Don’t let the name fool you. “Rugged individualism, optimism, fearless experimentation, wonderment and beauty,” are a few of the core values that invigorate the team at Chill.com. This startup is anything but lackadaisical. A social video discovery platform from Hollywood Hills, Chill.com began in a garage like so many legendary bands.
Something tells me this group will find a home in the spotlight, fully embracing just how much hard work, persistence, and imagination it takes to make it big time. Already they’ve garnered celebrity attention thanks to comments by Mark Zuckerberg and featured video sets from the likes of SnoopDog.
To date, Chill has raised $8 million in Series A funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Atlas Ventures, Redpoint, CrunchFund, 500 Startups, Science Media, Troy Carter and others. Sit back or strap yourself down as Co-founder Brian Norgard shares some of the Chill’s passion and vision with KillerStartups.
Tell us about your first tango with the Internet. What were your beginning steps?
I’ve been building companies since I was 19 years old. I guess you could say I was born an entrepreneur, but that’s only because I’ve never fit into one societal construct. Growing up, my dad would tell me amazing stories about people who created products that changed the world.
We literally spent hours discussing business, markets and what motivates people. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to create things that could reach millions of people. I became fascinated with mavericks like Howard Hughes, Ted Turner and Walt Disney. When most kids were looking up to Michael Jordan I was developing plans to take classified online.
When do your best ideas come to you?
I read everything I can get my hands on. Reading and consuming random information has been obsession of mine since childhood. Once I truly start to formulate a unique opinion on a subject, I generally seek out people who I think have an expertise in that arena. I very much aspire to avoid groupthink by reading stuff from various disciplines.
Seeing patterns is key, because my job as a product designer is more humanist than anything else. Long walks are also extremely helpful. I love to think things through while strolling through the Hollywood Hills.
We want to know about where you spend your day! What’s on your desk right now?
A stack of old National Geographic magazines–with product team members Scott Hurff, Mike Viamari and Andrew Skotzko to my left and right. What else does a man need?
Old Man in the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually put your life on hold and realize yours?
I’ve never been interested in duplicative ideas. Neil deGrasse Tyson summed up my theory on big ideas pretty damn well, “Doing what has never been done before is intellectually seductive, whether or not, we deem it practical.” Confidence comes from a willingness to accept truth.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get their business off the ground?
Entrepreneurship is about struggle. At the core–if you’re creating something of value–by definition, it shouldn’t be easy. Through the years, I’ve learned to filter out the noise in a way that allows me to fully concentrate on the vision at hand. The best entrepreneurs aren’t moved by the sinusoidal wave that is what other people think. Another thing I’ve learned is that it takes great courage to do something bold, new, and different. Most people don’t have the tolerance to accept the fact that if you’re living on the edge there will be negative externalities. I’d assume if you’re creating for the right reasons you can and will fight through the dark days.
What’s the hardest thing about entrepreneurship?
Finding an original voice. Life is so linear. It’s hard to see around the corners and even harder to do it in a way that’s fresh. People abstain from change because there’s a cost, but it’s the great entrepreneurs that turn change into romance.
Who has been your biggest cheerleader?
I try not to surround myself with cheerleader types. Everyone will tell you your idea is great, execution superb, etc. That’s not helpful. I do my best to form relationships with people who question my decisions and provide new ways to look at the world. If you’re rolling with cheerleaders, you’re bound to fail.
What’s your vision with Chill?
Video is the most important storytelling medium in the world. The progress of humanity is contingent on video. Viewers deserve better. Creators deserve better. I am here to help them both.
We love to know the fact and figures. Any numbers so far that you’d care to share?
In less than 6 months, Chill has 19 million community members. Vanity metrics aren’t important to us, though. We measure in how we delight.
Just wait until you see what’s coming!
Where can our readers get ahold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog?
How do you approach product design?
Extraordinary product design starts with an obsession and pain. You have to be willing to spend thousands of hours dissecting what makes her tick. Once you’ve formulated a true model of engagement, the true hard part starts: creating something uniquely differentiated for her.
It’s fun. It’s beautiful. It’s hard. I love it.
Who is your artistic hero?
A dead tie between Walt Disney and Bob Marley. We jammin’!