most recently in the role of Senior Architect at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Marks served as a key architect in the re-platforming, consolidation, and modernization of systems and software in support of the $4 billion acquisition of ChoicePoint, Inc. by Reed Elsevier (parent company of LexisNexis). Earlier in his career at LexisNexis (formerly Seisint Inc.) Marks was responsible for design, development and support of a billing platform that handles in excess of $1 billion per year in revenue. While at Seisint he also developed a proprietary web spider framework used in the identification and acquisition of public records data for inclusion in industry-leading product offerings.
David has held a variety of consulting positions in both startups and large corporations, and began his career at Digitas LLC where he delivered web-based solutions for industry-leading firms and Fortune 500 clients.
What do you enjoy most about your work and why?
The opportunity to innovate – without a doubt. Developing creative solutions to challenging problems is an aspect of work I have always enjoyed and StatMilk has no shortage of opportunities. From the beginning, the goal was to deliver a platform that would give fans the capability to slice and dice sports data in real-time, presenting statistics and visualizations in a fun and engaging way, all the time remaining friendly enough for users all of skill levels to use. The challenges ranged from data asset management and performance all the way through to user-experience design. While frustrating at times, every problem has a solution and the process of discovering it can be a lot of fun.
Where does your passion come from? What drives you, inspires you, excites you?
Emotional sources of motivation are said to be the most powerful, and for me it comes down a balance of excitement and fear.
Excitement is an excellent motivator, and it keeps me working late at night, pushing to see a new feature or concept materialize. In some instances ideas, events, and goals are so powerful I can feel the excitement coursing through my veins – this is when I know I’m onto something special. Work comes naturally at times like these.
Fear is another powerful motivator, and I draw on it when life is intruding on progress, problems are stubborn to solutions, and things are downright frustrating. It’s easy to find excuses to give up, but the fear of looking back, be it one year or forty years from now, and having missed an opportunity because I was lazy, tired, or frustrated gives me the motivation to stay on task.
Someone reading this wants to start a tech company. What’s your best advice for them?
Get to work and remain focused. Indecision and distraction are two major threats to your productivity when building a technology company. You must be decisive – gather information, make decisions and move forward. Open, seemingly small issues can quickly bond into quicksand that will drag your progress down.
Great execution is as important as the quality of your idea. You witness this firsthand everyday with “copycat companies” that take a good idea and out-execute those that were first to market. Pay attention to details!
Stop making excuses. There 20 people in the world right now with your same idea and excuses will be the difference in who executes and ships.
What are a few tech startups that you’re really excited about right now and why?
Square, based on the sheer magnitude of attempting to change the payments landscape. Carrying around cash, coins and debit cards just feels antiquated and the market opportunity is tremendous.
Kickstarter (and other crowdsourcing platforms) are exciting in the opportunities they are creating for everyday individuals. Post your story, upload a video, sit back and watch market validation in near real-time. After a week you either have $100,000 or you’re onto your next idea.
What tech tools (websites, apps, gadgets, etc.) do you rely on both for work and in your down time?
Techmeme and Hacker News are two of my favorite sites for staying on top of the latest developments in the startup, technology, and science world. For more creative inspiration I visit Dribbble where designers share portions of the designs and applications they are working on.