Dan Goman is an American entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of OWNZONES Media Network, a software company targeted towards providing the post-production and OTT industries with ground-breaking innovations, from digital supply chain solutions to unique, customizable video apps.
Born in western Romania during the communist regime, Goman’s parents were university professors before they were fired from their positions for refusing to stop expressing their dissent at the government’s totalitarian activities and religious restrictions. After struggling to provide for Goman and his eight siblings, the family was granted political asylum by the United States and emigrated from Romania when he was seven years old.
Goman’s family settled first in Los Angeles and then Seattle, Goman learned English by watching American television shows, and his interest in technology was sparked early in his life there when his father purchased an old IBM computer and some floppy discs for him. He taught himself programming using the computer, and later learned the challenges and rewards of owning a company when he assisted his parents with their copy and print center.
Goman is a graduate of the University of Maryland, and worked at large companies such as AT&T, Microsoft, and Lucent Technologies helping to advance their technology before starting OWNZONES. He has worked across the United States with software companies in California and Texas, gaining technical knowledge that he put to use at Microsoft where he was a software developer and network management specialist where he managed their entire network worldwide across all of their devices.
In 2009, Goman started his company OWNZONES as a content company focused on breaking the industry conventions of bundled linear content. A crucial aspect of his business model lay in his company owning the streaming technology used for its content delivery system, and he along with his research and development team of software and technology experts were able to rapidly develop patent-pending technology in an industry that was relatively new but quickly growing. This success in technological innovations saw the company pivot from a content company to a service company providing supply chain solutions and innovative cloud-native technology.
Where did the idea for OWNZONES come from?
Initially, OWNZONES was founded to be a multi-platform streaming service that would aggregate SVOD (subscription video on demand) channels and offer them to consumers à la carte on a subscription basis. This was very much an anti-cable play, as in 2009 the core idea was that broadcast would transition to digital and streaming channels would explode. Our company grew successful in this endeavor, but as the technology for digital services such as supply chains was nascent and expensive we ran into a lot of tech challenges during our development. Rather than wait for the technology to be developed elsewhere, we took the development of it into our own hands and decided to build our own. Our content partners took notice of how useful and innovative the technology we had created was, and that demand initiated a pivot for our company to provide B2B services. Today, we are the world’s premiere content servicing, content supply chain platform that is 100% cloud-native.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I don’t think there is a typical day for me. As CEO, my main jobs are to problem-solve and make sure the company as a whole is running smoothly, so what I do varies greatly on any given day. I do often feel that too much of my time is spent throughout the day in meetings and phone calls. That is one thing that I can say happens with consistency — my plate becomes so full in the day, the only time I feel truly productive is super late at night when most things are quiet. During that time I feel like I can actually think, so that is when I often take care of a significant amount of work items.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think the reason OWNZONES has been so successful is that our team is very quickly able to bring ideas to life. I am a strong believer in quick iterations. Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to develop a solution that is perfect from day one, focus on getting something working. From there you can iterate it to perfection, a process that you would ideally involve your customer in as well. In that way, you ensure the best outcome by remaining on the same page and knowing their expectations from the start.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The general transition of everything into the cloud is super exciting because of the freedom it brings. The current global pandemic is actually a perfect example of this in action. Not too long ago, if we were all forced into quarantine productivity would have been next to zero. (Of course, VPN has been around for a long time, but most companies did not design their VPN solutions to handle all of their employees all at once, nor for an extended amount of time. They were always problematic in that regard.) Today, when the world stopped and we went into quarantine, all we did was take our laptops home and we were fully operational. No different than working in the office. OWNZONES’ platform allows this freedom to the entire M&E industry and our customers love it.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am a voracious reader, and I believe every entrepreneur can benefit from the knowledge acquired through reading. I try to make sure and set aside time each day to allow for me to read and research — both about things within our industry, but also whatever else may interest me that day. Reading can provide you sources of inspiration, tips and business strategies, and also help you develop new skills. There have been studies that link reading to the brain’s ability to retain information and that it boosts your analytical thinking. I know that as an entrepreneur we learn more from mistakes than successes, and I try to read about people I admire so I can learn from the struggles they went through and opportunities that arose from them.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Probably to slow down and relax. When I was younger I was so worried about trying to make things happen as fast as possible for myself. While a sense of urgency certainly can be an asset, I was constantly stressed, I didn’t sleep well, and was overall less healthy than I am today because of it. Things don’t happen overnight, and I think the old adage “slow and steady wins the race” is not only true, but is also a much healthier mindset to adopt as early in life as you can.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Apple cider vinegar is magic for your body. Vinegar in general has been used as a home remedy for thousands of years — the ancient Greeks would use it to clean wounds — and apple cider vinegar in particular has probiotics in it that are good for digestive health. More recently, studies have begun to show the positive effects apple cider vinegar have in preventing blood sugar spikes, which can affect weight loss. It may be anecdotal, but I personally have felt a major improvement to my personal health since I have incorporated apple cider vinegar into my diet.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Exercise. Definitely exercise. I would say to stay physically fit, you should never let a week pass without at least one good workout — preferably more. Being an entrepreneur is absolutely grueling. You are constantly grappling with uncertainty, and are held personally responsible (as well as personally liable) for any decision you make. In order for your business to succeed, you have to rapidly develop expertise across a multitude of areas such as finance, marketing, operations, and human resource management. You are taken to your limits, so having a fitness routine is an absolute must, as you cannot be successful if your body breaks down. Besides physically, the stress relief and mental well-being exercising provides is imperative to good decision-making.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Listen to the customer, deliver what they ask for and you have the dream platform. Customers are among your best critics, as at the end of the day they are your target audience. Like I spoke about previously, developing a product in iterations and then working in tandem with your customer to bring it to perfection is one of the key components of our business model. No matter how many rigorous tests you do, your customers will find increasingly more creative ways to break your products or find loopholes in your services. In that way, you can consider customers to be the best beta testers available, and being open about that with them from the outset is one of the ways we have been able to scale our business the way we have.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Failure is part of the equation as an entrepreneur, and the best advice I have for how to overcome it is to be prepared for it, and then develop the skills to quickly learn from it and move forward. Experience is the best teacher you have, so it is important to develop the mindset of seeing failures as some of the best opportunities for growth and improvement. In allowing yourself the freedom to fail you also end up making better business decisions, because avoiding risky situations or ideas because of a fear of failure prevents you from truly innovative thinking.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
After the pandemic, I’m not sure life will ever go back to “normal” as it was. The cloud now allows a vast amount of people to work remotely, and even before the pandemic brick and mortar retail stores were struggling to keep up with their online counterparts. Movie theater ticket sales were dwindling as streaming was becoming more and more popular, and Amazon’s two-day shipping policy meant you could get virtually anything delivered to your doorstep with relative ease. Now, post-pandemic I expect these shifts to be even more apparent, as we move towards what I would call “the home-centric economy.” Developing or shifting your business model to a home-centric approach for things such as shopping, dining, entertainment, etc. is necessary right now, and businesses that enable and cater to this will do well.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
So this is a little more than $100, but I have to mention it because it’s such a game-changer. I am traveling constantly, and my number one rule for travel is to never check your luggage if at all possible. It costs you money, time, and you run the risk of your belongings being lost or stolen to boot. However, this rule can prove difficult when you are on an extended trip as you must decide between packing lightly and potentially being forced to find a local cleaning service or packing heavier and losing the ability to check your luggage. For that reason I recently decided to try the Nomatic Travel Pack and it is AMAZING! Tons of pockets fit more stuff than you can imagine, and it allows you to go on extended trips without checking luggage. I highly recommend it to anybody who travels frequently.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I recently started using the fitness app FitBod to manage my workouts. It uses an algorithm to build a personalized workout for you each day based on your current strength-training abilities, then helps you improve by studying your past workouts and pushes you to go a little harder each time. It also adapts to your available gym equipment, which is a godsend for when I’m traveling. While it doesn’t help my general business productivity directly, it’s been a game changer for me in the gym which as I’ve mentioned does help my overall performance. Probably the best app I have — hands down.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb. I’ve been working on finishing this book for a long time, but I think with the advent of the pandemic it’s now more relevant than ever. It is about the extreme impact of rare and unpredictable outlier events, and our tendency as humans to try and find simplistic explanations for these events, often blinding us further to the greatness of their impact. It really makes you think about things in a different way, and although Taleb has gone on the record to make sure people understand he does not consider the pandemic to be a “black swan” event (in fact, he said it is a “white swan” if there ever was one), I think it is still hugely beneficial during this time.
What is your favorite quote?
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo
I think this really ties back to what I said previously about failure. If you are too afraid of failure to take any risks, your company is never going to get off the ground. That’s not to say that you should charge blindly into any and all decisions you make, but by analyzing all potential outcomes, looking at the worst-case scenario, and coming up with a contingency plan, you can set yourself up for success while also preparing yourself for the potential failure that comes with taking risks. Failure is not fun but there is no one formula for success. It’s always a trial and error process where we choose whether or not to learn from our experiences.
When traveling, pack light, smart, and never check your luggage.
Take your time, and iterate your products using customer feedback.
Be resilient. Be prepared to fail. Learn from it and move forward.