Axial's Growth 100 : Dan Goikhman

Dan Goikhman

CEO, Unreel

Creative Concepts

Dan Goikhman, co-founder and CEO of Unreel, refused to let a few false starts stop him from pursuing his dream of becoming an entrepreneur. “You’ve got to be an optimist,” he says.

Dan started out in the corporate world “for about 15 minutes,” before realizing it wasn’t for him. He tried to start a company with a friend. It didn’t go anywhere, “but that didn’t discourage us,” says Dan.

After another stint in the corporate world, Dan met his business partner Krish Arvapally on an online entrepreneurs’ forum. They started a mobile advertising network at the end of 2007. Mobile was still relatively young at the time, and they poured their heart and soul into the company, which went on to be acquired by PubMatic as Mocean Mobile (it was previously called Mojiva).

The only question left was what to do next. Going back to corporate life wasn’t an option — after so many years as an entrepreneur, “I’m pretty much unemployable,” jokes Dan.

Concept Roulette

After devoting nearly eight years to Mocean, Dan and Krish knew they wanted something they could invest in long-term. They piloted two concepts. Dandelion, a “ simple advertising platform for small businesses and marketplaces,” was soon sold to Metric Collective.

The other concept was Unreel, a discovery focused platform delivering trending video moments. “We started out with kind of a general thesis that video was going to have a crazy discovery problem. There was way too much being created.”

Unreel aims to use all the “rich social data” available on the web — everything from comments on YouTube to tweets to a conversation on Reddit — to build an “index of hotspots in video and ultimately make these videos deeply searchable, shareable, and snackable,” says Dan.

Dan and Krish also recognized that there were a lot of people “looking for better options to monetize their audiences at a higher rate.” Now, they also work with content creators — ranging from individual YouTubers to studios — to provide a tool to better understand the most engaging aspects of their own content and engage directly with their audience.

“Throughout the creative ecosystem,” Dan says, “creators want to better communicate, better engage, and better monetize their audience.”

Dan credits the company’s success so far in large part to a strong technical team (many of whom Dan and Krish worked with before at previous ventures) and a unified vision. “Everyone wears every hat in the early days — that’s absolutely true,” he says.

As the world of video evolves, “our goal is to stay in front of it and bring in great people that hopefully know more than we do.”