Lessons From a Tech Titan: Back away from technology, and cultivate personal relationships

With Murad Mordukhay, the CEO of Qencode Video Transcoding

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As simple as it sounds, back away from technology, and cultivate personal relationships. Social landscapes continue to evolve, and more people are turning to text for digital communication. This strips away much of the important emotion we require as human beings to lead a fulfilled life. If everyone made the effort to spend quality time with their friends and loved ones, I believe there would be a massive increase in net happiness across the world.

As a part of our series on “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that seem copied from science fiction, I had the pleasure of interviewing Murad Mordukhay. Murad is the CEO of Qencode Video Transcoding, a company that makes complex enterprise video solutions affordable and easy to use for everyone. Previously Murad served as the Director of Product Distribution Strategy, as well as the International Product Lead for ReachLocal (NYSE: RLOC), which was sold to Gannett Co., (NYSE: GCI) in 2016 for $156 million. Before that, he worked as a Digital Media Specialist at The Phelps Group, managing yearly digital marketing budgets in excess of $80 million for corporate clients like DIRECTV.

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

Like a lot of other disruptive products, we started off with one concept that morphed into something much better due to the constraints of practicality. Qencode was born when the processing of video content for a platform we were building got too expensive. As we did our research on transcoding services, we realized that costs were too high to support our bootstrapped startup. We decided to build our own solution for distributed video transcoding, and what we ultimately created was so efficient that our results were an order of magnitude better than any of the other solutions in the market. We knew that we needed to bring this technology to startups and enterprises to make their video processing workflows more robust and supportable, both technically and financially.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Our success almost backfired! When we first started marketing, our prices were so low that our inbox was flooded with suspicious inquiries doubting our cost calculations. Nobody could believe that our prices were so much lower than the largest technology companies in the world. People assumed that we were trying to scam them. It was an interesting challenge, communicating to potential customers that in fact, the force of our technology was driving these efficiencies. After they experienced our technology outperform their current overpriced solutions, they were all very happy to make the switch. The solution was offering potential customers free trial services, which has greatly reduced the skeptical emails.

Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

The distributed cloud infrastructure we are building saves our customers over 80% on costs when compared to similar services from large cloud providers. Our robust API and list of SDKs allows our clients to focus on their business, rather than the optimization of complex video workflows. We think this will give anyone in the world the power to create the next Netflix or YouTube for a fraction of the cost.

How do you think this might change the world?

We’re disrupting monopoly. The rate of growth for video demand increases with each quarter. Companies are realizing that they need their own OTT platforms and video application to capitalize on this shift in the market and stay competitive. We are seeing large content providers break away from consolidated platforms, as they aim to create their own channels with custom monetization strategies. By leveraging the latest breakthroughs in technology with economies of scale, our cloud transcoding solution removes the barriers to entry for startups, content creators and enterprises around the world to compete directly with the largest global OTT platform.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Currently, the top three cloud providers in the world already control over 70% of the global public cloud infrastructure. If our technology were to fall into the wrong hands, these cloud providers could use our innovations to fully monopolize the cloud infrastructure. This would give them full access, control, and censorship power over the majority of the internet. Production of new content would be repressed, and we’d be forced to watch the same shows forever! So obviously, we keep our technology secret.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

Looking for cost-effective solutions, we were struck by the massive inefficiency in the offerings of video transcoding services. Thinking it through, we concluded that it was possible to create a better delivery system. We experimented with the latest breakthroughs in the space for several months before we finally hit a solution that solved efficiency in a mode we hadn’t imagined possible. We laser-focused our efforts, intensifying this solution, and before long we had something pretty amazing, that we knew customers were going to want.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Awareness is the biggest driver for adoption. Our competitors spend millions of dollars each year to get in front of potential customers and pass these acquisition costs right back to their users. We believe that when more customers experience firsthand the powerful cloud transcoding solutions we offer, this will be enough to drive massive adoption at scale. They become evangelists, wanting us to succeed because we are helping them to succeed!

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

As of yet, we haven’t launched any major marketing initiatives; most of our customers hear about us through word of mouth. We are fully focused on driving even more innovations in the space, and we still have some work to do before we launch marketing of our solution at scale. Our target users are tech-savvy early adopters, which currently aligns very well with our word-of-mouth marketing approach.

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 about that?

I’m blessed to be surrounded by many people in my life that have been there for me when times were tough, but nobody has helped me throughout my life more than my parents. Everything of true value in my life, I was able to achieve thanks to the love, support, hard work and sacrifice of my parents. Without their wisdom, energy, and unconditional understanding, it’s impossible to imagine how I would have overcome the challenges life has thrown at me over the years. They are uncommonly brave, kind, and positive. They’ve encouraged me to take huge risks on passion projects, and I am stronger knowing they have my back. I admire them for the success they achieved in this country with nothing but hard work and dedication, and for remaining such truly good people through it all. They are what I aspire to be.

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

We give free advice. Understanding the difficulties of being a startup founder, we spend time with many of our smaller clients guiding them on developing customer solutions outside of video transcoding. We do this for free, even for users who never plan to use our services at scale. We believe that by facilitating the growth of new ideas, we can improve the chances that someone will create something that makes the world better.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1) Know your customer

When we launched, we had the idea that our target customers were large studios because our services saved so much money. We soon found out that the users that were most excited about our solution were startups and medium sized enterprises, just like us. Once we knew our target customers, we were able to focus on building the most ideal solutions for them, driving adoption of our technology.

2) Don’t doubt yourself

Initially, we didn’t think we could compete with the largest cloud computing companies on the market, but by listening to our users and prioritizing development around what drove the most value, we quickly found that we were able to provide a better all-round service, at an even better price.

3) It won’t happen overnight

Patience is the secret sauce for innovation. When we developed our high efficiency transcoding solution, we were certain customers would flock to our service based on the affordable costs and time savings. We found out the hard way that raising awareness for a new technology is a massive effort and requires significant investment and effort to get the word out. It helps having many satisfied customers that love your product and tell their friends and family about it, but that takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slowly compounding process of trust building that creates a powerful and hopefully, lasting momentum over time.

4) Think bigger

It’s been an evolution of thought process. When we began, our transcoding solution was able to solve a very narrow use case for on demand videos. Since then, we have released hundreds of new features and workflow customization options, and we continue to expand our breakthroughs into other enterprise video products that crave innovation. Once we started to think bigger about the role we could play in the market, we were motivated to align our development efforts with initiatives that brought tremendous impact to our trajectory.

5) Get out of the office

When you are working on cutting-edge breakthrough technology, it’s easy to to get so deeply immersed in your work that you spend months in the office working on nothing but your technology. Working for weeks uninterrupted often leads to some big advancements but doing this for a prolonged period leads to a reduction of your capacity to innovate. It’s good to get out once in a while, whether it’s social gatherings, industry events or just a long walk in the park.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As simple as it sounds, back away from technology, and cultivate personal relationships. Social landscapes continue to evolve, and more people are turning to text for digital communication. This strips away much of the important emotion we require as human beings to lead a fulfilled life. If everyone made the effort to spend quality time with their friends and loved ones, I believe there would be a massive increase in net happiness across the world.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees.” — Marcus Aurelius

Selfish acts that hurt the community create more harm than you think. Actions that take away from the greater good rarely provide a net benefit for those responsible. I’ve found that by being kind and respectful, and paying it forward, the environment around me is greatly enriched, and quality of life improves.

Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Qencode makes complex enterprise video technology affordable and easy to use for everyone. Our highly efficiency video transcoding solution saves customers 80% on transcoding costs while improving their video processing speed. The service is highly customizable and comes with a robust API that makes it easy to automate almost any video transcoding workflow at scale. We are growing an average of 40% month over month since we launched and have already transcoded millions of minutes for our clients. We continue to release new features and optimizations every month. We are in the flow of innovation.

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Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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