Q&A with Damien Pellicione, Co-Founder and CEO of Revry
Damien Pellicione is the CEO and Co-Founder of Revry, the world’s first LGBTQ+ global media streaming platform. In this Q&A with Launch With GS, Damien shares why he chose to build a business with 4 equal co-founders, and why a framed letter from a user sits in his office to remind him of the mission behind Revry.
How did you get started? What motivated you to start your company?
The company was inspired by The Apple TV (4th generation) back in 2015. I was sitting in my hotel room in Germany, leading business development for a SaaS streaming company called Make.TV. I don't speak German, well not very well, and decided to tune into the September product launch live broadcast from the Apple HQ theatre. I am a self-proclaimed apple-file and must have all the new toys when they come out. It is like my geek Olympics - I live for this show! Tim Cook, one of my personal inspirations for leadership, introduced the new TVOS operating system and demonstrated the new Apple TV. Immediately a light bulb went off, and I started to conceive of this concept for a specific LGBTQ streaming service. Cut to November, when the Apple TV 4th Gen hit the stores. I found myself first in line to buy one. I then went home, installed it on my TV and immediately started searching for LGBTQ apps. Nothing popped up. Not one LGBTQ app. That was when my idea was confirmed and we made history 4 months later as the 1st LGBTQ app ever built for the TVOS platform.
What has been the most exciting moment of building your business? The most challenging?
The most exciting moment of building Revry was the almost immediate response we received from our own community. We launched in Beta at San Francisco Pride on my birthday in 2016. My co-founders and I drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco in crappy pink t-shirts that we’d printed ourselves and hit Dolores park with flyers to show the app on our phones for anyone in the park who would listen. We handed out more than a thousand flyers that day. People assumed we worked for a street marketing team, and it was great to be able to reply with – "we work for ourselves, I am the CEO, and over there in the corner is our CBO and at the other end of the park is our COO". They were shocked at how dedicated we were to marketing our own app – and thought we were totally crazy. By the end of the weekend, we were interviewed by the local news and MacWorld, the leading Apple trade publication. Once the MacWorld interview came out, we received more than 5 thousand installs across 50 countries overnight. It was infectious. The most exciting moment, however, was when we received the first letter from an openly gay man in Saudi Arabia expressing how touched he was by our app and how he had previously thought he was totally alone in the world previously. He had never seen a gay film before discovering Revry. He said that Revry gave him hope that he could one day lead his life openly. That letter is framed in my office and serves as a constant reminder of our true mission with Revry -- we believe representation in media can and does save lives.
Who are the people in your life that have been critical to your success?
My friends and family are the most supportive and have been the most critical to Revry's success. During these past 5 years since we had the big idea to create Revry, my co-founders and I have had to sacrifice our spare time, holidays, birthdays, weddings, social gatherings to be able to focus on building the company. Alia, LaShawn and Chris and I are extremely lucky to have the most supportive parents and families who truly believe in us. Without their love and constant support, I do not think we could have gotten this far. We do not take that for granted. We always joke that one day we want to buy all four of our moms a trip somewhere together so they can finally meet each other and swap stories from our journey. We love you Revry Moms!
What are you most excited about over the next 6-12 months?
I'm excited to see our company grow and move to the next phase of our business. For the first four years, we were building on an idea and forecasting what we believe the future of TV to be. We are lucky that some of our theories were correct and are starting to pay off in a big way. What excites me is the dream of something bigger and our access to get there. We finally have access and connections to truly help accelerate our vision to the next level, and I'm excited to see how that future will unfold.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best piece of advice I was given very early on in my career was shadowing a former CEO from a previous startup. He taught me that building relationships in business will always take you further than the transaction. The stronger those relationships are, the more successful you become as an entrepreneur. I impart the same advice to my team at Revry, which has been one of our greatest strengths as a company.
What has the Launch With GS Entrepreneur Cohort experience been like for you?
This program has literally changed myself and my co-founders lives. It has been an invaluable opportunity and one I will cherish for the rest of my life. I'm so grateful to have been a part of this first Cohort.
It takes a village: Who are the people in your life who have helped you build your company into what it is today?
When we first started pitching investors, we would get ridiculed for being 4 equal co-founders, but I'm forever grateful to have built this company with three other amazing co-founders, who were always there for me even in my darkest hour. And vice versa. I was lucky enough to be there for them and return the favor. Building a successful company literally takes blood, sweat and tears. There are times I wanted to give up, and so many times I felt like I could not take another step or get motivated to leave my bed. Building a startup is hard! You cannot do it without support. I truly believe that building a successful company starts and ends with the team and passion behind the vision. That has never changed in the 5 years since we began.
What’s the advice you’d give to your younger self that you wish you knew then?
Never be afraid to fail! Fail big! Fail hard and most importantly, learn from your past mistakes. I learned so much from all of my previous attempts at being an entrepreneur prior to starting Revry. Sometimes I didn't understand why I failed – now I look back and see each of those failures as my college education.
What’s your leadership philosophy?
My leadership philosophy has always been to inspire others. That has always been my one true objective in life. Those who inspire others can inspire great change. And as Steve Jobs says, "those who are crazy enough to change the world, actually do."