Zapnito Advisor Insight: Darren Gillgrass' story
A True Expert and Zapnito Advisor. I was interviewed as a Zapnito advisor recently - here's my responses
Please tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m head of a busy software product group for the Copyright Clearance Center, switching between strategy, roadmap development, the crazy day-to-day life of internal meetings and the ever-changing needs of publisher and author communities. I’ve spent much of my professional life working in several roles for publishing companies primarily focusing on life-science and academic markets as well as being one of the editorial board members for the Journal of European CME. I live in Boston MA with my wife and two sons.
How did you end up becoming a Zapnito advisor?
I’ve known both Charles and Jon for many years, working with them firstly at Informa and, again when I owned my own publishing consultancy business. They have great belief, determination and drive in delivering excellence for the communities they serve and I very much like their entrepreneurial spirit. We hold extremely similar beliefs and work ethics, so I’m really pleased to become an Advisor.
Why is Zapnito necessary and important today?
There was a critical need to develop real expert communities on an industry agnostic collaboration platform that allowed swift dissemination of ideas, content and opinion without undergoing the rigid and time-consuming processes of submission and review within traditional publishing organizations. Zapnito meets this need by cutting out the incessant noise of “pseudo experts” and their organizations looking to simply advertise their own services without really contributing to the body of evidence out there and provides a flexible and dynamic platform to help curate expertise.
How do you see Zapnito’s business developing in the next 5 years?
Zapnito will continue to scale, developing and evolving the market segment it is focused on. As it becomes more integrated and embedded within its customer base, I see the opportunity to add more collaborative services to both the experts and their peer audiences. As big data and analytics drive change within life sciences markets, the Zapnito platform and its growing base of experts can disrupt the way that health outcomes, for example, are communicated.
What in your opinion/experience is the single-most important skill in running a successful start-up?
Keep believing in what you are doing, your core principles, partners, colleagues and short-mid-term investors! It is so easy to lose sight of why you started on this important road, and there are constant distractions and trade-offs but keeping true to your business beliefs will help keep you on track.
What has been the biggest lesson you have learnt in your career to date?
To keep evolving your skills, values and beliefs. Don’t assume you will always be at the top just because you have been successful in one venture. You need to keep growing, learning and applying yourself around challenges and hurdles.
And what is your main career goal for the next 5 years?
To continue to build great businesses, with passionate, smart and loyal people!
If you could advocate one company to the world (aside from Zapnito & your own), what would it be and why?
I strongly believe that any organization that consistently challenges and disrupts the status quo in the way that we search, interact, select and order, pay and consume services and goods. For this reason, Amazon serves as a great example of this. Of course, it is not the only one, but is one to “disrupt”!
Everyone has a brilliant app idea. What’s yours?
Unfortunately, and sorry to say, I don’t have one. I’m a great critic of one’s already out there, but not an inventor!
If you had £1 billion and had to invest it in only one of the following three, which would it be and why? 1. Virtual Reality 2. Artificial Intelligence 3. Renewable Energy
Artificial intelligence applied to the renewable energy space….. renewable energy has been in discussion with a multitude of options either in pilot stage or out there for many decades but there is no one solution. Artificial intelligence is challenging the way we think, interact with our “environment”, so perhaps bringing the two fundamental concepts together will yield an optimal solution.
Please do contact me if you would like to learn more about Zapnito or even to get in touch about my work. Darren