A Day in the Life – Interview with Brendan Morrissey, Founder of MobStar and Several Other Ventures
Brendan Morrissey is a serial entrepreneur who manages the development and growth of several tech ventures while trotting the globe. His career journey, which started in the 90s heyday of the American rock ‘n’ roll scene as a guitarist for the band My Little Funhouse, has taken him from concert stages in front of thousands of fans to the boardrooms of Silicon Valley and beyond. A natural ideas man, who is always open to listen to more, he is also a man of action, who prefers to fly through the clouds than live in them. This week’s Day in the Life interview gives us insight into his sharp, fast-paced mind and is truly inspiring for those wishing to do it all. Brendan, who balances his time between his projects and his family, the sky and his home in the Irish countryside, is proof that you can!
1. What time does your day start?
5am ish. When I travel I usually start at 5am because of jetlag and I always try and stay on European time zones so my body doesn’t have to adjust. I work in so many different time zones there’s always someone to call or mail…
2. Are you a tea or coffee person?
Tea, never tasted coffee. My God, me on coffee, there’s a thought…!
3. Tell us a bit about your job.
The Sunday Times called me a Serial Entrepreneur and that kinda stuck. I see opportunity everywhere. In the past month, I’ve become involved with a San Francisco music company the the Zuckerberg family just invested in and a cool new tech startup out of Dublin. Then I plug those into my network and off we go. Building trusted relationships around the world is key to my business.
4. What does your company do?
I haven’t quite figured that out yet. It’s more like projects rather than a company. There are 9 projects currently active. It’s easy getting into business, getting out is the hard bit.
5. What brought you to this area?
Today’s meetings in London are with Live Nation for touring artists in Asia, a MobStar finance meeting with a sovereign wealth fund, a Film Director that we’re about to finance. Only here for 24 hours then off again. I like to do it that way. Jam everything in and get out.
6. What does your typical work day schedule look like?
Start around 5am. Check mails quickly. Shower. One of the most important things you can do in a day. When I’m in Los Angeles I hike Runyon Canyon at 6am, gets the brain working. Then it’s back to back meetings until evening. I’m perfecting the art of the 22 minute meeting. You’ve said everything you want to say in 22 minutes.
Traveling is half my life, the other half is home or traveling with my family. Getting to show them the world is such a privilege.
7. What kind of projects are you currently working on on?
As I said, I am currently managing 9 active business projects! Will tell you a bit about each…
We just launched MobStar in India with Times Group (largest publication in the World). MobStar is the first global mobile talent discovery platform. The Apps are free to download. Talent upload 15 second videos, the world votes in real time like Tinder swiping and the cream rise to the top and work with some of the biggest mentors in Entertainment. For example, if you are an actor, you have the opportunity to be seen by Roger Birnbaum, founder of Sky Glass, Chairman of MGM and one of the biggest producers in the world and you can do it from your bedroom on your phone. It’s “Auditions without Humiliation” where talent no longer have to stand in front of Simon Cowell to get judged. I had to wait for smartphone penetration and data speeds to pick up before we did this so two years ago we started building MobStar and talent around the world love it. 5 star reviews. We just partnered with Viacom MTV India and we start pushing out those IP’s next month. I love India. The people, the energy, the opportunity with 1.3 billion people. I spend a week every month there learning the culture, trying to figure out how to crack it. If you ever come stay at the Taj Mahal Palace Bombay, my favourite hotel in the World. We launch MobStar Malaysia next then China, Korea focusing only on emerging markets. US and Europe are saturated with tech.
We set up eSchools four years ago and we were named one of the top 20 Ed Tech companies in Europe. Based here in Cambridge, we focused on K 12 and built our own niche in Education.
We wrote algorithms that cracked the DNA of music so we know what music is. We provide all sync B2b search for Omnicom globally
We work on packaging up and financing film through EIS, government tax breaks. Nothing too exciting
We just launched a cold pressed juice company in Ireland. We open our first store next month. It’s right on trend because everyone is so health crazy now.
I just launched this with the head of the Dubai Diamond Exchange. The platform provides search for all diamonds globally.
I have a bunch of professors working to build the most relevant mobile music search platform. Relevancy is still a major problem in tech
I’m getting into concert promotion in Asia. Because those countries are becoming connected and kids are now interested in seeing touring artists. India just overtook the USA as the second most populated smartphone market after China.
We have a small tech fund, trade bio diesel and some small business interests. Enough to keep me busy.
8. When is your most productive time of the day?
I used to think it was morning but it’s 24/7 now. Smartphones changed my life. Before that I would have to focus to be somewhere or do something at certain times, now all my work is with me all of the time. Hope I don’t sound like a workaholic, I guess I am a bit of a one but I know how to balance now. Before I didn’t.
9. What do you consider the greatest achievement in your work to date?
So many. Closing deals is always an achievement. With so many things going on there’s always a deal to be closed and I think I thrive on that. Launching MobStar in India has been a huge challenge and achievement. Going there, not understanding the culture, meeting the most powerful man in Media Vineet Jain owner of the Times and having him invest in my company, the vision to grow MobStar globally has been some achievement.
My friend runs a Sovereign Wealth Fund. We meet every few weeks in London. I tell him what I’m doing then he says “Yes we’re regenerating this country, that country, building the roads, hospitals, ports… homes for underprivileged families…” and I think ok you win, what I’m doing is so small and insignificant. Puts me in my place.
10. If there was any other job you could do, what would it be?
I started life as a musician. When I was 19, David Geffen signed my band to Geffen Records Los Angeles. I moved there for 6 years, recorded three records, toured the world a few times and played with bands like the Ramones, Chilli Peppers, Guns n Roses so if I had my way I would love to be a professional musician again because it’s my passion but you know when real life catches up and kids came along, I had to figure out how to work a real job. So now I tour the world but alone – no smelly tour buses or screaming fans!
11. How does technology support your work?
It’s everything to my work. My work is technology. I got into tech way back in 2006 when my friend at Apple told me to go meet this small startup called Facebook in Palo Alto. I went, loved what they were doing and came back to Ireland to set up Facebook Garages and teach people about social networking. Mark came over a few months later and set up their European Headquarters in Dublin. Bono claims he brought Facebook in but I was way ahead of him!
12. What is the one app you could not live without?
Hotel Tonight. I used to go to cities, book into a fancy hotel and stay there for the duration of my stay but now I love moving around with my meetings. Hotels Tonight allows me to do that. Experience new things, meet new people and all at the last minute.
13. What’s the best thing about managing so many projects?
The best part is I never know what each day will bring. It’s always something new. Last week it was meeting my old friend Slash from Guns n Roses in Los Angeles. We’re now working on a new project together so every week is an adventure. If you do what you love and you’re good at it, people want to work with you. It’s as simple as that.
14. Where is the after work hangout?
I spend most of my life on a plane commuting between Ireland, Los Angeles and Bombay and other places in-between so there’s no after work hangout I’m afraid. I don’t drink, never have so bars and hanging out don’t really interest me. I’m a bit of a technology prostitute, I go where the work is, do it and get out. My friend Kelly got me into skiing a few years back so I take some time for that and love it but other than that, it’s family time and work.
15. Who is your professional role model?
I have so many people who inspire me. When I think I’m busy or stressed, my three friends come to mind; Simon Fitzmaurice, Ian Davis & Steve Gleason, who are suffering with ALS / MND. Simon wrote one of my favourite books “It’s Not Yet Dark“, if you haven’t read it, please do. He was diagnosed some years back, they gave him two years to live but he fought the system and now lives on a ventilator and communicates through his eyes. He just directed his first feature film “My name is Emily” it’s truly wonderful. He directed the film with his eyes. Can you believe that… When he writes emails to me, I know it’s such an effort so I try never to complain about small stupid things anymore, I just think of Simon.
My friend Ian in Australia is new to the disease that’s consuming so many of my friends. Ian is a doctor with a young son. This is a terminal diseases with no cure. Ian has set up the Cure for MND Foundation and works tirelessly trying to find a cure. I did some work with the ALS Trust in Los Angeles for Steve Gleason (Ice Bucket challenge).
These 3 people are the most remarkable people I know. Their drive, their love for life, their love for the people who surround them, so when I get down or things go wrong they always pop into my head and I think you know I can walk, travel, hug my wife my kids, live life to its fullest so then things no longer bother me. My heroes.
16. How do you balance your personal and professional life?
“The Three D’s”… I DECIDE, DELEGATE, DISAPPEAR.
17. What are the top 3 qualities you look for in an employee?
18. What is the one piece of advice you would give to an entrepreneur starting out?
Do things that other people don’t do.
Get in touch!- www.brendanmorrissey.com