A good idea is an absolute necessity when it comes to starting a business, but it is by no means the only factor in whether that business will see success. The fact of the matter is that anybody can come up with a good idea – over half a million new businesses are started in the United States alone each year by people who believe they have done just that. However, nearly the same amount also permanently shut their doors each year and the five year survival rate for any small business startup is only 51 percent. Yes, anybody can have an idea – the businesses that are able to achieve success and longevity are run by those who have the ability to bring those ideas to life.
This was something Gurps Rai, founder and chief executive officer of the artificial intelligence-powered digital media platform droppTV, found out for himself. His “aha” moment came after watching the viral music video for “Hotline Bling,” when he searched for hours in vain for information on where he could purchase Drake’s red puffer jacket. He soon found out he certainly wasn’t the only person looking for it, and wondered why with the technology available today nobody had created a way to simply tap on a product in a video and buy it directly from the screen.
The answer was, people had. Many people in fact, but none of them had succeeded in turning that idea into a successful business. After researching these former companies further, Rai found that all of their products had failed to create a truly seamless experience for the viewer, instead relying on clunky interfaces that proved too distracting from the viewing experience to be an effective solution. For Rai this was poor execution of a good idea, and he set about building a platform that would do justice to the shopatainment experience – allowing viewers to consume entertainment and shop without differentiating between the two.
Gurps Rai recognized that as with any technology startup, one of the most important aspects of his company finding success would be through gaining the capital to develop his platform. Although he had worked in the financial services sector for much of his prior career, he knew that he would be better served playing to his strengths of formulating ideas for the company and brought in Christopher Kelly as chief financial officer to focus on raising funds for the business. Together the two have been able to play to each other’s strengths, as Rai has steered the company to develop partnerships with musicians, athletes and brands, and Kelly has helped droppTV raise over $15 million in its series A funding round. Although their backgrounds couldn’t be more different, together Kelly and Rai have been able to play to each other’s strengths and collaboratively build one of the biggest up-and-coming tech companies in just a few short years.
Rai’s story is one of overcoming adversity to achieve success. Born into poverty, he has said that he was often discouraged from dreaming as a child and the environment he grew up in was one that made it seem that there were no possibilities for a better life. However, he eventually chose to ignore this way of thinking, instead believing that anything is possible if you can envision it and work hard to achieve it. Moving to the United Kingdom, Rai began his career in financial services working for First Rate, a specialist broker with a goal of establishing a cost-effective foreign exchange services solution compared to those offered by most High Street banks. Within the company, Rai handled foreign exchange transactions for large businesses based in the commodities market, proving himself to be an adept businessman when it came to actualizing goals. This is where he developed his investor network by establishing a personal relationship with his billionaire clients.
Always one to keep his finger on the pulse of trends, Rai was also an early investor in blockchain, becoming an investor in the cryptocurrency VEN. Through his connections to the global commodities and cryptocurrency market he was able to become the first person in the world to successfully orchestrate a commodity trade using a virtual currency. The international offset deal between Nike, WinRock and the American Carbon Registry brought together three giants within their respective industries, and because of his landmark achievements he was asked by Sir Richard Branson’s company Carbon War Room to host an event related to the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 17.