I had the pleasure of interviewing David Harouche, Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer at Multimedia Plus. For more than 20 years, Dave has developed innovative, technology-driven programs for a broad range of clients, making Multimedia Plus the foremost provider of learning and communications solutions and a resource for market intelligence. Dave oversees all company operations. Prior to founding Multimedia Plus, Dave worked at Ann Taylor in a variety of roles, from systems training and support to video production. Dave earned a B.S. in Finance and Information Systems from New York University and graduated with honors from The Stern School of Business.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
When I was going into my senior year at NYU’s Stern School of Business, my parents insisted that I get some practical work experience. Throughout college, I was filming weddings and bar mitzvahs. I got an internship working at Ann Taylor Stores’ corporate office, providing support and training on PCs. One day I was helping an administrative assistant with her computer and I overheard a conversation. The Sr. VP of HR wanted to videotape the annual fashion show at the store manager’s meeting but the quotes they had received were astronomical. I couldn’t help myself and reminded them that I had production equipment and was happy to provide a quote. They became my first client.
As MMP started off as a video production company more then 20 years ago, the core code of our now primary product INCITE was developed for our own use. We weren’t satisfied with the quality of streaming video to store locations with limited bandwidth. As we realized the need that our clients had for a unified platform to deliver training and communications to their stores, we pivoted to focus on the technology and to continue building out the platform.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
The first-time filming for a high-end designer one of our crew set up the lights pretty close to some sequined evening gowns. Just out of curiosity I took a look at the price tag on the dress. It was $35,000. Before the words “WHOA” came out of my mouth I jumped and quickly moved the light away.
I learned that day to always be completely aware of my surroundings at all times, and no detail should be overlooked.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Early on I was an avid reader of Inc. Magazine and Norm Brodsky’s column Street Smarts. The lessons learned in that column really impacted me as I started my business. It’s was a pleasure and highlight for me many years later when I met Norm. He’s a very generous man with his knowledge and I have gotten to know him well over the years.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
MMP was launched to align globally dispersed front-line workers to be better, faster and smarter by leveraging technology.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Surround yourself with likeminded, happy people. You should be excited to go to work every day, even the challenging ones. A successful, healthy business doesn’t happen overnight, so enjoy each “win” and learn from your failures. It will make you a stronger leader and human!
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Our youngest son was diagnosed with brain cancer in October, so in the middle of this pandemic he was just starting his daily radiation treatment after having completed 6 rounds of chemo. Both of our older sons who were at college had to be moved home, one at Columbia and the other at Rutgers. I’m happy to report that our son was able to complete his radiation, our family settled into our new normal as we’re all working from home remotely.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Informing our very close-knit team that we all needed to be furloughed. Cash flow can be challenging in the best of times, the pandemic took it to epic proportions. We were able to secure PPP funding and it’s been a lifesaver. When I told the team via a group chat that we are all headed back to work, the smiles on all their faces were amazing to see.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
The one benefit from having been challenged with our youngest son having brain cancer since October is that the anxiety level really couldn’t go any higher from that point. Your perspective on everything changes where the confidence of knowing that this too will pass and you just have to take it one day at a time.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
Opportunities are being created every day as people are falling into new routines and their needs are changing. What was important to someone 6 months ago may not be today. How or whether each business can deliver on their customer’s new expectations and needs will determine their success in the post-Covid economy.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
Permanent changes will likely be determined by how quickly effective treatments or vaccines are developed. Most people would like to return to their old habits and I believe they will if significant progress happens within the next six months.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
As our focus has always been on training front line employees, there’s a significant need to re-write the playbook of what it means to be a retail employee. We’re here to help our clients re-invent what that retail experience looks like.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
Listen to your customers and potential customers, pivot and adapt to what they are now looking for. This is a time to learn what those new expectations are, even though they may require some reinvention of your own business. Flexibility is key.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Try and try again. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I can be a bit stubborn — and won’t let something go until I can claim success.
How can our readers further follow your work?
My linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/dharouche/ or our website https://multimediaplus.com