First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Alexandar Vassilev: My wife and I are doing well – thank you for asking. The last several months have been challenging for everyone and I am very grateful for any opportunity to return to normality. I also would like to take this opportunity and thank all those who have worked tirelessly to keep us safe and healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined Joyn GmbH
Alexandar Vassilev: I was fascinated by technology from an early age and was lucky enough to make it the center of my education and professional career. Right after university I joined Google in New York and stayed with the company for many years working as an Engineer and Program manager before moving into Product. I spent a lot of time working on incredible global products like Google Search, DoubleClick, and YouTube – that in many ways changed the world in the last decade.
When the time came to leave Google, I was tapped to join 7TV (later Joyn GmbH) in late 2017, a newly formed independent Joint Venture between ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery, as its CEO and MD. Since then, we grew the company from 3 to 250+ people, put together an incredible team and culture, acquired other players in the market and built a new video streaming service from scratch in record time. We recently celebrated our first product birthday and I cannot be prouder of the team, our product and our users. In this short year, we captured roughly 11.2 % market share, grew our audience to around four million monthly unique users and created a strong product/market fit with a unique freemium business model.
How does Joyn GmbH innovate?
Alexandar Vassilev: It is extremely important to create an environment where everyone can have the opportunity to bring new ideas and continue to push the innovation boundaries. We are focused on building a diverse team, creating a culture of adaptability and enabling full ownership across the different organisational levels. This makes us lean, fast and quick to test hypotheses, bringing both content and product innovation. Those at Joyn who are closer to our users are the foundation of our ability to deliver unique and innovative solutions to user problems..
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Alexandar Vassilev: The pandemic brought a new reality for everyone. In those uncertain times, many people turned to video streaming to provide a much needed information, entertainment, and distraction while staying at home. For us, it meant rethinking how we operate from home as a company and continue to serve our users. Like many other companies, we had to overcome operational challenges, especially around our content productions but I am proud of the incredible work the team has put to ensure our product offering remains fresh and relevant.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Alexandar Vassilev: Young companies face difficult choices all the time. Like many others, we are moving fast and fight for our right to exist every day of the week and this is where our ability to be lean and adaptive becomes a competitive advantage. We have built a strong muscle of making decisions with limited information, reading the market and our users and deploying a hypothesis driven product implementation.
We see both success and failures as opportunities to learn and adapt while we chase our long term goals. One of the biggest lessons we learned early on is that moving forward, even if you hit obstacles and need to adjust, is better than staying still. As the recent times have shown us, the world can change in a matter of weeks and so must we.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Joyn GmbH in the future ?
Alexandar Vassilev: The key to success is balance. Stress and anxiety could be enablers in the right moments but they should never be the everyday norm. It is important to allow yourself and others to relax and recharge on a regular basis by creating an environment that allows people to compartmentalize issues, focus on the bigger picture and support each other in the difficult moments.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Alexandar Vassilev: We operate in one of the most competitive markets in Europe where both strong local players and global giants bring a lot of innovation almost every day. Many people argue we are in a fight with great companies like Netflix, Amazon Prime or TVNow but we see this as a friendly competition that makes us stay focused and driven.
Video streaming is not a winner-takes-all market and we see the opportunity to both capture market share and grow the overall pie. Our Freemium business model gave the chance to build an unique proposition that brings the best of the local and international content worlds under the roof of a strong product. This will be the key to our future success.
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