Our days are often brightened by the sunny spirit and colourful wardrobe of Gabe Banner. We had a chinwag with this growth hacking expert to find out a bit more about the man behind the multi-coloured attire.
Introducing Gabe Banner - Growth Hacker, SEO expert, Painter, Father and creative PLATF9RM member. So, Gabe, you are Head of growth at VILLOID, can you explain to us a bit more about the company and what exactly your role involves?
VILLOID is a new endorsement lead shopping platform connecting influencers, fans and brands, allowing products to be shared, promoted and sold based on endorsements. We are co-founded and creatively directed by style icon Alexa Chung.
For our BETA we have already signed up influencers with an accumulative reach of 60 million followers. By the end of 2017 we will have reached 100 million. We offer a shopping experience that is used in over 180 countries. Our company was feted by the likes of Elle, Forbes, The Sunday Times, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.
We could rest on our laurels but we know that the internet waits for no man, woman or website.
Before VILLOID, As a growth hacker I helped build more than 100 startups for clients around the world. Many of them tried to achieve what VILLOID managed to do from the beginning - Community and Engagement. People literally love VILLOID. For example when we sent them our newsletter, we received replies - people saying they were happy that we messaged them. It's crazy!
I could say my job is to provide support and advice for teams with regards to strategic topics, to provide 24h support for CEO, to be always on watch, social media monitoring, google monitoring, bugs reporting, investigations, researches, SEO, Customer Experience, Features Development, Analytics - BUT - in fact, my main task is to manage LOVE from the community of our users.
Tell us about your experience of working with the British style icon Alexa Chung, is she really as nice as she seems?
Alexa breaks all schemas. She's a model, TV presenter, journalist; author; company director; fashion designer; Instagram superstar; millennial style icon. Honestly, if she was not so nice you'd hate her. Her creativity, good taste and at the same time the distance to herself and the lack of snobbery makes her an absolute heart of VILLOID's culture. She is the real queen.
BUT VILLOID is not only Alexa, We have Karin (CEO), we have Jeanette (co-founder). In our company women are in charge. This distinguishes us from the most of tech startups. In VILLOID we combine soft skills, like relationship building and emotional intelligence with advanced technology. Our 'Visual Recognition Tool' isn’t the most sexy phrase in the world but damn this software is fine.
You are an expert in influence marketing. This is a fairly new form of marketing, what drew you to working in this realm?
My background is SEO and growth hacking. I'm rather an introvert, a bit nerdy and shy. I'm a techie guy. What I like are charts, metrics and numbers. But I realized that I had to abandon the old school programming and turn my interests to the channels based on human relationships. Emotions trump data. People feel before they think. Communication trumps technology. Communication is the leading factor for product/service success. People trump products. People care about people, not products.
You have a masters in intermedia and multimedia arts. Were you always interested in the arts?
Painting for me is like gym or yoga. I do not do it professionally. I just try to keep my mind in good condition. When I'm painting (mostly portraits of my family) the best business strategies come to me. The art world is ruled by completely different principles and to understand it we need to activate other areas of the brain.
Your instagram is filled with lovely photos of your son, is he also interested in art?
Both his Mum and I try to build his early memories on experience and we don't push him into doing anything that doesn't come naturally. Our son is our best friend. I do not teach him painting, he learned himself because he saw me painting. It is similar in other areas. We like the same movies, the same music, we like to do the same things in our spare time. Everything we do we consult with him; our family is made up of three equal units.
What do you like most about co-working at PLATF9RM? There is rumour on the PLATF9RM grapevine that you are collaborating on various projects with other members…?
Yeah, that for me is probably the best thing about working here. It is very difficult to gather a lot of independent, eminent individuals in one place, that's what PLATF9RM does. PLATF9RM 's community is the world league. Somehow Brighton is very similar to San Francisco (where I spent a lot of time). You guys should to think about expanding your business with an accelerator (like 500 Startups) because I'm sure that soon a £1B startup will be born here. Or perhaps someone is working on it already...
The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. What is your favourite time of year?
It depends on my location. In New Zealand, where I lived before Brighton, it is currently spring. Honestly it's my first European autumn for years and I'm really enjoy it.
What will you be doing this christmas?
My second baby is coming, so we will use this period for preparation.
What is the number one thing on your bucket list?
There are 94 things on there! Getting a tattoo is probably the top of the list right now.