“Everyone is doing citizen journalism and video blogging. Why aren’t we being taught this? Why aren’t we being taught how to write online media, how to video blog?
Why are we still being taught the medieval practices of newspaper journalism?
When I graduate, I’m going to be working in digital not print.”
“And so I was googling on the internet of an institution or place where I could get training in online journalism and video production and nothing existed. Nothing.”
“And so I think I was having a conversation with my older brother, who is also an entrepreneur and which helps and he said, “Well, why don’t you start your own thing?” And I said, “You’re right. I’ll start my own thing.” And that was how Newspepper was born and that was 2007.”
“So nobody else in London was really doing like low-cost online video and that is really how we grew and people heard about us and they’re like, “Oh, my god. You mean, we can get a video for hundreds less of the price that this production – large production studio charges us.” We were like, “Yeah.” And you know word just spread and we ended up getting clients like BBC and Parliament in Channel 4 and we were just really saying “yes, yes, yes” and being open.”
“I was probably a pain in the neck… but I think that translates well to entrepreneurship because you always have to sort of fight the status quo and look outside the box and bend the rules and beg for forgiveness rather than ask permission.”
“I wasn’t always an entrepreneur. I had a job cleaning toilets in a friend’s parents at a hotel on the weekends. I would clean the toilets, clean the bedrooms; be the chambermaid. I (also) worked in a chocolate shop for a while and got very fat.
So I did have a couple of regular jobs before I got into entrepreneurship.”
“I can remember when I first started Newspepper, it was just me taking out a video camera and going to various free events that are on London and just taking my video camera and filming the event. And I remember I used to have to like put the camera on a tripod and run around and grab the mic and do the instruction and then run back around the camera.”
“Now I just make sure that I start to begin to say no to stuff and I have a great life partner. He helps relax and we cook at home together. But yeah, when I was single and living this crazy life, I did tend to get sick and not be able to slow down.”
“There is no barrier to entry anymore. It’s only your confidence or your fear stopping you. So get out there and start doing some research and then monetize your passion and spend the life doing something that you love rather than stuck in a cubicle working for some douchebag, having to travel an hour in traffic every day, two hours in traffic in job you hate which leads to an unhappy life. Why not choose a happy life over and on a happy life? And you can do that with the internet.”
James: All right. Welcome back my friends to yet another edition of the Big Value Big Business Podcast. I am your host James Lynch. I am really big, big, big time super excited about my very special guest today, her name is Hermione Way. Hermione is a new media journalist, reality TV personality and a successful entrepreneur. She is the founder of Newspepper.com, an internet video production company.
Hermione was also a featured cast member along with her brother on the Bravo TV reality show Startups Silicon Valley. Hermione would later launch a global startup competition that can be found at StartUpWorld.info. She is indeed one busy lady and I am very excited to have her slow down for just a bit to visit with us here for just a short while today. Let’s say hello. Hermione Way, how are you today?
Hermione: Very good. Thank you, James. Thanks for having me on.
James: Awesome, awesome. I am so excited to have you on. I really appreciate you taking the time to come out and I’m excited to get your ever so unique perspective on bringing big value in our day-to-day quest for success. Does that sound like a plan?
Hermione: Definitely. I’m up for it. Whatever you give me, I say yes.
James: You’re just got to keep swinging.
James: All right, sounds good.
Hermione: In America, you have this expression “go big or go home” and I love it. So I live by it. I live by it.
James: Wow. I did name my business Big Value Big Business.
Hermione: Yeah. That’s the right way to go.
James: Right on. Right on. I love it. So let’s get a little history now. I think our listeners can probably sense that you are not born in the USA, maybe tell us where you came from and a little bit about your journey that brought you right here to where you are today.
Hermione: Yeah. So it’s a fascinating story and it’s one that I can’t believe every day. Like I have to pinch myself to check that it is actually me that’s living this life because I grew up in a little tiny farm in a little village in Devon which is a county in the south of England and somehow I’m living this extravagant, amazing, incredible life in San Francisco now where I spent the last seven years traveling all over the world and meeting people like Richard Branson and meeting various other big names in the world of business and entrepreneurship. And I just had an incredible time and I owe it all thanks to the internet.
So yes, it’s been a fantastic journey. But to give you a little bit of background as I said I grew up on a farm, milking cows in Devon and I moved to London when I was about 13 and I did a degree in Journalism. And that is really when my entrepreneurial journey started and it started with a problem that I had and the problem that I had was I was doing this degree in Journalism and my degree was teaching newspaper journalism. I was like hold on a minute, newspapers are dying, everything is going online, everyone is doing citizen journalism and video blogging. There’s why aren’t we being taught this? Why aren’t we being taught how to write online media, how to video blog? Why we’re still being taught the medieval practices of newspaper journalism?
When I graduate, I’m going to be working in digital not print. And so I was googling on the internet of an institution or place where I could get training in online journalism and video production and nothing existed. Nothing. And so I think I was having a conversation with my older brother, who is also an entrepreneur and which helps and he said, “Well, why don’t you start your own thing?” And I said, “You’re right. I’ll start my own thing.” And that was how Newspepper was born and that was 2007, 2008.
So I’ve been going for about six years or seven years now and we just decided to take the students and graduates that were doing a media-related course whether it would be journalism or video and help them get internships in real world experience actually doing the job that they would become. And yeah, that was a long time ago and then as soon as I started my first company, people was like kept covering us, got a little bit of press. More people heard about me, asked me to do other things. I kept saying yes, yes, yes and suddenly here I am in San Francisco. Yeah, it’s just – it’s been an incredible journey.
James: So in seven short years here you are?
Hermione: Yes. And I haven’t stopped. I’ve been living the life for the million miles an hour. I’ve been flying all over the world to places that I didn’t even knew existed and it’s just been an absolutely incredible journey. I’ve interviewed Mark Zuckerberg well not one-on-one but I have been in the room as a journalist with him and asked the questions and Richard Branson, I hang out with him it was fantastic and it was like, “How did I get here? How did this little girl from a village in Devon get here?”
James: I want to touch on that a little bit, too. I definitely do, but I always ask and I think I know the answer but have you always been an entrepreneur or where there’s a point in time you actually worked for someone else?
Hermione: I’ve always been wild. At school I was very, very naughty. I was always the kid that was getting expelled. I would always ask why like teacher would explain something, I said, “Yeah, but why?” The teacher was like, “Because then they will learn.” And I was like, “Yeah. But why is that? Why? Why? Why?” So I wouldn’t ever accept just the answer that was given to me.
I was probably a pain in the neck for my teachers. But I think that translates well to entrepreneurship because you always have to sort of fight the status quo and look outside the box and bend the rules and beg for forgiveness rather than ask permission and no, but I wasn’t always an entrepreneur. I had a job cleaning toilets in a friend’s Parents at a hotel at the weekends. I would clean the toilets, clean the bedrooms, be the chambermaid and I worked in a chocolate shop for a while and got very fat.
So I did have a couple of regular jobs before I got into entrepreneurship.
James: Cool, cool. You said – actually I counted three things that are so indicative of some of the great entrepreneurs that I have had. You said, “I just kept saying yes.”
James: Just kept saying yes.
James: “I always ask why. Why? Why? Why?” Because the status quo is never good enough.
Hermione: Right. You got to — just when people will give you an opportunity, you just even if it puts you outside of your comfort zone, you just got to say yes and trust me like I’ve been outside of my comfort zone for so many times. I’ve had like, I got asked to host one of Europe’s biggest technology conferences and up on a stage in front of 3,000 people seven years ago when I was like 23, 24 years old and I just said yes. And the whole night before, I didn’t sleep. I was so nervous. My hands were shaking, but you know what? I just got up there and forced myself to do it and every time I’ve done it since the nerves have gone away. So you’ve got to say, you’ve got to get outside of your comfort zone and you just keep doing it until you learn to cope with it.
James: Yes. Again, some of the great people that I have talked to on this show, they speak to getting out of your comfort zone, that is the way you make the biggest strides.
Hermione: Yeah. It really is. It really is. I’ve been on numerous TV shows. I’ve done – we used to have regular slot on the news channel talking about technology. I was wracked with nerves. I could hardly talk. I mean, remember the guy saying, “Okay, can you put this microphone on your shirt.” I was like, “Oh, yes.”
James: I don’t see that happening these days.
Hermione: No. I mean, now, you got still to say much that you will just learn how to be natural in front of media. But yeah, it’s pretty scary at first.
James: Hermione, often aspiring entrepreneurs they don’t think they have what it takes or they don’t think they are good enough. What made you think that seven years ago, you have what it takes to get out on your own, build your own empire and do the things along?
Hermione: I didn’t. I just I didn’t really stop think about that. I just got out there and did it. And I can remember when I first started Newspepper, it was just me taking out a video camera and going to various free events that are on London and just taking my video camera and filming the event. And I remember I used to have to like put the camera on a tripod and run around and grab the mic and do the instruction and then run back around the camera. I mean, you’ve been there, right?
James: Absolutely. I love – I could just see you doing it, too. It’s kind of uncomfortable.
James: That’s how you get start in it and it’s awesome. Look where you are today. It’s great.
Hermione: Exactly. I mean, I didn’t really, I didn’t really think that I was good enough. I just kept doing it and I realized that the more work I put in, the more opportunities would come about and I just started Newspepper at the beginning of the second dot-com boom and the beginning of the social media revolution. So nobody else in London was really doing like low-cost online video and that is really how we grew and people heard about us and they’re like, “Oh, my god. You mean, we can a video for hundreds less of the price that this production – large production studio charges us.” We were like, “Yeah.” And you know words just spread and we ended up getting clients like BBC and Parliament in Channel 4 and we were just really saying “yes, yes, yes” and being open. Now I’m having to say no to some things, it’s like I said yes so much that I can’t actually sleep at night because there are so much going on.
James: Oh, I love it and that’s not a bad place to be when you have to turn down the opportunities. That’s great. I love it. So this is with the many projects that you’ve taken on, can you – just through your rise, there had to be some speed bumps. Can you share one of your biggest challenges and how you were able to get pass it?
Hermione: I think for me I went through a period especially after I did the Bravo TV show of getting a lot of panic attacks and suffering from insomnia. Sometimes I go five or six nights without sleeping and trying to operate on a busy schedule with no sleep, it’s just is diabolical. But now I just make sure that I start to begin to say no to stuff and I have a great life partner. He helps relax and we cooked at home together. But yeah, when I was single and living this crazy life, I did tend to get sick and not be able to slow down.
James: So it was your health basically and so you’ve learned through the years to be able to take care of you first, –
James: – to be able to keep up this pace.
Hermione: There are so many free events nowadays and like here in San Francisco, there are probably seven or eight events every night and you try to hit them all, they all have free alcohol. Suddenly, you don’t realize how much you’re drinking every night. Your health starts to deteriorate and I think now I’m just really focusing on myself and my health and doing a lot of yoga and exercise which is great.
James: That’s great. Yeah, I like to get in to some of those maybe those routines that help you be the best you can be a little further in our chat. So tell us just focusing on business, what is your – if you had a mission statement or a value proposition, what would that be right now?
Hermione: It’s a good one. I think just say yes.
James: I love that.
Hermione: I mean, if you’re out there and you’re like you haven’t got a job or you hate your job and you wanted to do your own thing, first of all, what do you love? What do you love doing? I believe that every single one of us, every single human being on this planet has a passion. Whether that passion is gardening or making hats or I don’t know like doing yoga and with the internet, you can now monetize your passion. There is going to be somebody else in the world that shares the thing that you love and if you can start creating content around that thing you love, it’s never been easier to start a business now. It’s never been easier to reach your global market and you have all the tools you need to do that in a laptop and the internet connection so and just got there, say yes, and go big or go home.
James: So those are at the core of your mission, say yes, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone or go big or go home?
Hermione: Exactly, exactly.
James: Follow your passion. There’s got to be somebody that’s out there is doing it. Find out what to do and how they’re doing it and do it better.
Hermione: Yeah. Yeah. And start with the problem that you have. What irritates you like does your coffee machine not made you coffee in the right way in the morning or does your shoes always slip off? Now, invent a better coffee machine or invent a better shoe. There is always another way of doing things. When the iPhone came out, we had five years of other manufacturers making smartphone. Nokia they had a smartphone. There are various android smartphones with the same features as Apple but what Apple did is they just did it way better and they made it simpler and made it easy to use and there’s always a another way of doing it. And you know what? If you fail, you can always go and get a job again. So what’s the harm in trying?
James: Absolutely. Absolutely – And when you talk about Apple and the other predecessors, they say, “Who? There’s only Apple.”
James: For most of us.
Hermione: Yeah. Exactly. So yeah, I mean I just think we’re living in a time, really exciting time, where if you want to go to gardening business or sell hats online, you can. There is no barrier to entry anymore. It’s only your confidence or your fear stopping you. So get out there and start doing some research and then monetize your passion and spend the life doing something that you love rather than stuck in a cubicle working for some douchebag, having to travel an hour in traffic every day, two hours in traffic in job you hate which leads to an unhappy life. Why not choose a happy life over and on a happy life? And you can do that with the internet.
James: That’s resounding and I’m going to play that clip over and over again. I love it. How about now – you’re a wild child, it’s all about guessing, let’s get it done, but you’re a businesswoman. What do you do – you mention, now cutting back on your social life as you get older and older and a little bit settled –
James: – what do you do for productivity accountability? How do you stay moving forward and on schedule and always moving and improving these days?
Hermione: I have a very clear expectation of people from the beginning. So I make sure that I fulfill my expectations that people have with me and I expect other people to fulfill their – my expectations of them, so now before I go into business, there is someone I always make sure. We drew up a contract. I mean, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a six-page contract. It could be just like an email outlining, what each party have agreed but I think that’s essential to have a good business relationship with people. And also in businesses there’s lot of politics, there are lots of things that are not going to happen in the way you want them and a big part of what goes wrong and what doesn’t happen, you just have to say, “Okay, well, we learned from that experience. Let’s try it again and make it better the next time.”
You can’t hold on to stuff. A lot of people – something goes wrong and they hold on to it and they carry that stress with them and they carry that like baggage with them. You just got to let it go and be like, “Okay, that business relationship didn’t work out or that person didn’t deliver or this didn’t happen.” But we’re always going to move forward and make it better next time. And also another tip is always pay people and always people on time. I’ve actually made the mistake before of being a lazy boss and not paying people on time and people don’t want to work for you in the future. You call them up and say, “But it’s a great job. It’s like 10,000 pounds or $10,000.” They’re like, “Sorry, I’m going with someone that actually pays me on time.”
So always pay your vendors on time, always pay your staff on time. It’s very, very important. And also you can be nice in business without being a douchebag. Like Richard Bronson, he’s a great businessman, very, very savvy but he’s actually a nice human being. He’s not a douchebag. He doesn’t treat people like shit. I think a lot of people fallen to the mistake of just because they got a bit of money and power; they think they’re the boss of everyone. They start to treat people badly and they give them the power trip. But just remember that life is always full of ups and downs. Say when you might be up one year, the next year you might be down. It doesn’t take a lot to be nice to people.
James: That is such a great advice from such a young lady but very well seasoned, very well business savvy. That is awesome.
Hermione: I like that well-seasoned.
James: You are. You’re young but well-seasoned, I’ll have to say.
Hermione: Yeah, I thought a lot. It’s been interesting. It seems very interesting.
James: That’s great, that’s great. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Hermione: You know I mentioned him before but I really do love Richard Bronson. I mean, the problem that I have with entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley is – are amazing entrepreneurs, I mean you have heard about what up deals, 17 billion, right? Making huge amounts of money but they have fun in life. They think if you’re not working on your next startup straightaway or working 50 hours a week and tearing your hair out then you’re not a real entrepreneur. But the thing I like about Richard Bronson is he makes billions of dollars, he makes a lot of money but he has a lot of fun doing it. He enjoys his time. He likes to like enjoy life and spend his money on helping other people, enjoy life with him and he has a very relaxed, laidback nature about business which I think other entrepreneurs don’t tend to have.
James: And you’re trying to or you’re trying to live that that type of business life with a balance?
Hermione: Exactly, exactly. And it’s hard because the more you put in, the more success you get and success is a very addictive thing. I was always been addicted to success and addicted to being online in the past couple of years, but I’m learning to get away from that and actually live life and do things that are non-business related.
James: Fantastic. And I’m going to get to that. Actually, we’re rounding out to wrap up, but this is the good stuff. Now, I want to talk about like what are do you going on present day or current projects and where we can find you hanging out? So what’s top of mind? What’s going on with Hermione these days?
Hermione: I have got so many things as in so many piles.
James: Let’s go. I want to be able to start with number one and I want to go all the way to the number 10. Let’s do it.
Hermione: So number one is StartUpWorld and it’s a global competition to find the world’s best startup. So think of Shark Tank? It’s kind of like Shark Tank, the startups and we’re trying to locate stuff or ecosystems outside of Silicon Valley. So last year, we traveled to 25 countries. We hold pitching events for entrepreneurs got up and pitch their ideas, and then we have the grand finale in Silicon Valley where we fly the regional finalist to the Valley and that’s a really quite project you could find about it at StartUpWorld.info.
Number two is Hollywood meets Silicon Valley. It’s a conference that I produce at Sundance Film Festival every year and it’s basically to track the convergence between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. I actually knew Mike Judge’s HBO show coming out about Silicon Valley and House of Cards was original series by Netflix. So Hollywood is changing very, very quickly because of the tech companies being built in Silicon Valley. I mean, you yourself are content craze now because of the internet.
Hermione: Then we produce that conference track convergence between the two industries and then I consult for a company called TrekkSoft. I ran their marketing. We are a software services for tour and activity companies. So if or have rafting company or want to take people on tours of Boston, you can actually set up a profile on their software and start making money and taking bookings straightaway.
And then what else do I do? I got – I have Newspepper.com, we do video production. I blog for various blogs TechCityNews, the NextWeb, Techfluff.tv
James: How can we find you? How can we get in touch with you online? Where are you hanging out?
Hermione: Facebook/hermioneway, @Hermioneway on Twitter. I probably say, I’m using Facebook more these days than Twitter. Of course, you can just email me Hermioneway@gmail.com.
So yeah, lots of places and I’m very open to getting stuck in and helping people.
James: You’ve been very generous with your time and you are really easy to talk to and get to come on the show. I really appreciate it and we look forward to maybe talking to you again in the future, see checking in with you see how all these great projects are doing.
Hermione: Yeah. Brilliant. Thanks so much, James.
James: Thank you, Hermione. Have a great day.
Hermione: All right and you.
James: Take care now. Bye, bye.