Evan wray
Co-founder of swyft media

What do you do? Tell us a little bit more about the business you are running right now. 

I’m the cofounder of Swyft Media, a mobile engagement platform that allows brand and agencies to connect with users in some of the world’s top mobile messaging apps (Facebook Messenger, Viber, BBM, Skype, Snapchat, etc.). Our platform directly connects our brand customers to 1.5 billion monthly active users across 30+ messaging applications. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with over 300 brands, including Miller Coors, Ford, Universal, PUMA, Disney, Kraft Foods, Unilever, and many more. In 2015 Swyft was acquired by Monotype Imaging (NASDAQ: TYPE) for nearly $30M. Since the acquisition, I have been running Swyft as the consumer products division with my cofounder, Sean O’Brien, and we have grown to 65 employees worldwide. 

In addition to Swyft, I have recently found Wray Holdings, that has a three prong focus of QSR Franchises, Real Estate, and Strategic Investing through the entities Buddy Franchises, Buddy Properties and Buddy Capital. To date Wray Holdings includes multiple real estate investment properties, alternative private equity investments, and 8 Arby’s Restaurant Franchises. We have an internal goal to grow to over 50 locations by 2018. Very shortly we will also be opening up the Buddy Foundation for charitable endeavors. 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?

I love the daily challenge and competitive nature of business. I’ve been an athlete my entire life playing American football through college. Business and entrepreneurship is the ultimate competitive game and I love that I can wake up every day to do something I love and employ hundreds of people along the way. 

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST THING YOU STRUGGLE WITH AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?

Focus is a must, and also something that is continually challenged. There is always another partnership, another deal, another opportunity, and it is easy to chase the shinny new object instead of focusing on what works and what is scalable. 

DO YOU THINK THAT ENTREPRENEURIALISM IS SOMETHING THAT IS IN YOUR BLOOD? OR IS IT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE LEARNED?

I believe that the risk profile necessary to be a successful entrepreneur is something in your blood, but the strategic and operational expertise to execute successfully can be learned. This is why it is SO important to surround yourself with the right people to help you achieve your goals. 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE FIVE KEY ELEMENTS FOR STARTING AND RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS?

I’m sure this is different from entrepreneur to entrepreneur given everyone’s strengths, but for me it is: 

- Building a strong Board of Advisors

- Focus – opportunity can drown a start-up

- Never be afraid to ask, sometimes you’ll be surprised by the answer

- Set goals, write them down, and look at them every day

- Every once and a while pause and look back at what you’ve accomplished, it will amaze you 

WHO HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST INSPIRATION?

My father, who passed away my freshman year of college. Everything I’ve done is based on the lessons he taught me and the name “Buddy” is in honor of him. 

IF YOU COULD OFFER A FIRST-TIME ENTREPRENEUR ONLY ONE PIECE OF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I’m going to cheat here and include two in one, because I believe they are equally important. Surround yourself with the strongest Board of Advisors possible, as they will help you avoid those road bumps along the way. And set goals, write them down and read them everyday day. It is amazing how easy this is, yet so many people fail to do it. 

Go get ‘em!