Discover Media House is the world’s first online marketplace for the entire media industry. Founded by serial entrepreneur Steve Lowry, Discover Media House enables advertisers to buy all the online and offline media available in the market from a single dashboard.
To hear the pitch in his own words, check out the following video of Steve on BNN.
We wanted to learn more about the man behind the startup, so we sat down with Steve to chat about how he first got into entrepreneurship, where the idea for DMH came from, and the rituals and routines that keep me him sharp.
Q&A With Steve Lowry, CEO of Discover Media House
How would you describe DMH to a non-industry friend over beers?
Discover Media House is the Expedia of media. We can see all the media available in the market and we get advertisers the best prices by holding auctions with media sellers. Radio companies, TV companies, and others bid to be in on advertisers’ campaigns.
When did you first make the leap into entrepreneurship?
I got into publishing early. In grade three, a friend and I started a magazine for troll dolls and sold it to our classmates… And these days publishers say their audiences are small! It was 2008 when I got into publishing for real, co-founding Play Taxi Media – the network of interactive touch screens in taxicabs. We built that company into a national player in Canada’s four biggest markets.
Where did the idea for DMH come from?
In the taxi screen business, we would often pitch advertising agencies, and I found that a lot of times we were a good fit but didn’t make the buy. Large agencies have financial pressures to buy media from the biggest, most established players. It’s inefficient for them to incorporate long-tail media suppliers like Play – even when there is a very strong fit for the campaign. I realized that by creating a transparent marketplace for media, more ad dollars would go into media that nicely suit the client’s needs.
Where did the name come from?
The word Discover is important. I wanted media buyers to know this is a place to find new solutions that maybe they haven’t come across yet. That and dot-house was an available domain.
You split your time between Vancouver and Toronto, but your team has the ability to work remotely. How does that work?
We hire people almost without regard for where they live and have put in place accountability systems that enable everyone to work remotely. I tell team members they can work anywhere in the world they have an Internet connection. The first code for our platform was actually developed by my co-founder on a mountain in the Himalayas using a solar powered computer battery!
What has your experience been like with HIGHLINE thus far?
HIGHLINE delivers on its value proposition of “speed to seed.” We raised our first financing round four weeks after joining HIGHLINE. They provide a strong network, good advice and a sense of urgency to get out there and make things happen. HIGHLINE is a newly merged entity and so it has the feel of a startup itself. It’s a great fit culturally.
Who is your founder crush?
For the longest time, I’ve been really impressed with what Elon Musk is doing. As a boy, he decided he wanted to build and fly spaceships. Lots of boys have that dream, but how many hold onto it and actually do it? It’s staggering. He just figures out a way to get it done. A lot of the world functions on conventional wisdom, but if you look at things fresh – breaking it down to first principles – it allows you to see how to do something like building spaceships. You wouldn’t be able to re-envision that without starting from the beginning.
Best advice you’ve received, or words that motivate you?
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and hand out tasks, instead teach them to long for the sea.” I read that on a slip of paper that came in my cereal box once. That’s about all the leisure reading I have time for these days – cereal boxes.
Do you have any rituals or routines you stick to?
I use Evernote a lot, and I’m very structured with my time. I think I do a decent job of being on the right thing at the right time. I try to get an hour of focus in the morning, and two hours of focus in the afternoon. If I can block off time with no emails, it’s a really good day if I can get three hours of focus in.
Night owl or morning lark?
Recovering night owl, and trying to start earlier. Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone; it’s hard work and requires a lot of discipline and dedication.
How do you motivate yourself when times get tough?
I heard a great interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tim Ferriss’s podcast. Arnie said that he got through the thousands of reps and non-stop training he needed to do when he was launching his bodybuilding career by having a very clear vision of being world champion in his mind. He said it was almost like he was already that champion and the work became easy because it was a natural part of being a champion. It’s good advice and I try to keep a picture of our ultimate success in mind as much as possible.
What about the wins — how do you celebrate those?
Generally Manhattans to start and then something from the Vodka family.
Any advice for others founders?
No general advice comes to mind. I mean, what do you tell a person who wakes up every morning with the conviction that they need to go antagonize multi-billion dollar competitors, commit to building giant platforms before they know where they’ll get the resources, impose deadlines on themselves that strain health and relationships… for a moonshot at greatness? Forget the focus group – you need a support group!