Grant Davies, the chief executive officer of Bluetube (acquired by PRFT in October 2016), has an extensive background in technology development and puts that knowledge to work for Bluetube’s clients. Grant’s goal is to implement thought leadership into every solution in order to help clients become more efficient, profitable, successful, and enjoyable. He has a passion for researching and predicting future technology trends which has been the foundation for the growth experienced by Bluetube. Under his leadership since 1999, Grant has been the driving force behind Bluetube’s innovative and results-oriented solutions delivered to clients. Through hard work and creative thinking, Grant has been able to expand the company’s client base as well as attract many talented professionals to Bluetube.
He has attained multiple degrees including a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from The University of Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom where he graduated with honors. Grant has over twenty years of experience in IT ranging from being a developer, an architect, and being called on as a consultant. These experiences have enabled him to bring a variety of innovative ideas and exceptional leadership skills to Bluetube.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Grant proudly became an American citizen in 2010; he is proficient in math, chemistry, physics, and computer science as well as being able to properly pronounce garage and aluminum.
Tell me about your early career.
I graduated from the University of the West Midlands in the UK and worked for Kalahari Software as a C++ programmer, working on Windows applications for Futures trading. I moved to the US in 1996 based on a job ad in the paper to “come work in America” and worked for a consulting firm who loaned me out to Sprint and a digital agency called iXL. I stated Bluetube as a “hobby” music business and did small projects under it over the years. In my day job, I worked on the Enterprise Architecture team for Norfolk Southern and eventually wanted to work for a digital agency named Fluid in San Francisco and worked for Reebok’s and Timberland’s designers. I realized I love the “agency” and “digital” work, and in 2008, I quit my day job and went full-time for myself as Bluetube.
How did the concept for Bluetube come about?
Bluetube started as a music company and still exists as Bluetube Productions. Bluetube Inc. became a digital transformation business, using technology to help businesses run better through great user experiences.
When did you start Bluetube?
Unofficially in 1999, but it became serious around 2008/2009.
What was your marketing strategy?
Initially, we were a company that built websites and rich Internet applications, and as time went on, we noticed a huge gap in the market with a specialization in mobile, and we invested heavily in being the experts in enterprise mobile applications, apps that would enable businesses, their vendors, and their customers. With strategic partnerships with Xamarin (now owned by Microsoft) and a focus on user experience, we married really great user experiences with heavy technology.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We doubled our revenue, year-over-year, for several years and made the Inc. 5000 three years in a row.
How do you define success?
I think making your customers’ businesses more successful, either through higher customer acquisition, more efficiency, or higher revenue, and providing a work environment where your employees love coming to work, with a great team to work with, and have an environment where their careers flourish.
What is the key to success?
Get your hands dirty, try not to take people for granted, but when you do, make it up to them. Don’t provide easy to achieve goals – provide lofty goals so that you have something to aim for, not something you can do in your sleep. Reward and respect those who helped you be successful – your team.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Build leadership as fast as you can. Being a small business, you tend to be scrappy and do everything, but you often don’t delegate because there is no one to delegate to. Once we had a real layer of leadership, we were more successful, less stressed, and provided better results. I wish we’d done it sooner.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“Bet the farm” is something that has resonated with me for years. In other words, go all in on your idea, don’t hold back. One more is, “Make sure you’ve got the stomach for this.” You need to make sure you can handle the stress. Sometimes you won’t, but you’ll get past it. The biggest thing is not to give up and to not let stress immobilize you.
What are some of your favorite books?
I love The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, and his not very politically-correct quote, “If you are going to eat shit, don’t nibble.” I like the book by Patrick Lencioni, and a recent read I enjoyed was The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John Mann.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
There have been many, but I’d say one that sticks was a day when we were owed a bunch of money by a client, and I didn’t have enough money in the bank to make the next payroll. I didn’t sleep for about three days. During that time, I was asking various clients if we could get paid a little early, and a few days before I had to make payroll, a client agreed to pay us early and I covered payroll. That client is still with us and I thanked them for their kindness at our time of need.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I call myself an optimistic realist. If things get me down, it’s temporary. I’ve been through so many things as a business owner. I think the fear of things is worse than reality. In the end, if you have your family and your friends, what’s the worst that could happen? My family, my faith, and the amazing leaders I have in our business is what keeps me going.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Bet the farm, take risks, have faith, don’t be irresponsible, but don’t take the safest routes. If you do, it could take forever to get to where you’ll be. If you’re going to fail, may as well go out with a bang. And if you succeed, why not do it sooner? Establish advisors who have done similar things to you, even in other lines of business. The advice of others is what got me through many of the challenges I had to face. Get great leaders to share your vision. It’s hard to do it on your own, and the sooner you have others that believe in you and your vision, the faster you can realize it.
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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