When a customer logs in to his or her Verizon FiOS TV webpage, a new fresh homepage with integrated video and the latest news will be displayed. In addition, consumers will be able to access their TV programing from virtually anywhere in the world on any device connected to the internet. This experience is made possible by Synacor. The new platform will be rolled out to the rest of Synacor’s customers in 2015. We were interested in Synacor’s history and its new platform, so we spoke with George Chamoun, Founder and President of Sales & Marketing, and a former Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Tell us a little about yourself and Synacor. How did you start the company?

I always knew that I wanted to start my own business and had the opportunity to after I graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo in the spring of 1997. I started Synacor as a messaging infrastructure provider. Then in 2001, we merged with an infrastructure provider, and combined, we eventually became what Synacor is today. Synacor’s mission was, and still is, to help clients deliver branded, personalized media to their customers across multiple platforms.

As you know, today’s consumers are very connected to their devices. They want the same content that is available on their TVs to be available on their computers, tablets and phones. Our product makes this possible. We saw the demand and were able to offer a solution ahead of the trend. For example, if you are a Century Link customer, Synacor allows you to access programing on your iPad, iPhone, or other device that used to only be available on your TV. Our unique authentication technology identifies users and allows our customers to provide them with personalized and relevant content.

What has been the biggest challenge Synacor has faced?

The end consumer is constantly evolving, acquiring new devices, new technology and looking for new ways to connect. If we stand still, we will be left in the dust – we have to constantly change to the evolving climate. This means learning to pace innovation with customer upgrades as well.

How  does Synacor attract and retain talent and what can other middle market companies learn from your approach?

Each of our offices, in Buffalo, Boston, Toronto, Ottawa, and New York City, has been successful in attracting top talent because we pride ourselves on offering an exciting work environment with interesting and impactful projects. Some of the perks include free fruit, foosball tables and 25 cent vending machines. We also offer flexible work schedules and try to create a fun office environment.

In addition to the perks, our associates work on cutting-edge projects that involve advanced advertising and revolutionizing the TV experience. We’re in 27 million broadband households in the U.S. It’s exciting to work on projects that your friends and family “get.” Everyone gets what it means to watch TV on his or her favorite devices.

Sourcing and recruiting is always a challenge for middle market companies because they fly under the radar and don’t have the name recognition of larger firms. How has Synacor overcome this hurdle?

I can think of a couple examples of how Synacor has come up with unique and creative ways to showcase our company and highlight the perks.  When our Boston location was looking for software engineers they created a video featuring the company explaining why an individual would want to work for us. 

We also launched a competition, Synacor Challenge, which was a way for us to engage with potential candidates and end users since we are primarily a B2B company. The Synacor Challenge was held at different industry engineering events and was a cross between a scavenger hunt and skills test, and coders loved it. It introduced skilled talent to us and us to prospective employees.

What is next for Synacor? Where do you see Synacor in five years?

It is our mission to be the trusted technology and revenue partner for our customers. We are committed to delivering the next generation of consumer engagement including multi-screen video and advanced advertising.  We recently acquired Nimble TV which will allow us to do just that. Moving forward we will continue to invest and innovate in order to deliver the best in class product for our customers. 

What advice do you have for other middle market executives?

The themes that have been most prevalent to me are innovation and communication.

If a company does not innovate, it will become irrelevant. If you look at any industry, companies that remain stagnant will falter. There is always another company that is creating new products and looking to take market share.

Communication plays a direct role in innovation and technology has made it easier. By communicating with your partners and customers, companies can anticipate what is next and stay ahead of the trend.

What advice do you have for students?

Students need to stay up to date on current trends and the best way to do this is to read. I can’t stress this enough. No matter what your major is or where you are in your career, if you have kept up with the current trends you can step into the business world and add value.

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