Stoke Mentor Spotlight: Patrick Peters

Patrick Peters is our Tuesday mentor at Stoke, here from 12-1 PM in conference room two. He’s had a strong career in media and tech and has founded three companies over the years. Like many of us, he loves a good story.

Read on to hear about Patrick’s experience, what he thinks it takes to be good mentee, and what he loves about Denton!

What industry are you in?

I've always been at the nexus of media, technology, and data. That's taken different forms over my career, ranging from early development of interactive television technology , advertising and content models, to data-drive web business and publishing, to, currently, what I would call media analytics. We collect data from TV viewers with our software, so there's a technology element involved, but we use that data to create analytics to drive brands', content producers, political campaigns and other marketers' messages on television and other media.

What is your job title?

I'm part of the management team at FourthWall Media. As an entrepreneur, titles have never really been my thing. I think my title is SVP of Marketing and Business Development, but lately I've also been called Head of Brand and Agency Partnerships. I think I was also GM of Political Data and Advertising at one point, too. Or something like that.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do (day-to-day or big picture)?

I've worked with the same team since 1989 across three different startups. So, my day to day is whatever needs to be done to advance our cause in the marketplace, and the marketplace has two parts, our corporate value, and our value among agencies, brands, programmers (these are the programmers who make television content) and marketers. Most of my time and energy is spent telling our story to various constituencies -- working across the data team, the product team, and clients, with a dose of fire fighting for the outside investment community.

What is a memorable project that you’ve been involved with and are most proud of/What has been your favorite experience/project working in your field?

I'm relatively, um, seasoned, so there are a lot of mostly positive memories. We created content that generated over a billion phone calls back in the early 90s. In the early 2000s we created a company that went from zero to a thousand clients in just over a year. At FourthWall, we were nominated for an Emmy (twice) for our interactive TV work, we were at the forefront of using data for television targeting, working with the Obama campaign in 2012, and now we're working hard to change how the $70b television advertising business works.

What was your path into your business/doing the work that you do?

Long story. I was in between graduate school programs and was asked to come to Texas for one year to help my brother start a company. Because I was a graduate student, I was about the cheapest employable person he knew. That was in 1989. We took that company public in the mid 90s. I never went back to graduate school.

Why did you choose to offer mentorship at Stoke?

For a number of reasons. I was part of the first wave of TechMill board members. I am a big believer in the "start and stay" model of community development and supporting startups to start in their city or town, and stay in their town or city, and that the municipalities should support those startups. Stoke is an embodiment of that idea. Plus, I'm an advisor to Marshall and Kubos, and he asked me to. What was I going to say?

What do you enjoy about the mentor/mentee process/relationship?

Getting to be at the first stage of ideas. Nothing cooler than that. Wide open fields of opportunity. Unless it's a bad idea. Then you say, "that's a bad idea."

Are there any memorable mentors that you had in your career during pivotal/important moments?

Sure. I could list a lot of folks. Some older, some younger. We can learn from anyone.

What do you look for in a mentee? /What qualities should a mentee have?

Good entrepreneurs are problem solvers. Someone who can move really fast, fearlessly, and adjust when they learn new things.

What qualities do you think that you have that make you a good mentor?

I'm old. I've been in just about every startup situation.

What's your definition of an entrepreneur? How would you describe one?

See above.

What would make you ‘proud’ of your mentee? What do you consider ‘success’?

If someone can start a business and employ themselves. Pretty cool. If they can employ another person, even cooler. If you can employ 5 or 10 or 20 people. That's a home run. I'm not concerned about 100x or unicorns. Not that that isn't phenomenal, but think of the impact one small company can have on a community...

Do you have any advice or insight that you would offer to someone starting out in your field, or recent graduates from your program if applicable?

Listen. Ask the market what it wants. Be fearless. Fear eats the soul. Learn how to communicate clearly. It's a vastly undervalued skill.

Favorite coffee/restaurant/bar in Denton? What do you get?

All the coffee!! Oh my god. So much coffee. Lately, I've been into Thai on the Square. Working my way from #2 to #3 heat.

Is there anything else that you would like for us/readers to know about yourself?

I love a good story. Meet me. Tell me a story, I'm your friend.

Thanks for your insight Patrick!