We talked to Evan Wayne of Key about talent stream exclusive events during the pandemic times.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Evan Wayne: We remain a little stir crazy, but most importantly, healthy and safe. The silver lining has been the extra time we get to spend together; I have come to embrace slowing down a bit.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Key.
Evan Wayne: I started my career working in radio with Talent, and then pivoted to selling digital advertising technology + advanced data tools to brands. A year ago, I found a way to merge my experience in a single company that became Key. My hypothesis was that Talent had become the new brand; I wanted to build a company that gave back control of data & content monetization to Talent, in the same way, that brands were already leveraging that information.
How does Key innovate?
Evan Wayne: Great question. Pre-Covid, we started building a frictionless way for fans and talent to interact in unique ways via livestream technology. The goal was to offer full transparency back to Talent of who their fans really are. While building, we listened to problems in the market across verticals and formed many partnerships with companies like One Team to understand categorical problems. Thanks to our partners and early experience, we continue to build solutions on top of our core tech to solve for these identified problems. Having worked with brands throughout my entire career, we have become an innovative solution for brands to reach their audience.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Evan Wayne: We were set up as a streaming platform prior to the pandemic, so thankfully we haven’t been affected too much, besides a more congested marketplace of competitors. If anything, our product roadmap has accelerated. Our platform allows those affected by coronavirus to benefit, either by making up for lost funds (i.e. artists) or the ability to donate directly to charity (those in need).
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Evan Wayne: Our path, which started pre-pandemic as fairly niche, became congested in Covid. We’ve had to shift our product roadmap/prioritization to accommodate the pandemic. We are agile and continuously find ways to solve new arising problems in the talent space in real-time.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Key in the future?
Evan Wayne: Not only with work but also in my personal life, I try to take a birds-eye view and look at where we are as a company. We are so fortunate that we have a business that is growing at a time that is difficult for most.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Evan Wayne: Many competitors touch parts of our business; you can even bundle Facebook, YouTube, Twitter into our competitive bucket! During the pandemic, within the livestreaming sector, more competitors pop up every day. However, we see ourselves as a unique, one-stop-shop. We have created a way to be less fragmented and more accessible for talent.
Your final thoughts?
Evan Wayne: My one takeaway from the pandemic is that virtual is here to stay and will always play a role in the media mix for all live events. Looking ahead, we hope to be the canonical source of data for talent.
I’ve always taken the approach culturally that the ride is better than the exit. I’m so looking forward to continuing on Key’s journey!