078: Boston Speaks Up with Entrepreneur Frank Sinton
Updated: Jun 19
Frank Sinton is an entrepreneur, investor and innovator from Concord, Massachusetts. A Tufts University graduate, Sinton is a life-long learner and engineer by trade with several patents under his belt. He has a growing interest in adapting his deep technology background and CEO experience to actively nurture the next generation of companies working to solve important challenges facing the world today.
Sinton made a name for himself in the entertainment industry helping legacy businesses through digital transformation. He spent the early 2000s in Los Angeles leading innovation and technology at Sony Pictures as the studio’s strategy shifted to digital.
In 2007, Sinton founded Beachfront Media, a premium video ad tech company that he built into the leading convergent TV advertising platform delivering more than 1 billion video ad impressions per month. In late 2017, he sold a majority stake to Penny Pritzker’s PSP Capital and he now sits in a board of directors role.
For the past several years, Sinton has been investing in startups through several angel groups including TBD Angels in Boston. He also serves as a Board Member to several companies. Additionally, he sits on the board of AdLedger, a nonprofit consortium working to build rules and standards for the application of blockchain and cryptography to media and advertising.
Among his many roles, Sinton also currently serves in an advisor role as Head of Innovation at Value Creation Labs where he’s helping scale next generation technology companies.
Sinton’s interests include Web3 (NFT and Crypto), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Climate Tech, just to name a few. We get into all of that on the podcast. You can listen to our discussion embedded below or on any podcast platform you prefer (SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Google Play):
Where did you grow up? And how would you describe your childhood?
I grew up in Concord, Massachusetts. I was exposed to the “startup culture” at an early age. My childhood was surrounded by people who were willing to take risks on a startup and valued grit and determination in making it happen. Obviously, this had a lasting impression.
Who were your role models growing up?
My father was an entrepreneur and a great role model for learning about the process of creating a company from scratch. His first company was funded by Apple and Steve Jobs. They invented the first Visual IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for engineers for the first Macintosh computers (Lightspeed C by THINK was the name). I’ve continued to learn from him to this day.
What was your first job? What did it teach you?
When I was in High School, my summer jobs were as a Caddy during the day (Kittansett golf course in Marion, MA) and a dishwasher at a seafood restaurant (Mattapoisett Chowder House). I quickly learned the value of a hard day’s work, and that I never, ever wanted to work in the back of a restaurant again! I would come home from work and my mom wouldn’t let me in the house until after I took a shower in our outdoor shower.
What is the first career you remember wanting to pursue?
Professional baseball player. I quickly realized that this would not happen after a few arm injuries and turned my attention to a career in engineering. I knew from the start of my career that I would be an entrepreneur and it was only a matter of time before I would make this happen. My first job out of college was as a software engineer. In retrospect, it gave me a very solid foundation and understanding of software that continues to be useful in every company that I invest time into.
What’s your advice to young people aspiring to take the leap and start their own business?
This cliche rings true: Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. We’ve been in a long upward cycle until recently, so cash has been flowing fairly easily until the last few months. Starting your own business will be a roller coaster ride, just be prepared for both the highs and lows and try to stay as even-keeled as possible. To make this more tangible: be prepared to take zero salary for up to 2 years - you may need to because raising money and generating revenue will take longer than you think.
Is there anything you’ve seen from experience working with entrepreneurs that distinguishes the good and great ones?
Ability to stick-to-it. You need to be stubborn but also flexible. Starting a business is a process more than anything and entrepreneurs who understand that, and realize this is a marathon and not a sprint, tend to be the ones that succeed.
Is there a particular person or event that helped shape the career path you took?
Outside of my father as we discussed, Steve Jobs was a big outside influence. He showed that technology is more than just features and functionality of a piece of hardware or software - it has the ability to change people’s lives for the better. Even though this saying is fairly cliche nowadays, he was one of the first ones to say it and it could be seen throughout all of Apple’s marketing campaigns. This had a profound impact on me pursuing a career in technology.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome getting to where you are today?
Starting a company during a downturn in the market (2007-2008). Our early days at Beachfront Media were tough, but this also caused us to make key decisions - such as pursuing an ad tech platform over other video-based solutions - that formed our direction and, ultimately, our success.
How would you describe your leadership style? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your experiences leading others thus far?
Lead by example. It is easy to talk about doing something, but completely different when you do it. A leader needs to be able to influence and convince all parts of the company on the direction and plan of execution: the Board Room, the engineers, the sales people, and everyone else. If a leader is not willing to do something, why would someone else want to do it? The best leaders can be both strategic and tactical.
Lead-by-example can also scale. It doesn’t mean you need to be coding every day, for example, but that you are willing to do whatever your people need to help the company succeed.
What’s the most exciting part about working with startups?
Working with the founders and founding team at the early stages (Pre-Seed, Seed, Series A). It is all about impact ahd helping those teams succeed. This is also when my experience building startups is most valuable. Founders do seem to appreciate help from other founders too.
What do you find most exciting about the web3 (NFT/crypto) sector right now?
I spent the last 15 years founding & building Beachfront Media building on the momentum of Web 2 and video streaming.
Web 3 has the opportunity and ability to be the next big wave of change in our lives. This type of change usually only comes once in a career, and I am lucky that this is the third time that it has happened in my career (Web 1.0/dot com; Web 2/social and video; Web3/decentralization and metaverse).
What are some of the most recent trends you’ve been seeing? What do you believe will succeed in longevity?
Trend 1: AI is beginning to touch every part of our daily lives.
Trend 2: Decentralization of everything - from finance to video streaking to funding - this will have a big impact in the coming 15 years. Similar to how globalization impacted business over the past 30 years.
Trend 3: Innovation in Metaverses and crypto will define the future of how we interact and transact. My hope is this will become a lot more real than Web2 where social has become not just a place to connect but also a place to bully and cause harm.
FINAL QUESTION: We like the idea of ending our episodes with a challenge for the listeners/readers. Whether it be reaching out to an old friend, reading 5 pages a day from a book, creating a new healthy habit… what is one challenge you have for the listeners?
Go join a metaverse like Decentraland and try it out for an hour. You can see where the user experience is now and where it needs to be for yourself.