Pol Rosset of WindowSight: “Be ready for the unexpected”

The one thing anyone should consider on why making anything that can produce a positive impact to our society or environment is the path itself. It is not only what you want to achieve or what you will end up achieving, it’s everything on the journey. Working towards your goal is very satisfying and makes […]

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The one thing anyone should consider on why making anything that can produce a positive impact to our society or environment is the path itself. It is not only what you want to achieve or what you will end up achieving, it’s everything on the journey. Working towards your goal is very satisfying and makes your efforts worth it. You get energized by knowing that you are doing something you believe will make a positive impact on society.

As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pol Rosset, CEO and CoFounder of WindowSight.

Pol Rosset is a young, driven, entrepreneur in Barcelona. He and his family have been passionate about art all of their lives and have a great appreciation for the artist’s contribution to society. Rosset has spent the past several years building a solution that enables everyone to experience art in the comfort of their homes, directly on their TV — a revolution in the way art is consumed.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?

I grew up in Terrassa, a city 30km outside of Barcelona (Catalonia) with my brother Oriol, who is the other Co-founder of WindowSight. Our father was and entrepreneur and businessmen and my mother was a teacher. As both of them were very active and passionate about our experiences growing up, I remember my childhood being surrounded by art and music.

Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you growing up? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

“What They Don’t Teach you at Harvard Business School” by Mark H. MacCormack, is a fascinating book I read during the time I was starting to build WindowSight. It was very helpful providing tools and tips on how to run a business, manage people and achieve goals the best way possible for everyone.

How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

For me, “Making A Difference” happens when you do something that has a direct impact on someone else; it can make a difference to a friend, to your family, to your neighborhood, to the whole world or even to the orangutans in Borneo. The implications and dimensions of that difference will vary, but at the end of the day, any action can “Make A Difference”.

The way I can best make a difference is at the moment is trying to change the art world’s status quo. Delivering art to the masses, in a simple and economical way is more than a business — understanding art provides connection to other people’s experiences, expands your world view and builds empathy.

Ok super. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

We are working to change the art industry, making the art world more accessible to everyone. Our goal is to revolutionize the way we consume art the same way it has been done with music and movies, where you can have access to “everything” through a digital platform such as Spotify or Netflix. Why do we have to choose which singular artwork to have hanging on my wall when we can listen to any music anytime or watch a different movie every night?

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

Since I was very young, I always had the same feeling when leaving a gallery or art exhibition: I would never be able to see all those artworks together again. I couldn’t afford a 5000 euro painting, but even if I could, I would only enjoy the one I bought, not all of them. There had to be a way to be able to enjoy all of the many artworks together again, and Instagram on our small phone screens wasn’t a good option.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

It wasn’t actually a unique “Aha Moment” but more a series of moments with my father and brother “making a big deal out of nothing”. It really all started on a family trip to the USA in the summer of 2016, our original idea focused on using your TV as a window to the world providing views of nature — as an alternative to the not so lovely views many people have outside of their actual windows. After much thought and discussion we realized if we were going to build the platform for this we should go beyond images of nature and bring various forms of visual art onto home TVs.

At that moment we realized we had the chance to make a difference and build something innovative and wonderful for the world.

Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

Looking back, I see some important factors that made us get this project started:

  • An amazing idea, but most importantly, an idea that motivates you.
  • The right timing, not only in the world or industry your idea relates, but also personally to you.
  • A team or group (in my case, my family) with whom you share that motivation and commitment for the goal you want to achieve.
  • Start working on it! An idea is worth nothing without a team who can make it real.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

The support and reaction we have received from the artist community has been even greater than we anticipated. In the case with many artists their focus is on their creative works and often earnings are an afterthought. They create because they have something they need to express and share with others. The unique revenue stream we have at WindowSight ensures the artists our customers enjoy get compensated with 50 to 60% of the revenue. This not only shows appreciation and recognition to the artists, but also allows for a new revenue stream for them.

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

It’s hard to recall a funny mistake, instead when I reflect on the beginning of this journey I realize that every day in the beginning I was learning something new. Most days, it was many new things because we all wore many hats and were involved in all aspects of getting WindowSight going. I really enjoy the fact that I’m still learning, even now as we grow.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

We had and have many mentors and close people that influenced us (family, friends, entrepreneurs and artists) during all of the process, in many aspects and many different fields (art, business, startups, finance, leadership, legal, technology and design). 
As a matter of fact, we did not build this platform only the three of us; we know it is thanks to everyone who has helped, given us their advice and believed in us and in the project that we have been able to get this far.

Without saying specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I wouldn’t say a particular individual but most of the artists that we have contacted, across the globe, have been impacted by the idea and the way we are facing it. The ones that joined, some of them did when we didn’t even have the platform developed, did it mainly because they believed in changing the art world.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

I would suggest anyone to have the following 3 things in mind, and try to promote or amplify all them in each in their own way and with their own capabilities:

  • The importance of having art in our lives: it is well known that being surrounded by a nice environment gives us not only more productivity, but more wellbeing, calmness and joy. Being surrounded by the art we like is a great way of doing that.
  • The importance of contributing with the artists: they are creating wonderful artworks or taking amazing pictures that you can then enjoy at home or at a museum and as with any other job, they should be compensated also economically. Moreover, they are not only creating masterpieces, with their work, they are telling the stories behind the photo, the painting or the video art: creating awareness to important issues such as climate change, injustices worldwide or social criticism. Through their storytelling these messages will reach a much larger audience and that will hopefully lead to greater understanding of the world we all share.
  • The importance of sharing: due to the pandemic, more museums and artists are sharing their artworks online so people can enjoy it no matter where they are. There is still a lot of work to do in order to get rid of the old conception of art being exclusive: it’s ok that someone has the unique original artwork, because there is only one, but the rest of the world could be also enjoying it digitally from anywhere.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of the interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each).

  1. Don’t be a Gollum: “this is my treasure…” our first year developing the prototype, we were very cautious of whom we spoke about our idea. After going to several entrepreneur meetings, and started sharing it opendly and we realized that it was then when we could get more feedback that made the company grow and advance.
  2. Even though your idea is brilliant, the most important thing is the team behind it. We realized about it one and a half years later… an idea alone worth nothing if there is no team committed to make it shine.
  3. No matter what, your project will take you more than double the time, money and effort you expected. We thought that we would be an exception, but no. We thought we were going to have the platform out in the market in one year, and yet it took us more than three, because we wanted to do it right.
  4. Even the best product doesn’t sell by itself. We focused so much on having a super well prepared product, with the best features for artists and users, but we forgot to invest in selling it to the ones that would have to pay. In our case, acquisition, retention and conversion are the key.
  5. Be ready for the unexpected. As much planning as we would do to be prepared for everything, you really don’t know what may happen next. It’s important to be ready to pivot and change direction to maintain the business in uncertain times. A lesson we all learned this past year.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

The one thing anyone should consider on why making anything that can produce a positive impact to our society or environment is the path itself. It is not only what you want to achieve or what you will end up achieving, it’s everything on the journey. Working towards your goal is very satisfying and makes your efforts worth it. You get energized by knowing that you are doing something you believe will make a positive impact on society.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

There are a lot of them, but the first one that came to mind is Leonardo DiCaprio. Apart from being one of my favorite actors, he is one of the most involved celebrities with environmental issues and ecology which I really support, respect and admire. He is also an avid art lover. At the end of the day, I consider him a very interesting, clever and respectful person with whom I would love to have a conversation.

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Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.

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