Andy Von Kennel

Andy Von Kennel

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Entrepreneur Quick Coffee: F# CEO/Founder Pete Jimison

February 12, 2014 By Andy Von Kennel

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I think F# (pronounced F Sharp, like the music note) and Pete Jimison might have serious staying power.  Now, I have no degrees for that statement but I do believe you can sense whom a person is and where they can go.

Pete is the CEO and Founder of F#, Software as a Service (SaaS) advertising solution based in NYC connecting brands and audiences with music in a scalable (IAB compliant), customizable (several products) and social way.  They are driving millions in revenue with clients your mom would know, have global hubs in place and are positioned for growth.  With F# retooled and ready to jam, I asked Pete for a quick coffee.

Why did you start F#?

F# was formed by 3 individuals: myself, my brother Dave, and our third business partner Dan.  To be honest, we didn’t set out to create F#, it was an evolution of sorts.

In 2010 I jumped from the Corporate world to start a digital agency with my brother.  My brother had finished his PHD coursework in Digital Media at the time and I had a finance/ops background with some sales experience.  So we set out for NYC.

Before up and moving to New York, I had been in Switzerland living the cush life: nice clothes, a nice car, travel, etc. Then I found myself in NYC sleeping on a hardwood floor in a closet-sized room adjacent to my brother’s room in a Brooklyn apartment, eating beans and rice to scrape by… no joke.  We lived like that for about 18 months slowly building our business and taking on higher paying clients and more interesting work as we went.  It was a hustle in every sense of the word.

As we grew, we eventually got more involved in music.  We met our third business partner at the end of 2011 and by mid-2012 we decided to focus just on digital music and transformed into F#.  Music was a great fit for us and it was something that both my brother and I shared an extreme passion for, though our music tastes hardly align.

So though we did not set out to create F#, as an entrepreneur you naturally gravitate towards things based on your interests and passions, and of course where market opportunity is.  And we saw that in our early work with Spotify.

What have been the drivers of your success?

I’d say I have a relentless drive for achieving my goals.  Not because I’m OCD or anything, but more because I imagine what I want my future to look like and I drive myself to achieve it.  I’m definitely a day dreamer and obscenely optimistic, and that’s helped me to overlook the burdens and perils of starting and running a business.

I’m also a risk taker.  I started with my first adventure moving to California after school to find something different.   At that point I had a credit card, a Toyota Camry, and $800 to my name.  Since then I’ve taken hundreds of risks, some small, some very big.  I’ve realized that the only way I’ve been able to get a business to move is by taking risks.  You just need to calculate as much as you can and then jump.  And if you don’t make it, the bruises make you tougher and force you to just push harder.

F# has definitely had its fair share of bruises.  Just last year we had the exit of our founding partner Dan.  As you and I have discussed, founding partner dynamics are critical.  A company is built on top of the founding members, the basis for the vision, the culture, the foundation to a successful team.  So I had to push hard to stabilize culture.

Our culture, I believe, is the absolute driver of its success.  It’s the DNA of the company, and every single person in the organization plays a role and makes up a strand of the DNA.  People think that you can remove personalities from a workplace and just “get the job done”.  I completely disagree.  Each of those personalities needs to mesh in order for efficiency to happen.  And its all of the personalities of our team that make-up the overall personality of F#.

What do you love most about F#?

Music.

Music is a universal language, a connector for people, hitting at the very soul of what makes us tick.

Thus, there’s no better time to be in the music/tech space.  The advent of digital music from music streaming to music-focused online services has brought about all sorts of new opportunities for artists, fans, and brands.  The level of access that we have now to explore, discover, play, create, share, and connect music is unprecedented.  Artists are finding it easier to grab exposure and not have to rely on the bigger players for distribution and marketing.  And funnily enough, artists are becoming more comfortable with the notion of being sponsored by brands.  So many of these artists and brands have an affinity for each other that combining the two actually can help promote both at the same time.

And this is where F# comes in.  Using technology we can identify what people are listening to, understand their affinity for music and brands, then create experiences that allow artists and brands to promote their music or sponsor an experience around music.   For years, brands have used music to make these individual and collective emotional connections with music but now with F#, brands can creatively make emotional connections where people live their lives today – digitally.

 

Andy Von Kennel is SVP Business Development at Mediabrands. You can follow his thoughts on leadership, entrepreneurship, business strategy, media and marketing at avkthinks