Steven Galanis is the Founder & CEO of Cameo, a startup that allows you to book personalized shoutouts from your favorite people. Cameo has raised over $65m in VC funding with a reported $300 million valuation from some big names including Kleiner Perkins, Lightspeed, and Spark Capital and Chicago’s very own Chicago Ventures, Origin Ventures, and Starting Line. Before founding Cameo, Steven was a film producer, account executive at LinkedIn, and an options trader in Chicago.
Starting Line VC: A new Chicago-based venture capital firm, founded by Ezra Galston, one of our top early podcast guests and trusted partner of many of Chicago’s hottest startups. Check out what they’re up to at StartingLine.vc.
“It really starts with having an idea that you’re so passionate about that you basically can’t focus on what you’re doing.
"I’m sitting in the hot-tub with my buddy Will on New Year’s day, and he said “Steven, this idea is too big, if somebody else builds this idea, and you’re still working at LinkedIn, and that person becomes a billionaire, could you live with yourself?” And for me the answer was so clearly no, that I literally never went back to LinkedIn and started on Cameo full time before we’d even sold a single video.”
"We had done literally hundreds of videos before we built any real tech to it.”
"For three minutes, this dot is on the site and nothing happens - Are they gonna buy, are they gonna buy, are they gonna buy - the dot disappears, we are so dejected, and then all of the sudden I get a DM on Twitter…”
"We knew that if we could make one person feel like that, that we could potentially make millions and hopefully billions feel like that at scale.”
"One of the core values of the company is “Fight for Simplicity” … To build something like Cameo that’s never been done before, we knew we had to make a product that was so fun that talent would do it for free, but we got paid.”
"One of the great lessons that I learned was “Don’t let Great get in the way of Good Enough””
"If you really have product-market fit, people will run through walls to get your product. When that payment processor didn’t work, that dad DM’d me to say “Hey I want this for my daughter.” I can’t remember the last time I wanted something so bad that when the link didn’t work, I found another way to get it.”
"We really believe we need to build something ubiquitous and that means running the gamut from priests to porn stars, and everybody in between.”
"We had just done our 100,000th Cameo and that was the first incident we ever had. I’d put our safety record up against any platform that’s ever existed.”
"It really just comes down to authenticity, especially in the early stage. Just having a really good personal reputation helps a lot. (on early fundraising)”
"The most important thing to know is if you have an idea, you shouldn’t start it unless you literally can’t stop thinking about it. “If somebody else builds your company, and you’re sitting in your cushy job, would you regret it for the rest of your life””