“I believe that ‘drive’ already exists within every entrepreneur” with Chris Roebuck and Fotis Georgiadis

Starting a company is never easy. As someone who’s found the courage to do so, I believe that ‘drive’ already exists within every entrepreneur. In business and life itself, you’re going to go through highs and lows. In order to go forth, I think back to some of the best advice I have ever received, […]

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Starting a company is never easy. As someone who’s found the courage to do so, I believe that ‘drive’ already exists within every entrepreneur. In business and life itself, you’re going to go through highs and lows. In order to go forth, I think back to some of the best advice I have ever received, which is “don’t be afraid to fail quick.” Failure is inevitable, you just need to turn failures into areas of opportunity for learning and growth.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Roebuck, CEO of Detroit-based Clicktivated Inc. Chris has been a member of the business and technology communities for over a decade. After graduating from Michigan State University in 2006 with a BA in Advertising, Chris began his career working for BBDO’s media group, PhD. Chris spent several years creating and growing small business before he created Clicktivated’s interactive video solution, which is his largest venture to date. The company quickly set out to solve the growing challenge of monetizing video and creating a solution that allows viewers to gain instant information on products and access to purchase simply by clicking on items as they watch. Clicktivated’s “consumer first” mindset has played a pivotal role in every aspect of the company, and remains the primary reason why it is a leader in the interactive/shoppable video industry. Despite the exponential growth in demand for online video technologies, Clicktivated remains the one company in the industry that sets itself apart with its highly effective and user-friendly software and IP. As Clicktivated’s CEO, Chris remains the leader of the company, and the main driver behind the substantial growth the company has seen.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Graduating with a degree in Advertising from Michigan State University, my first job out of college was at an ad agency in Detroit. After a few years in the advertising world, I realized I could not stop thinking about all of the opportunities that were available to improve the marketing world. This is when I decided it was time to go off on my own entrepreneurial path. A couple of years in, and a number of ideas later, I identified what I still believe today is the most important tool in marketing: directly connecting consumers to products and information straight from video, AKA shoppable video. I personally have experienced so much frustration with never being able to find products that I had just seen in a video, so I knew video monetization opportunities were going to expand beyond just pre-roll and banner ads.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

I wish being an entrepreneur was as glamorous as it is on TV: Come up with a concept, raise millions, hire hundreds of employees and sell for a $1b+ all within 1 or 2 years! Although I wish that were the case, being an entrepreneur is unbelievably tough and I think you need to be wired a certain way to handle all the ups and downs of the daily emotional roller coaster.

When I started the company, the challenge of landing on what the consumer facing product should look like was enormous. All entrepreneurs are perfectionists and meticulous about every little detail of their business; if you are not, you will most likely fail. Going through dozens of concepts and countless prototypes was difficult, since I was wary about making the wrong decision and sick to my stomach at the idea of launching something less than perfect. My head spun even more combining these anxieties with all different types of feedback from the outside world. Although at the same time, this experience was an eye opener, as it quickly taught me that if you are always tweaking your product you never end up making it to the market! It’s OK to make mistakes, but make them fast, quickly learn from them, improve and move forward!

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Starting a company is never easy. As someone who’s found the courage to do so, I believe that ‘drive’ already exists within every entrepreneur. In business and life itself, you’re going to go through highs and lows. In order to go forth, I think back to some of the best advice I have ever received, which is “don’t be afraid to fail quick.” Failure is inevitable, you just need to turn failures into areas of opportunity for learning and growth.

So, how are things going today? How did Grit lead to your eventual success?

To me, everyone’s definition of success is different. Knowing I have a great team backing me, an amazing product and support system that has helped me along the way is truly something I could not be more grateful for. Today, I could not be more proud of how far Clicktivated has come and I’m excited to see where we’re heading for the future.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I would say the funniest mistake I made was thinking the journey wasn’t going to be that tough, because we had an amazing piece of technology that would sell itself! I quickly found out that wasn’t the case: even great products never just sell themselves. This required me to quickly adjust my original way of thinking and better understand what was really going on in the market. Although I wish things would just sell themselves, I’m glad this forced me to evolve and grow quickly.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

As today’s digital world is ever changing, being able to stand out is something we are constantly thinking about. We make sure to understand the benefits of what everyone else in our industry is offering, then tailor our product to see what we can do better. We are always looking at what our customers see as valuable, and facilitating the ability to easily access any product or information within video and provide a solution that is of interest to them is something we are passionate about.

I believe Clicktivated stands out not only because we have an amazing product/technology, but because we treat everyone equally and with respect. It’s a simple concept, but it’s hard to build into your core culture. It has helped us open doors we could have never imagined. I say this a lot, but just be nice and listen: if you don’t, you will never be able to sell anything.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I have learned so much during my time in this industry, and know that there is still so much more I am going to learn in the future. One of the best tips I can give to my colleagues in this industry is to rely on your team and make sure that trust is established between each other. It’s no surprise that within any industry you are going to go through ups and downs, but being able to go through everything with a strong team is the key to thriving.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There are quite a few people along the way that have helped my company get to the point it is today. We have an amazing and diverse set of advisors who are always willing to do anything for us. Specifically, my dad has been an incredible help along the way. Being able to leverage his 40+ years as a successful entrepreneur has been invaluable and special to me personally.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

From our inception, we’ve always had a “customer first” mindset. Through this, we cater our offerings to their wants and needs. This allows for us to better understand them and make sure we’re always delivering a solution that will be useful and valuable to our audience.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)

1. Never stop chasing “it”: The more you succeed, (whether that’s landing a deal, closing an investment or just a development milestone), the more you want it, which I find to be the best motivator.

2. Don’t be afraid to fail: Everyone will fail at some point, but it’s how you react after that counts. Use it as motivation to do better next time and make sure to learn from every experience.

3. Try to understand different types of individuals: The more personalities you learn how to deal with, the more you will be able to accomplish.

4. “Grind it out”: Times will get tough, but don’t dwell on the negative, stay positive and keep moving forward.

5. Stay the course: It’s easy to give up or give in when things aren’t going your way. But the only way to develop grit is to keep your head up, stay positive and keep going!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Personally, I’ve always cared about how people treat each other both online and in person; it’s a value that expanded into the way I run my company as well. Especially as we operate in the online space, it’s easy to see how negativity can be spread so quickly over the internet and impact people’s lives. What would be most helpful is to start a movement to inspire positivity, kindness, and compassion instead of hate.

How can our readers follow you on social media?


Twitter: @Clicktivated


Instagram: @clicktivated

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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