Leadership Journey : Panos A. Panay (Sonicbids)
Panos is the Vice President for Innovation and Strategy at Berklee College of Music, the Managing Director of the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) and a passionate entrepreneur, educator and startup mentor.
As the founder of Sonicbids, he created the leading platform for emerging artists to connect with music promoters, resulting in over 1 million gigs booked in over 80 countries around the world . He led the company as CEO for 13 years, from its inception until after its successful acquisition in a deal backed by Guggenheim Partners.
Panos is also the co-founder of the Open Music Initiative, which has brought together over 170 leading music, media, technology industry organizations and academic institutions to create an open protocol for uniform identification of musical rights owners and creators.
At Berklee, his work and approach to entrepreneurial and innovation pedagogy builds heavily on the concepts of music thinking as a catalyst for innovation and creative breakthroughs in business, life and art; and has spearheaded multi-disciplinary collaborations between Berklee and MIT Media Lab; the design firm IDEO; and Brown University.
Awards include: Fast Company's "Fast 50" honor; Inc Magazine's "Inc 500”; Mass Hi-Tech All Stars; Berklee College’s Distinguished Alumnus Award; and Boston Business Journal’s “40 under 40”, BostInno's 50 on Fire and Boston Globe's 2017 Game Changers. Sonicbids and Panos were also profiled in a chapter in the Financial Times-published book "Outsmart" by best-selling author Jim Champy.
He writes frequently about startups and entrepreneurship for blogs and publications such as Forbes, WSJ Accelerators and Fast Company; and guest lectures and speaks at many universities and events around the world.(Courtesy LinkedIn)
Making use of technology, Panay figured out how to connect thousands of aspiring musicians and small bands with promoters who needed their talents. Sonicbids is akin to a musical matchmaker. Some 10,000 promoters use the site to connect with Sonicbids’ 120,000 musician members, a quarter of whom are from abroad.
In the process, Panay offers both the promoters and the musicians a proactive customer-service operation, which is, in effect, the character and personality of the business.
Panay has proved both his capacity for difficult work and his ability to see what others don’t. And his vision does not stop with the music business. He has only begun to tap into what he sees as another neglected market.
Here are six ideas that spring from Panos Panay’s success with Sonicbids:
- Connect the dots. Opportunities lurk in neglected fields everywhere, especially where people take dysfunction as the expected way of life. You can look within your own industry for the same kind of opportunity Panay discovered.
- Think global. Sonicbids had one office, but it is quickly becoming a global giant. Because of technology, your customers, business partners and competitors are everywhere.
- Scale quickly. Scale is important when you are building any kind of community-based business. But achieving scale is not just about signing up people.Your service has to offer value to all participants.
- Keep checking your intuition. Particularly in today’s business climate, with its smarter, plugged-in consumers, you can’t afford to take a chance with a major change. Check it out so that you can spot the pitfalls and profit thereby.
- Pay attention to service. High-tech businesses still require much human interaction. Panay points out that a little human touch can help define the character and feel of your business.
- Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. Panay’s plans for expansion and his visionary notion of how large his neglected field might be are both bold and sensible.