“I want to work on things that have the potential to change the world.”
We all have the ability to change the world in one way or another. For those in technology, it’s often more feasible than in other fields, but that doesn’t mean it comes easily.
Many of the world’s best technologists remain behind the scenes while CEOs and their entrepreneurial counterparts receive the spotlight. There are some, however, who break out from the pack. Casey Pugh is one of them.
Casey is the creator of the Emmy-award-winning Star Wars Uncut, Founder of VHX and the former Lead Flash and Senior App Developer for Vimeo. With the ability to code in over fifteen coding languages, Casey may seem like someone who doesn’t need the help of others to be successful, but he knows that very few of us, if anyone, can change the world all by themselves. “I think it’s really important to know what you’re not good at. You can find people around you to help elevate you and fill in the holes of your skillset.”
Even with the knowledge of what you’re good at and how others can mesh with your skillset, sharing your vision properly can be difficult. “I have a lot of big ideas and a vision of what the end result will look like. The challenge is learning how to do a good job communicating that to a team.”
Before joining the talented Vimeo team in 2007, Casey first started exploring entrepreneurship in college at Wake Forest University. After realizing several problems with available RSS readers, Casey created his own RSS importer. It didn’t take off, but this experience helped him gain skills and knowledge that he could apply to future projects, including VHX, which began in October of 2010.
VHX, founded with former Vimeo co-worker Jamie Wilkinson, is an online digital distribution platform that allows artists, filmmakers, comedians and others sell content directly to their networks, taking the distributor out of the equation. In March of 2012, VHX made a big splash when they brought Aziz Ansari’s stand-up special Dangerously Delicious to fans for $5.
Instead of having a filmmaker or comedian submit their video to be accepted onto a platform or have to go through normal distribution channels, VHX provides tools for them to build their own platforms and easily sell their content and videos. VHX now has over 500 sites with over 1M customers. “We don’t want to be the next iTunes or Netflix, we want to power the next Netflix or iTunes,” said Casey before I could ask how he would compete with Netflix, Amazon or HBO go.
By providing the channel for celebrities to sell to their fans, VHX and others are solving a problem and getting rid of a largely unnecessary process – distribution. Asked about the change in the way movies and digital media is bought and sold, Casey stated “distributors are no longer necessary. Hollywood and the video industry are still behind. We’re trying to be the toolset to help solve it.”
Since the launch of the service in March of 2012, VHX has facilitated over $5.6M in total sales. Most would consider their rise in a three year span a success, but Casey isn’t going to call it a success yet. “VHX could be a huge success or a massive failure in the future, who knows? But for me, it’s all about the road there. If I can have fun along the way, I’m happy. If you’re having fun, that’s a good metric of success because something is going right. If it’s not, then you have to bail because making yourself happy is the most important part.”
Making yourself happy is the important part, and something that’s far too easy to forget when you’re chasing your dreams or trying to change the world. Luckily for Casey, he’s been able to stay true to his passion and his vision of shifting how things are done and improving the lives of others in one way or another.
– “If you have an idea, do it. There’s so much to learn throughout the process. The end result may be good or bad, but the more you can execute things to the very end, the better off you’ll be.”
-“The more fuel you have to show how something is going to work, the easier it is to hire people and raise money.”
– “I like making things that people get to touch.”
– “The hardest thing is following through on an idea.”
– “It’s one thing to have a great idea, but it’s another to be able to preach the vision of the idea.”
– If Casey woke up tomorrow and couldn’t code, he would want to be a “storm-chaser” or work for NASA.
Listen to the full interview here.