Wednesday Feb 15, 2012 by Keith Cline - Founder, VentureFizz
CampusLIVE is a high growth startup in Boston that raised funding from Highland Capital Partners & Charles River Ventures. The company recently hit a major milestone by crossing the one million engagements mark!
VentureFizz: Can you talk about your upbringing and what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
Boris Revsin: I was born in Russia and grew up in a household that placed an enormous emphasis on education and learning. Both of my parents are computer engineers. From an early age I was taught to code, to program and to think critically. That said - I was never one to stick to a path of traditional learning. Although a good student in high school, I often spent my time thinking about how to create extra cash (or trouble).
At UMass Amherst, I began the computer science track with the full intent of getting my degree, but quickly became involved in about a half-dozen web projects. Some of these projects were eventually sold or banned by the school (yes, seriously). Somewhat frustrated with my classes, I decided to grab an opportunity with the Mitt Romney 2008 Presidential campaign. I deferred from UMass Amherst to become a project manager for Romney's social fundraising, blogging and social media applications.
That campaign ended gloriously, and I returned back to Amherst in the summer of '08. It dawned on me that I had some coding skills, a few solid mentors and an opportunity to create a start-up with some smart people. That's when I joined Jared Stenquist (Co-Founder, CTO) and the crew at CampusLIVE.
VF: What is CampusLIVE?
BR: The team at CampusLIVE provides our community of Gen Y’ers with entertaining pieces of interactive content we call Challenges. Challenges are bite-sized contests, trivia and games around subjects such as pop culture, music, movies, sports, brain teasers and more.
VF: How does the business & revenue model work?
BR: On the business side, CampusLIVE is a Surge Marketing platform that helps brands jumpstart marketing campaigns by engaging the highly influential Gen Y market, on a deeper level than ever before. We provide brands and agencies with special access to our community. In exchange, these partners provide our community with rewards and incentives they couldn't get elsewhere. We're fully performance based -- only charging for interactions that are valuable to both users and partners. In fact, we guarantee consumer activation for our partners, for whatever action they need.
VF: What lessons have you learned along the way since starting CampusLIVE?
BR: Force yourself to think big. People get excited when they are presented with something bigger than themselves. It's a daily thing -- but if you are convinced that what you're doing is important, so will everyone around you. And you need a lot of people’s help and support to survive and succeed. Big, big, big.
VF: What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs in Boston who are starting a company?
BR: You don't know until you try. When you try it won't be perfect. Keep learning from your tries, and keep trying. It would shock so many new entrepreneurs to learn how many times their favorite idols have "failed" before they succeeded.
VF: The market has been very active in terms of hiring and talent is in short supply. What has worked for you, in terms of building out your team at CampusLIVE?
BR: Ryan Durkin (our Chief Operating Officer and founding teammate) and I believe that culture fit is of critical importance. The best way to attract new talent is to show them why working with you will make every day better because they are working with people they like. It starts with referrals, and that means finding the right people (internal or external) to filter the best talent to you.
VF: What’s the current pulse of the Boston startup community? What can Boston improve upon in terms of retaining or attracting more startups & entrepreneurs?
BR: I think the Boston startup community is just starting to explode. Tons of things to do and more and more interesting people to meet. I'm proud of some of the folks in the community who keep stirring the pot and keep people interested. Good work!
We just need more engineering folks from the top schools to stick around. How can we do that? Build awesome companies that people talk about. That's all we can do.
VF: What professional accomplishments are you the most proud of?
BR: I know that I have the privilege of working with some really special people -- many of whom will be executives and CEO's in the near future -- and I am most proud that we've been able to assemble such a rock-star team in such a short period of time.
VF: What do you see for CampusLIVE in the next six months?
BR: The past few months have been very exciting for the company. We've seen our community multiply by a factor of ten, and we’ve added some very large brands such as McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, Microsoft, and Ernst & Young as clients. The next six months are huge for us, as we expand into new markets, create more awesome Challenges, and raise new capital.
VF: What are the last 3 books you have read?
1) Mastering the VC Game by Jeff Bussgang
2) The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
3) How to Castrate a Bull by Dave Hitz