Grenoble EM and SFU students on the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programme in Vancouver attended a Q & A discussion with Chief Marketing Officer of Netflix Kelly Bennett. Bennett is an alumnus of Simon Fraser University that has made his way into the world’s fifth most innovative company, Netflix. The event was organized by Beedie School of Business and chaired by the Dean of the business school, Daniel Shapiro.
Netflix is an American provider of on-demand internet streaming media that is available in North and South America and Northern Europe. You can access all the content of Netflix for only $7.99 per month.
Company culture and advice:
Netflix has a real culture in the environment that is held by Silicon Valley. The company is all about sharing. That culture is about freedom and transparency but also responsibility. According to Kelly Bennett, people are really happy about the freedom part but often forget about the latter. Moreover, they get to hire the best people they can get, which to them are people that are willing to take risks. According to Kelly Bennett they are people that are creative and have complementary skillsets; their job is mostly focused on passion. If they are passionate about what they do, the company really allows them to be more autonomous and creative. Netflix provides its employees with what they need to be productive and also allow them to take risks. If the risk pays off, it is great for the company. If not, employees just learn from their mistake and make the best of it.
What advice did Kelly Bennett give to the audience? Well, if you are an innovative company in Silicon Valley, you basically have to learn how to fail quickly so that you can learn from your mistakes and rapidly move on. You should also try and apply one of the best things Netflix managed to accomplish; be customer-driven. By analysing data and listening to their customers, the company knows what kind of movie is desired, what kind of TV shows they should invest in. It is this knowledge of the customer that allows the company to have exponential growth.
As people from different countries have different needs regarding what they want to watch, Netflix has to choose and adapt its content to each country. So for example if Netflix were to come and develop its business in France, the company will have not only to align with the regulations of the country (for France it is the exception rule that allows French movies to survive) but also deal with the fact that French people want to watch French movies.
One of the biggest challenges Netflix faced when going from DVD to streaming was that they had to dispose of what they had, in favour of what they wanted to do next. According to Kenny Bennett, it takes a lot of courage to cannibalize your own business, even if for the example of Netflix it was proven to be very successful.
One of the biggest challenges Netflix will face is the growing competition in this field. According to Kelly Bennett, “Netflix wants to be HBO faster than HBO can be Netflix”. That is to say they have to create new and successful content. This is why the company has been investing in the creation of their own TV shows, such House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.
Kelly Bennett gave one piece of advice to the students. Try and learn from successful people you may have a chance to work with and for.
You can expect to see this successful company that is Netflix spread to even more countries within Europe in the coming year!
Written by Morgane Auffret, Juliette Deneuville and Jessica Laporte