Derek Forbes is the CEO of Stardust. Derek is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Derek provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of Stardust. Derek Forbes joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team is delighted to have Derek join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview.
Derek, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to answer our questions about leadership, and entrepreneurship.
1. Please tell us about Stardust.
Stardust is the go-to social app where fans connect over the movies & TV shows they love. Users can post their own video reactions to trailers, movies & shows. It’s a place to discover new shows and movies, watch trailers, read original content, find entertainment news, take fun daily polls, and more.
2. What sets you apart from the competition?
Stardust is a unique social platform, with a really passionate user base. I was a massive Game of Thrones fan, and still am. Before Stardust, I wanted to be able to discuss and debate every episode with other fans, and being that GoT had one of the largest audiences any TV show has ever had, I knew there was no shortage of other superfans to connect with. There just wasn’t a good place to do it. Other social platforms are too generic, with more broad appeal. And even those that have subsets or “groups” within the community didn’t really meet my needs. I wanted to be able to subscribe and follow specific shows, read and share comments on a per-episode or per-season basis. Stardust is a social app for movie & TV fans, built by true movie & TV fans.
3. What is the key to your company’s success?
We believe in building meaningful connections that elevate the human experience. That’s what movies and shows are all about–we tune in to feel connected to a character’s story, to feel empathy, to travel to other worlds, to gain a fresh perspective. We know that Stardust is authentic space for people to connect over the shows and movies they’re really passionate about.
4. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
It’s going to take you about 3 times as long as you think to build. Because once you release your initial feature set and you get data from people actually using the product, you start to find out what you really need to do in order to keep people opening the app.
5. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
Surrounding yourself with strong people is arguably the only thing that matters. Luckily, I did figure this out before I started Stardust – and it’s a team made up of some of the greatest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Being able to rely on each of my team members when we run into roadblocks enables us to push through challenges. Each person has their own unique perspective to contribute to problem-solving, which enables us to come up with creative solutions.
6. How do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
Our users are everything, so we aim to keep our brand promise of a fun, welcoming, and inclusive space for people to connect over their shared love of entertainment, to encourage discovery, spark conversation, and build community.
7. In today’s fast-changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
Retention is everything (as far as success metrics go). It may seem that the most important thing when it comes to building a large scale social network is about new user acquisition – but the real challenge (and opportunity) is all about keeping those people coming back regularly once they have installed.
8. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead your company?
I am a product person at heart and making software products is a creative outlet for me. There are few things more gratifying to me than seeing people use and enjoy what we have made – so the goal of getting Stardust in front of a lot more people is very motivating to me!
Staying healthy can be a challenge when running a startup, because it can easily become all-consuming if you allow it to. It’s important to carve out time for exercise and the occasional getaway.
9. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
Richard Branson’s autobiography (“Losing My “Virginity”) is a fun read full of some great insights about his approach to business and entrepreneurship. I’m a huge fan of Richard Branson’s style of doing business. His philosophy of looking after your employees foremost, which will in turn ensure your customers are happy and it becomes that much easier to achieve the revenue and profit growth your shareholders are looking for.
10. What makes a great leader?
The most successful leaders are those that empower and encourage multiple levels of team members to be bold and entrepreneurial – but while recognizing that failing sometimes is a natural possibility and consequence. By starting small and testing the waters, the impact from failing can be greatly mitigated. “Screw it, let’s do it” is a phrase that embodies this type of thinking, and which resonates with me.
Derek Forbes, thank you so much for participating in the DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We appreciate you participating in this important roundtable interview series, and helping our readers learn more about what it takes to build a great company and become a great leader. We wish you, your family, and of course Stardust, nothing but the best.