Published by The Startup Growth
Founder Series Source Link
The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.
Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.
Can you tell everyone your name, please?
My name is Justin Bastian, CEO-founder, Executive Producer, and Creative Director at Socent Studios.
Tell me about your education?
I am an alumnus of “Inveniam Viam University” (IVU). Inveniam Viam or “Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam” is Latin and translates to English as, “I will either find a way or make one.”
IVU is a representation of achievement for entrepreneurs or practitioner-scholars who have never attended or graduated from college. In specific fields such as medicine, engineering, the physical sciences, and law, one cannot argue against the position that a degree is essential. However, outside of these and a few other rigidly regimented fields, the degree’s value in the working world is more of a formality rather than a true marker of a quality individual.
In 2010, Bloomberg conducted a survey to determine the number one source for S&P 500 CEOs. Through this survey, Bloomberg discovered that the number one source was the School of Hard Knocks or “IVU” (tied with the University of California) for CEOs of S&P 500® companies. Harvard was the #3 source (along with the universities of Texas, Missouri, and Wisconsin).
Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?
Though there are undoubtedly many, as it relates to becoming a Social Entrepreneur the lessons I learned as an at-risk youth and proud alumnus of Cleveland Ohio’s Positive Education Program (PEP) helped shape my understanding of our uniting humanity and my responsibility to it. Through my teacher-counselors, it was here that I first learned about the power of resilience, imagination, community, and that big ideas about hope and future were possible.
As it relates to becoming a startup founder, the lessons I learned at the beginning of my professional journey as a commission only, door-to-door sales agent taught me the power of vision, communication, adaptability, leadership, and indefatigable persistence (hustle) in the face of seemingly impossible odds.
As a CEO, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t leverage the truths I discovered about myself and the world I am apart of via my development years at PEP or while leading national charts, Direct Sales forces, and inevitably my own companies through North American markets for Fortune 500 clients. Reflecting on these things today reminds me that an attitude of gratitude holds the keys to the kingdom.
We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.
Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?
I am fortunate in that my two greatest professional influencers are also my dear friends, colleagues, investors, and Senior Advisors today.
Years ago, and through an improbable series of events, frontier and translational scientist, global CEO peer coach, and senior NASA human-centered R&D leader Gary Riccio, Ph.D. began challenging my ideas, vision, leadership, and entrepreneurial practices pro bono. I think we spoke for nearly 4 hours on our first call. Gary and I quickly became friends. Gary was the first professional mentor I’d ever met that made me feel like I could truly spread my wings and fly as far and wide as my heart, intellect, and imagination would allow. Nothing was impossible, no intuition too crazy, no idea too big, and no matter where I went with my creative vision, Gary was not only right there with me, he was often five steps ahead. He also had an uncanny way of pulling me down whenever I flew too close to the sun.
Several years ago and also through an improbable series of events I would meet VC/PE-backed global CEO-founder and decorated 22-year special operations veteran, Morgan Darwin. At the beginning of our relationship, we would share with each other our project passions and discuss obstacles that all CEO’s face. Morgan and I quickly became friends, and I couldn't wait for our calls. Then one day out of the blue (and to my shock), Morgan and his wife offered to become my first investors at Socent Studios. Their faith in me and capital contribution (immediately followed by my dear friend and Socent investor, Matt Mondero) enabled me to journey to eastern Congo to listen, learn, and develop critical relationships to launch Socent. Since these early days, Morgan continues to challenge and guide me in the areas of strategy, tactics, and leader development. He also has an uncanny way of inspiring me through his infinite humility.
I am lucky to have such menschs in my life today, as without them I could not be where I am.
Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.
What is the name of your company?
Where is your company located?
What services or products does your organization provide?
Selected by Ohio’s largest major newspaper as a Top 5 Northeast Ohio Disruptor, Socent is producing interactive transmedia to edutain, inspire, and mobilize millions of online gamers toward durable impact in our world.
Socent Studios is raising capital to produce its flagship, data-driven, online impact video game franchise with senior top-tier Sony Online Entertainment Developers responsible for generating billions in IP revenues. Our first game title is, THE DEADLIEST WAR: A WORLD GAME FOR PEACE (WG4P.) Featuring AFRI ANU (the greatest superhero for peace ever imagined), WG4P is a triple-A narrative-driven, boss-beating, action-adventure video game designed to edutain, inspire, and mobilize millions of prosocial gamers (Conflict Electronic consumers) toward peace in Congo. United through an immersive superhero’s journey, e-Democracy community tools, and empowered imaginations we can end the deadliest struggle for peace and human dignity since WWII.
Earning three film festival selections, Socent has produced four short films since 2017: A WORLD GAME FOR PEACE filmed in Congo; YOLE!AFRICA filmed in Congo and screened at The Oxford Union by Fred Bauma and Robin Wright; RUST BELT RENAISSANCE filmed in Cleveland, OH and selected to the 42nd Cleveland International Film Festival and the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival 2018; and #CLE4DRC filmed in Cleveland, OH and Congo, also chosen to the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival 2018.
Socent Studios has produced a DIGITAL GRAPHIC NOVEL FOR PEACE in Congo, recently completing Volume 1: The Story of Yalala (3 Acts). This original IP was developed in solidarity with Fred Bauma and disseminated by internationally recognized non-violent youth movement LUCHA RDC to freedom fighters on the ground in eastern Congo.
What problem is your business trying to solve?
Today, we are focused on creating a durable impact in the areas of Conflict Electronics and the deadliest struggle for peace and human dignity since WWII.
How is your business unique against your competitors?
First mover, original IP, patentability, exclusive relationships, and a differentiated strategy
How did the idea for your business come to fruition?
Congo’s world-leading struggle was introduced to me by a dear friend and U.S. Navy SEAL. Shortly after that, I would discover Dr. Jane McGonigal’s Ted Talk, “Gaming Can Make A Better World.” Within minutes of watching her famous Talk, the vision we lead today struck me like lightning. After executing my duties at my previous game studio, I exited to birth Socent Studios, develop our disruptive narrative-driven triple-A video game for peace in Congo, and launch our empowered online community and World Games franchise.
Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?
Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.
What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?
In general, I think the most persistently difficult aspect for startup founders are the never-ending emotional highs and lows we face. Rarely do we feel ourselves on even ground in those early-stage years. In variations, all founders deal with isolation, fear, doubt, rejection, familial scoff, personal and financial sacrifices (and sometimes hunger), loneliness, and depression. You can let go of these things for a while, but they always return in some form. This and more are all a part of pursuing our passions, developing our ideas, recruiting top talent, raising capital, and animating confidence, patience, leadership, and team toward mission success.
Some days you kick its ass, other days it kicks yours. The sooner we embrace and make peace with this process, the faster our ascension.
I’ve found it equally important to make time to meditate, exercise, do my best to consume healthy fuel, and keep at least one infinite muse close to my mind’s eye. Whenever I’m facing my darkest moments, I concentrate on those heroes who’ve endured far greater struggle than I ever will and succeeded. Sometimes this practice also affords me serenity in the storm.
Last but not least, remain adaptable, adjust in stride, lead through humility, and never forget that your indomitable persistence wins the war.