Damien Mahoney

Damien Mahoney

Explorer of AI + marketing solutions

Tell us who you are. 

I am CEO and Founder of software company Stackla. Stackla has 60 employees and offices in San Francisco, Austin, New York, London and Sydney. We work with some of the world’s biggest consumer brands including Toyota, Expedia, World Rugby, Canon, Nintendo, NVIDIA and Air France.

Describe the work that you do.

Stackla is a visual content discovery platform that sources high-quality, user-generated content from the social web on behalf of our customers, then stores, recommends and distributes this content to their digital platforms, such as websites, ads, emails or social channels.

What inspired you to do this work?

The idea was conceived when working as a digital consultant with the National Rugby League. It was 2011 and social networks were booming, as were smartphones. Almost overnight, the power of content creation and distribution went from the hands of the media and brands, to anyone who had a phone and a social network account. This content was high in quality, authentic and produced in incredibly high volumes, and could be used by brands, publishers and organisations to fuel their own marketing efforts. We set out to build technology that could tap into this rich stream of content and put it into the hands of brands whose need for content had skyrocketed since the advent of the internet.

How does this work help you explore NEW solutions to problems?

Building a company from scratch is all about evolution and iteration. The solution you came up with to a problem you confronted last month, may not work this month. Therefore you need to be able to quickly adapt and adjust your approach to get the same (or a better) result. As you would expect in a growing business, the challenges are never-ending. Dealing with remote teams, large (and small) customers, competitive threats, investors and meeting the expectations of your team as a leader requires the ability to think nimbly, decisively and hopefully with an amount for foresight.

What’s your dream for this work?

My dream is that I can extract the full potential out of this company and the incredible opportunity I have. Apart from meeting my own expectations, I want to repay the immense faith and trust that has been put in me by my team, investors and family. In different ways and to varying degrees, they’ve put part of their destiny in my hands, and that is a responsibility I take very seriously.

How do you imagine that this work will change the world?

To borrow a line from the sitcom Silicon Valley, “We are making the world a better place by helping brands sell more stuff!” I honestly don’t take too seriously the impact our technology is having, but we are seeing a genuine shift in how our customers try and communicate with their customers through our tech.

What would your advice be to students to inspire them to bring the spirit of enterprise and innovation into their studies and lives?

Put yourself out there, have a crack at anything and everything, and if you fall, get up again. Looking back over my career, I’ve always been a serial entrepreneur and dream chaser. I’ve got a long list of things I’ve tried, with wildly varying levels of success. Different things I’ve tried included selling newspapers in pubs as an 8-year-old, starting a music magazine after leaving university, trying to crack it as a rock star and professional footballer (not at the same time), stints as a sports broadcaster and journalist. Apart from the newspaper thing, they were all things I was passionate about and chased with a high level of optimism and enthusiasm, but not always with great execution. But I was always willing to give it a go. If you’re in the race, you’re always a chance of winning, just ask Steven Bradbury.