Episode 97 – Featuring Netflix Co-Founder Mitch Lowe

Gamechanger:   How Netflix Co-Founder Mitch Lowe’s Idea That Just Wouldn’t Die Changed the Way We Watch Television and Movies

What does the name “Video Droid” mean to you?

If you’re like, well, pretty much everybody outside of the State of California, the answer is going to probably be, “not much.”.   And those California residents will probably chalk the fledgling retail video rental chain to the relic bin of businesses of days gone by.

But for the man who ran Video Droid, both as its CEO, and for over 13,000 hours, as the person who physically manned many of its locations, the name means so much more.

Video Droid was initially envisioned to be something different, namely, a series of video rental machines.  But with video rental stores seemingly on every corner at the time, there was no real need in the marketplace for something different.   So Mitch Lowe, sensing that he couldn’t beat the competition, joined the competition.

Until, that is, the market was ready for a change.   Then, it was time to try to beat the competition again.   This time, he did.

While “on the ground” in the Video Droid stores, Mitch Lowe talked with to his customers, listened to their needs, and saw where the video rental industry was headed.

The road for the future of the video rental industry took shape for Mitch at a trade show in 1997.   There, Mitch chatted up a gentleman by the name of Mark Randolph, who had been the cofounder of MicroWarehouse, a computer mail order company.    What if, they hypothesized, the idea of mail order was applied to movie rental?

The idea seemed to have merit.  And Randolph had tapped into a former boss of his, Reed Hastings, to provide initial seed capital.

The company, which had been dubbed Netflix, was born.   And the way we view entertainment would change forever.

Neflix had changed the game, offering a variety of options for customers in need of the latest titles,  What started as a 30-employee company specializing in just over 900 DVD’s for rent by mail online has sprawled to over two billion DVD’s being distributed to over 50 million customers, and counting, worldwide. And as even THIS model has become out of fashion, Netflix has stayed ahead of the curve by offering digital streaming options for its customer base to view their favorites online.  Among these options for online viewing are a number of original shows and movies produced exclusively for Neflix customers, including award-winning, critically acclaimed programming such as “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.”

And none of that would have been possible without the mind behind “Video Droid”, Mitch Lowe.

Since leaving Netflix in 2003, Mitch Lowe actually, in a way, returned to his Video Droid roots, as CEO of Redbox, a McDonald’s-owned video rental kiosk system that can commonly be found in tens of thousands of locations throughout the country.  After moving on from Redbox in 2011, Mitch Lowe has continued to keep the entrepreneurial fires burning through his involvement other companies, like Quarterly.com and Medbox.

On this edition of “The Raja Show”, Mitch Lowe joins Raja to discuss his remarkable entrepreneurial career, and the importance of having a vision for success, and sticking with the vision with laser focus until a company becomes successful.

Suffice to say, this show will be well worth tearing yourself away from binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix (a practice that Mitch does NOT endorse, by the way) to give us a listen.