Singing Live From The C-Suite: Interview with WildKat's Chief Executive Officer Emily Wynne-Hughes
Most CEOs are not like Emily Wynne-Hughes, but then again, most companies are not like WildKat. The new live-streaming app for creators and athletes employs a team of "content first" artistic professionals. Their CEO, Emily Hughes, is especially artistic. Prior to joining WildKat, Emily was Senior Manager and Marketing Lead at Maker Studios, a division of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. As an early employee at Maker, Emily was charged with shaping and defining ‘the voice’ and consumer-facing image of the company. Maker Studios would go on to be acquired by Disney for $500+ million.
Impressive? Yes, but that’s not all that separates her from your typical executive or entrepreneur. Emily also appeared as a semi-finalist on both American Idol and The Voice as well as touring globally with a rock band. Her experiences are unusual, but they make her a perfect fit for WildKat’s needs. From experience, Emily truly understands what artists need to be successful and the support that is required to give them the best possible platform for creating truly engaging and original content.
I was recently given an opportunity to meet with Emily Hughes and interview her. Her responses to my questions are truly inspiring.
1. What about your job makes you the most passionate?
Although entering karaoke contests in the valley definitely has it's appeal, working in a transformative space on the forefront of social video is pretty awesome and I've never been one to sing for my supper. I'm most passionate about building a new product from scratch, revolutionizing the way entertainment is consumed and leveraging technology to come up with interactive formats for the next generation. As a former artist and creative, I'm always looking for additional revenue streams for creators. We are living in a world where entertainment is free and media can be consumed anywhere, anytime. WildKat is designed to democratize monetization through technology by taking a crowd-funded approach to content creation.
2. What has been your biggest struggle being a young female CEO at a tech company?
Finding the right outfit to wear...
As a former musician, I dealt with politics and misogyny all the time in the industry. You have to grow a thick skin and learn to work harder to defy stereotypes. Believe it or not, the tech space has been much more welcoming than the music business. Building a strong diverse team is key and a variety of perspectives is important if we want to do things differently. I'm an unexpected player in a highly competitive game with a world full of Ivy League pedigrees. My background is as non-traditional as they come and I see that as an advantage.
3. Do you feel like you associate more with your users or other industry people? Why?
I'd say it's a solid balance. I don’t feel like an executive, I feel like Robin Hood. For years, the entertainment industry was run by media moguls wearing suits in an office, as a young woman and an artist, I couldn’t be further from that. My creator-first mentality and background are what makes WildKat special. I also have a strong business sense, and in order to be successful, there has to an ROI for our investors AND the creators. I have experience on both sides, so I'm uniquely equipped to provide value that serves both parties. I am every creator. I am NOT every CEO.
4. What do you look forward to most in the future for you and your team?
We're a small team trying to accomplish something huge. I'm looking forward to the next chapter of development, we have a really solid product but raising additional funding will allow us to grow our team, add new features that enhance the user experience, providing more value to our broadcasters and their fans. I'm also excited to explore content partnerships with larger brands like XGames and Nitro Circus to engage new audiences online with interactive live content viewers can participate in. When we hit our first million users, I'll look forward to a nice bottle of wine (thinking outside the box).
5. What advice would you give young women and other passionate people who want to end up in a role similar to yours?
Be nice to people. Stay curious. Never take no for an answer. Take risks while you're young. Learn as much as you can from the people around you. Every challenge makes you stronger and adversity makes you wiser. Travel, experience as many different cultures as you can, this will come in handy when you're taking over the world... is anyone even still reading this?
6. How can people contact you?