Zapnito Advisor Insight: Michael Cairns' story

A True Expert and Zapnito Advisor. I was interviewed as a Zapnito advisor recently - here's my responses
Zapnito Advisor Insight: Michael Cairns' story

Please tell us a little bit about yourself

Professionally, I’ve been involved in helping publishing and content companies deal with transformation. That work encompasses digital transformation but also business process reengineering, sales force realignment, partnership and alliances and fund raising. I’ve worked for small and large established businesses, several startup businesses and I’ve also worked as a consultant on my own and at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.  Personally, I live in New Jersey across the river from Manhattan but I lived in five different countries before I went to college. I have a Westie.

How did you end up becoming a Zapnito advisor?

Charles reached out to me after he saw the research I had conducted on the market for software and services for publishing companies.  I conducted this research recently as a personal project but I had conceived the idea several years ago when I was working to save a business in serious financial difficulty and we were seeking new capital.

Why is Zapnito necessary and important today?

Increasingly media companies and others which produce content integral to their businesses want to engage with their customers in deeper and more meaningful ways. A platform/solution like Zapnito provides that capability. This enables the publisher to build stronger relationships with key constituents which in turn enables (or convinces) them to add more content, build relationships among themselves and creates a unique universe of interests, points of view and/or expertise. Publishers see this strategy as a game changer in the way they view their relationships with core constituencies.  I actually touched on this in a recent blog post.

How do you see Zapnito’s business developing in the next 5 years?

To a significant degree it will be determined by the users: the publishers on one side and the communities created on the other.  Zapnito will evolve according to their priorities and needs.  I think to the degree Zapnito is considered a ‘safe haven’ for communication and relationship building this will drive expansion and success of the platform.

What in your opinion/experience is the single-most important skill in running a successful start-up?

Flexibility.  Both in terms of continuing to evaluate your model and strategy so that you can course correct where needed as soon as possible and in terms of the things the CEO has to be ‘expert’ at.  With a start-up everyone has multiple roles (not least the CEO) so they need to be ready to jump in to any and all situations to address problems and/or opportunities.  Generally speaking, experience and common sense are your best friends in these circumstances.

What has been the biggest lesson you have learned in your career to date?

Always treat people with respect and consideration.

And what is your main career goal for the next 5 years?

I enjoy consulting but I would prefer to manage a business as CEO.  I’d like to take over a business where I can add my operational and strategic expertise to expand the business significantly as I have done in other instances.  To get to design a strategic plan, execute on it and then see the results achieved over a 2-5 year time is very gratifying.

If you could advocate one company to the world (aside from Zapnito & your own), what would it be and why?

The Economist.  I’ve been a reader and subscriber for 30+ years and in this day and age to be able to rely on clear thinking, well researched and useful insight is money well spent.

If you had £1 billion and had to invest it in only one of the following three, which would it be and why? 1. Virtual Reality 2. Artificial Intelligence 3. Renewable Energy

None. There’s more than enough money chasing these things at the moment.  I’d use the money to advocate for criminal justice reform, prison reform and prison/criminal education programming.

Please do contact me if you would like to learn more about Zapnito or even to get in touch about my work.