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Meet Dave Andrews of Devious Media, Community 102, 360 Ecommerce Consulting

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dave Andrews.

Dave, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My career in the entertainment industry began when I interned at the MTV Beach House in Malibu California during the summer of 1996. I quickly became good friends with one of the show’s editors who offered me a job editing skateboard videos after I graduated. I was told I would be making $750 per week. I relocated to Los Angeles from the San Francisco Bay Area and was excited about the opportunity to become an editor.

Unfortunately, my contact suddenly became non-responsive and wasn’t returning my calls. I persisted and ended up getting a job as a Production Assistant (PA) on various movie and TV sets in Los Angeles, working insane hours. One of the projects I worked on was a kid’s TV show on ABC called “Disney’s One Saturday Morning”. I was a PA getting grilled non-stop by a British First Associate Director, who reminded me of Gordon Ramsey of “Hell’s Kitchen” fame. Never the less I was determined to succeed so I made sure I was the first one to arrive and the last one to leave the set.

After the project was completed one of the producers asked if I would like to work in the company’s offices as an assistant. The company was creating all kinds of cutting-edge animation at the time, including short-form interstitial programming like the series “School House Rock”. While at Disney, I learned the ins and outs of pushing the limits of what a computer could do from their team of incredible animators. We worked on after effects to motion capture animation, stop-motion animation, and created a virtual reality set using green screen technology.

Unfortunately, around this time the Pokémon craze became popular and it kicked our butts in the ratings. This also coincided with the development of the first internet bubble. I knew this was both a challenge and an opportunity. I began to search for organizations involved in this new area of entertainment and soon had offers from companies like Icebox.com and Pop.com. Icebox was not well known at the time and had no key players or personalities on board. Pop.com was associated with Steven Spielberg. While I would have preferred working with Pop.com, I ended up getting a better offer from Icebox.com, which also came with the unique title of “Producer of Experimental Online Entertainment”.

Icebox.com had assembled the best traditional animators in LA and taught them to use Flash Animation to tell stories digitally on the web. The animators and production team were extremely talented and well ahead of others in the industry in their knowledge of digital animation. They were so advanced that Macromedia (the creator of Flash) visited our offices on a regular basis to figure out how we were creating our content using their application.

One of the shows I produced for Icebox was “Mr. Wong.” It was written by the writer of the South Park movie. It received a great deal of attention due to its controversial theme and put Icebox.com on the map. Entertainment Weekly gave it an “A” rating in their review. Unfortunately, as with many early companies created during the first internet bubble, Icebox soon fell on hard times and was unable to raise the funds needed to continue in business.

Shortly after Icebox.com was shut down I was recruited by Sony Pictures to interview for two positions they had open. One was the Producer of Digital Content at the Game Show Network, a small cable network owned by Sony. The other was as a Producer of a collection of TV shows Sony owned with industry luminaries such as Pamela Anderson and Ricki Lake. Although I would have preferred to work on the projects associated with the Pamela Anderson group, Sony felt I was better suited for and could contribute more to the Game Show Network. They wanted me to do a full redesign of their website and make their shows available as online games. I was given complete control of digital content for the Game Show Network.

Six months into my new role managing content for the Game Show Network, Sony sold 50% of the company to Liberty Media. There was a new President and he brought along with him a Senior Vice President (SVP) of Digital Media. After the SVP got to know me and my capabilities, he tasked me with building up the digital department at GSN. By now I had developed a great many contacts within the industry and I was able to bring on board a team of highly talented people.

The SVP had a goal of creating true Interactive Television, which would enable the viewer to play along with the broadcast game shows in real time on their computer or digital set-top box. Viewers could get their names on TV, win prizes, and interact with the show’s advertisers. During the next six years we made the network 100% interactive, so anyone could play along with any show on the air at any time. We created over 50 shows and 15,000 hours of interactive content. Some of the shows we produced were “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire”, “Family Feud” and “The Match Game”.

We also developed skill-based games that people could play against each other to both win money online and become a contestant on the TV game show “Lingo”. Due to the quality of the work done by our talented team and partners, we were nominated for 4 Emmy Awards over a 3-year period. After many years of working incredibly closely with every department of the GSN organization, including affiliate sales, operations, legal, marketing, ad sales, human resources, and research, I decided the time was right to move on and start my own company.

I started Devious Media in 2007. I wanted to create an agency that was very boutique. My methodology was to examine the problems my clients have and then determine how to solve them using the right combination of technology and vendor resources. This philosophy grew from my experience working with agencies which billed for a developer to do the analytics. I prefer engaging specialists that have a passion for what they do and who apply their skills to resolve customer issues. Fortunately, unlike other agencies, I have never had to solicit jobs for Devious Media.

100% of my business is due to referrals from friends and colleagues. My clients consist of companies ranging from Fortune 50’s to small startups. Even if a company doesn’t have a budget, I still try to help them, especially if they are pursuing their passion and putting in the required sweat equity. I think of this as paying it forward. I believe in karma and that what you put out comes back around, which it typically has in one form or another.

My first client was Sony Pictures Television International. They have TV networks all over the globe and are 5 times the size of ESPN. The head of Global Ad Sales was put in charge of digital to figure out what needed to be done on a global scale. He hired Devious Media to develop a digital strategy for Sony Pictures Television International. He and I flew around the world auditing their operations and examining what each region was doing.

We determined what was successful in each region and how we could replicate this in the others while containing costs. I developed a strategy to build a “common platform” using Drupal and several other technologies that could scale. This resulted in us building the common platform and launching a new TV network website in under two weeks. The structure of the website could accommodate any brand, in any language and would be comparable to websites at NBC, ABC, or CBS. We standardize the advertising, so an ad could be seen across all of their sites in the local language. We launched 60 sites in over 25 languages across 8 brands during the first year.

I then helped build a team to manage and operate the platform until Sony could increase their internal headcount and take over the operations. While working on the project I suggested they build communities and promote them, so viewers could interact with one another online. Sony recognized that the communities needed to be moderated and asked if I would do this for them. This resulted in me starting Community 102, a social media moderation company with Sony Pictures Television as my first client.

After a few years, Community 102 grew from moderating countless communities in different languages for Sony to managing tier one support on social media for companies like Seagate. We moderate user-generated content clearance for major brands. We also assist e-commerce companies with customer support. Companies typically contact us to figure out how to protect their brand from spammers, hate speech, trolls, and other negative elements on the internet. We create plans based on the client’s budget, risk, and objectives. We provide this service 24/7, in any language and on any platform.

Because of my success with Devious Media and Community 102, It was recommended that I meet with the owners of a brand called “Old Guys Rule”. Old Guys Rule wanted to grow their brand digitally and associate a lifestyle with the brand. After numerous meetings with the Old Guys Rule, we determined that I should obtain the digital rights to the brand. I did this and started another company named “360 Ecommerce Consulting”. The objective of this new venture was not only to manage Old Guys Rule, but also to focus on the entire e-commerce development lifecycle, from the initial concept to operations, marketing, advertising, support, fulfillment, and customer support.

There are many companies that build e-commerce sites, but few which understand what it actually takes to execute the day to day operations of the site. Over the past few years, we have expanded Old Guys Rule across multiple sales channels like Amazon and eBay. This strategy increased the company’s revenues well beyond the Old Guys Rule’s expectations. We also helped create unique partnerships with companies like Bottlekeeper, increasing their sales to become one of the hottest products on the Old Guys Rule site.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
If the work I do and the companies I have created were easy, then everyone would be doing it. There were constant challenges and struggles along the way. When you work digitally there will always be tech issues, scope creep, and other unanticipated obstacles.

The skill and experience I gained have helped me in determining how to go through, over or around these. As an entrepreneur, I have had many failures on many different levels.

However, I believe in learning from your failures and making sure you don’t repeat them. I have also learned from my successes and try to replicate what has worked. An example of this is when my partners from Argentina and I created a casting platform for Endemol.

As part of the deal, we agreed that our company would own the code. We ended up building out the code in the model of a software-as-a-service platform called “White Label Casting”. The platform works great and is incredibly powerful, however, we encountered a challenging problem. I determined that the size of our addressable market was smaller than originally thought. This was because most organizations doing casting did not want to change their current workflow, which often involved paper and binders.

At the end of the day, we ended up selling the platform to a large religious organization which was doing their own production work. This helped us to recoup our losses and move on. The lesson I learned from this is that you have to be flexible enough to pivot with anything you are working on to mitigate failure as best as possible.

Please tell us about Devious Media, Community 102, 360 Ecommerce Consulting.
Devious Media has a reputation for being a digital consulting firm which works with large to medium-sized companies. People hire us to help them figure out what they should be doing in the digital space with their brand. We address challenges involving e-commerce, digital media buying, development, operations, and others. We employ a team of over 100 developers that can build anything on any platform. I am proud of the variety of projects we have done and the ability to help new entrepreneurs as well as traditional companies to figure out their digital strategies.

Community 102 helps clients moderate their social media, clear user-generated content, and provide customer support to e-commerce companies. I am proud of how this company provides a unique service for a specific need which has developed due to advances and changes in the social media environment. I am also proud that we employ stay-at-home moms and provide them with a lifestyle that is flexible while enabling them to earn some additional income.

360 E-commerce Consulting is a company that specializes in e-commerce strategy, operations, product development, and support. We develop new e-commerce companies from the ground up to sell on a variety of platforms globally. I am proud of the growth in sales and brand awareness which we have created for Old Guys Rule.

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