236: Bootstrapping a $300M Cinema Company, With Grant Petty of Blackmagic Design

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“I don’t think CEOs should be able to be CEOs if they can’t code,” says Grant Petty, founder and CEO of Blackmagic Design.

That’s a bold statement, but Petty is a bold guy. Working as an engineer in the television industry, he realized the technology was overpriced. So he started a company that cut costs and put power into the hands of creators.

“Really what I was doing was a protest against the way the TV industry was,” he says.

And soon, Petty began to challenge the status quo of business in general. He runs his company a little differently: There are no spreadsheets, very little planning, and to him, metrics hardly matter.

“In the Western world, business culture becomes so rigid and so inflexible,” he says. “If you’re a creative person, you can get destroyed by that because they don’t allow you to exist.”

Today, Blackmagic Design boasts nearly $300 million in annual revenue and is still 100% bootstrapped. Its technology is used by 80% of modern day feature films. We sat down with Petty to discuss what he’s learned about how to run a meaningful business in the face of opposition.

Key Takeaways
  • How his frustrations with the TV industry inspired him to start Blackmagic
  • The story behind Blackmagic’s first product and how he got it off the ground
  • The challenges with getting funding and the struggles he faced when he decided to self-fund
  • The “wave of hatred” that can come when you try to disrupt an industry
  • How long it took to become an industry leader
  • How to know when it’s the right time to add a new product to your line
  • Balancing his creative side with the operational duties of being CEO
  • One common thing that’s destroying creativity in businesses
  • Blackmagic’s culture and how it fosters creativity
  • What’s next for the company

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