Jonathan Gill Says Great Companies Don't Need Fixed Offices—Only Great People

Adrianna Freedman
·3 mins read
Photo credit: Jonathan Gill
Photo credit: Jonathan Gill

From Men's Health

Over the last few years, Jonathan Gill’s road to success has taken him a number of directions. And as the founder and CEO of Backtracks, an audio analysis company focused on helping podcasters measure data, he's also used to overcoming different problems on the fly.

Gill recently sat down with Men’s Health Deputy Editor Spencer Dukoff for the latest installment of Boss Mode, an Instagram Live show which features innovative entrepreneurs and their journeys to creating successful companies.

Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Gill grew up with a love of punk music and later started his own record company. But when music distribution went the way of physical CDs to digital downloads, he discovered a niche market in audio analysis.

“Instead of printing a record or a CD, you could make different versions of the audio for different markets around the world… Fast forward a few years and then do the same thing, but for podcasters.”

While on the road for various business trips, record labels would call him, asking him to run analysis for singles being released onto digital platforms like SoundCloud, leaving him both puzzled (“You guys are on major record labels with entire staffs… shouldn’t you have the tools to do this?”) and inspired to create Backtracks. Today, the company helps connect advertisers with podcasters and provides data analytics. “Podcasters needed help—no one was willing to help them."

But like any new business owner, he found himself having to navigate initial obstacles, like not being a venture-funded company. He got around that problem by taking creative measures—starting with having no official company base. All work would be done remotely (how apropos for today's work setting).

"We were always set up to work no matter what someone's timezone is," he said. "[Work] shouldn't have to depend on always having the other person or group of people available at that moment."

By creating this type of company set-up, ironically, it also taught Gill how to sharpen his interpersonal skills. He learned how people approached their work differently, meaning he needed to learn communication techniques to help foster a collaborative working environment. He also had to understand how having multiple approaches is sometimes the key to his success.

"I needed to understand the different personalities, different working styles of different people, to enable them to do the best work that they can," he said. "Sometimes it's not only the best work, but what do you actually want to do in your life that has nothing to do with your work. Sometimes they're related, sometimes they're not, but one can benefit the other."

If there's anything Gill learned from his years of being an entrepreneur, it's not being afraid to take risks. He says it's all about taking a shot and believing in yourself, especially during unprecedented times.

"I think if you want to do it, and especially in this timeframe—you've got this one life, give it a shot," he said. "Everyone's got a bit of an entrepreneur inside of them. If that's what you want, this is a perfect time to evaluate those opportunities and take the steps that you might need to start your own journey."

Watch the entire conversation here:

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