SwitchCam: Perfect Startup Mentor? MacGyver, Obviously

Remember how MacGyver used to take pencils, a piece of gum, a mirror shard and an armadillo paw and make a nuclear detonator out of it to escape his captors? Yes, that's how you build a start-up.

It's not that far from the truth. Startup founders need a more than a healthy dose of ingenuity -- to get around the people saying "No"; to find solutions where only problems seem to exist; to make from scratch something that is not real, yet -- so taking inspiration from a mythological TV pop culture icon should make a lot of sense. This is another one of the many interviews we are doing with startup founders and developers about what it's like to really build something.

In a continuation of this series, we talk with Chris Hartley, the CTO of SwitchCam, a web app that helps you stitch together multiple angles of an event to watch them seamlessly, just before the Media Camp Demo Day happening on September 13

Media Camp is an accelerator helping push through development of media-based startups on the web and an in mobile. 


Here's the SwitchCam team. You can follow them on Twitter.




Chris Hartley, CTO Switchcam Opening Statement (I guess you could even call this a pitch)

Switcham is redefining interactive video by creating immersive, non-linear video experiences that harness the video taken by the people closest to the action. I've been a developer of submarine sonar systems, stock market trading algorithms and now run technology for switchcam.com. 


What has overjoyed you in the past month?

Honestly, a simple comment left by a total stranger on the Switchcam website: “thanks internet for letting me relive the best concert of my life”. When people talk about the broader termed “internet” they're referring to those internet treasures that shape it – wikipedia, Facebook, icanhascheezburger, etc. To be contributing to the wonder of “the internet” and having that level of impact on people, I couldn't be happier.



What have you learned about managing a technological business that you would pass on to the next generation?

Don't fall for the hype – great businesses are built rather than chanced upon. It's true that large  empires are being built faster than ever thanks to the internet but the deciding factor on which ones succeed is the ability to stick to your guns and deliver something valuable. Keep laser focussed on creating value and doors will open.



What signals from your consumers do you look for to signify that you are winning?

As a video entertainment platform we have a tonne of monitoring in place for the qualitative metrics but we really sit up and listen to the qualitative feedback. Any consumer entertainment business is about making people feel something – hopefully something good – and the beautiful thing about an online business is that your customers are never more than 140 characters from telling you how they feel. And trust me, they aren't shy to tell you.



Who would you like to be your mentor, and what would you ask him or her?

Definitely MacGuyver. As a startup CTO, time is always against you and you never quite have the resources you need – I would definitely want to ask him “how do you consistently create innovate solutions from nothing, no matter what your adversaries throw at you?”.


 Watch for the Media Camp Demo Day on Twitter. Follow @themediacamp to get more information. They will be using hashtag #mcdemoday.

If you would like to apply for your startup to be a Microsoft BizSpark-supported startup, you can find more information and a link to the application at our website.

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