Cameron Fowler is the co-founder and CEO of Digital Seat Media, a real-time fan engagement technology platform connecting fans to brands, sports teams, and artists through QR codes and NFC technology. Prior to founding Digital Seat, Fowler spent time as a technology consultant for multiple Fortune 500 corporations including Intel Corporation, General Motors, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Reebok and Boeing. Past notable projects include Intel Corporation’s facial recognition retail platform, Mary Kay’s inventory management system, and General Motors’ digital lead collection platform.
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We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Cameron Fowler: I am the co-founder of Digital Seat Media, which is a fan engagement technology company. We have built a hardware and software platform that allows fans to scan a QR code located on their armrest inside of a sports or entertainment venue to instantly engage with interactive modules all without having to download an app to their mobile device. These modules provide different levels of functionality from ordering food to your seat, purchasing an exclusive NFT, viewing live game stats, purchasing tickets to upcoming events, and more! We currently have our Digital Seat tags installed into 40+ venues across the United States.
We also have clients which use our platform for brand activations and other live events such as festivals, fashion shows, esports events, retail activations, etc. Wherever brands want to connect with their target audience, that’s where Digital Seat becomes an asset.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Cameron Fowler: I believe that capital conservation is going to be key over the next 12-18 months due to the current fundraising climate. Because the investment markets have been frothy for a while now, I believe that there have been several runaway valuations that could have been avoided if there was more focus on profitability vs maximizing valuation.
If these past few years have taught me anything, it is to expect the unexpected because the business you are running today might look very different tomorrow. You have to be ready to adapt and pivot if your industry changes based on factors that are outside of your control.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Cameron Fowler: I think that showing prospective clients how you are going to help them drive new revenue in a very simple and easy-to-understand way is key. Even though the pandemic is not as all-consuming as it was in 2020, businesses are still facing a lot of decisions and having to work through a lot more red tape, which takes up time. Providing a turnkey solution that generates revenue and makes your customer’s life easier will give any business a leg up on the competition.
In the technology sector specifically, running a lean company that has a path to profitability is going to be an important factor when dealing with the capital markets for the foreseeable future. If you show an investor that you are working towards breakeven and not spending money on unnecessary expenses, then you will have a much better chance of garnering funding
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Cameron Fowler: Obviously, when the world shut down in 2020 it had a devastating impact on live events, including sports. At Digital Seat we had to buckle down, cut salaries, and focus on what our platform could provide in the event that the shutdown of the live events was longer than originally anticipated. During those first few months of the pandemic, we spent time creating an incident and safety reporting platform we call Safety Scan, which is now being utilized in venues across the country.
I believe that the pandemic also rapidly accelerated the adoption of several technologies in our industry such as contactless payment, QR code scanning, mobile ordering, and the use of digital tickets. All these verticals are now pieces that we offer within our platform because of the fact that consumers are now much more comfortable using the technology.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Cameron Fowler: I wish we had begun creating more partnerships in the early days. Now our ecosystem is filled with great partners that are best in class in their respective industries from mobile gaming, food delivery, live stats, etc. At one point we were really working on building a lot of pieces in-house that we now partner with companies to provide.
I have learned that we don’t need to do everything ourselves, partnering with people and companies that are very passionate about their products and working alongside them makes us stronger.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Cameron Fowler: Too many! I would say at least 10 hours, which can’t be good for my eyes.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Cameron Fowler: We use the general tools that most companies use such as Slack to communicate efficiently, but we also have a very open-door policy at Digital Seat. Most of the walls in our office are only ¾ high, and when we have meetings, we make sure we include a lot of different divisions of the company so that we can get multiple perspectives, which I believe helps our product grow.
We are a very teaching-oriented company where a good idea is a good idea, it does not matter if it comes from the customer success team, development, marketing, etc., when we hear a good idea, we work to put it into our platform.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Cameron Fowler: For our business specifically, we are working to change a mindset that has been engrained in teams and leagues for over a decade now, which is “there’s an app for that”. Apple did a phenomenal job marketing the app store and reminding everyone that there is an app for everything they could ever want, but the issue in our opinion is that we have a sense of app fatigue now.
Teams and leagues have invested a significant amount of money into their team apps, which they were 100% right to do, but I think we also need to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that every single person walking into a venue is not going to have that app on their phone.
At Digital Seat our biggest challenge is explaining to these teams that we are not out here trying to replace their apps, which we aren’t, but that we are trying to complement them and give them the ability to communicate with every fan that is inside of their building. It takes a while to create change, but most of the time when we sit down and explain what our platform can do and that we are not trying to take away users from their native app, we have very productive conversations.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Cameron Fowler: We already have a few partnerships in the Crypto/NFT space which we are very excited about. For example, at Vivint Arena, home of the Utah Jazz, fans are able to scan their Digital Seat tag, tap on the CoinZoom module and purchase Utah Jazz NFTs. We really believe that giving fans the ability to purchase NFTs directly from their seat has a big future in sports and entertainment. Furthermore, providing exclusive NFT which is only available to fans that scan their armrest during an event, and perhaps provide utility outside of the arena, is a market where we see a lot of growth for the foreseeable future.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Cameron Fowler: Hindsight is 20/20 and I think human nature is to not recognize our flaws until a troublesome event has taken place. Having said that, I believe that a focus on people is something that is being taken very seriously right now, as it should be, and employees are reaping the benefits of that. A lot of times CEOs get the credit for a company’s success, but we are just one cog in the wheel of many. The employees are the ones that help create the product, understand the customers, and really make a company into what it is on a day-to-day basis. Keeping employees happy and motivated should always be just as important as landing new clients in my opinion.
Training a new employee is more expensive than keeping one in most cases, so that should provide motivation for a lot of bosses should take that into consideration, but also, it is just more fun to work around happy people! Going into an office where people resent you or don’t want to work for you can’t be an enjoyable experience, so having happy employees who want to be at your company will also make your life much easier.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Cameron Fowler: Being able to know exactly what goal the customer was trying to achieve would be extremely helpful. When we pitch our product, we cover every bit of functionality we provide, but if we knew exactly what the customer was trying to accomplish up-front it would give us a good place to start from a sales perspective.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Cameron Fowler: Our goal is to have Digital Seat tags deployed on 2 continents, in 75 venues, and on 25,000 student IDs to provide mental health resources by the end of 2022.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Cameron Fowler for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Cameron Fowler or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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