Executive Perspectives: Andrew Witkin, founder and CEO of StickerYou
As part of Print+Promo’s ongoing feature, Executive Perspectives, we get to know leading professionals in the print and promotional industry. This month, we interviewed Andrew Witkin, founder and CEO of StickerYou, Toronto. Here, he explains his goal-setting process, talks coronavirus concerns and shares his passion for sticker culture.
How did you get started in this industry, and what path did you take to land in your current role?
Andrew Witkin: I wasn’t originally in the printing industry. I started off in marketing, working as vice president of North American Licensing for Nelvana/Corus Entertainment and as the director of marketing for Mega Brands/Mattel. I knew I wanted to start my own business, but I wasn’t sure what that business should be. I was on a business trip in Los Angeles and was struck by the city’s street art culture. Part of that culture is sticker art. When I returned to Toronto, I looked into custom stickers and found that the prices were prohibitively expensive to create your own. I knew there was an opportunity to offer customers the ability to customize their own die-cut stickers at a reasonable price. The key was figuring out if we could build the technology, which we did. That’s how StickerYou was born, and that’s how I got into the print industry.
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
AW: I’m a big believer in studying the art and science of a business before setting goals. I try and understand the behavioral side (the art) mixed with the data/numbers side using science. Once I can synthesize the two, I try and come up with goals for the business and myself. However, sometimes the goals are more related to personal performance, so that is mostly about being a believer in pushing myself to be the best leader I can be.
How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
AW: That’s an excellent question, especially given the uncertain times we are all living in right now. Of course, the economy is a major factor in the overall state of the industry and will be even more so in the coming months. Though it’s impossible to predict what the long-term effects will be, what I am optimistic about is the industry’s ability to adapt to quickly changing circumstances. Innovation and pivoting will both play an important role for many businesses in the industry as they adapt and go on to thrive in the new economic reality.
What do you expect to be some of the biggest changes or challenges the industry will face?
AW: The obvious one is the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. We are only starting to see how people’s purchasing habits are changing. The question is, are these changes short- or long-term? Either way, the companies that are able to observe and quickly adapt to these changes [are the ones] that will be able to survive and flourish. Creativity and pragmatism are two powerful strategies.
What keeps you up at night?
AW: I try [to] unplug when I go to sleep and usually that works. However, right now I am following the stats on the spread of the coronavirus. Not containing this for many months will keep me up. There are a lot of lives at stake here.
What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
AW: StickerYou is always adapting and innovating. We were the first in the world to offer the ability to customize stickers using online design and automation production technology when we first launched in 2010. We are also the first to offer custom temporary tattoos. The most cutting-edge thing we are doing at the moment is introducing the creative possibilities of our product to our customers in real life, by opening our first-ever retail location last fall. Our retail location is a mix of inspiration and application sampling so potential customers can feel confident in the products they order from StickerYou. We sell a range of ready-made stickers that are already proving popular with shoppers and that also highlight ways our products can be customized for a range of business and personal use cases. We also opened a History of Stickers Museum and art exhibition in the space to inform, entertain and inspire our customers to make what matters to them stick.
What would people be surprised to learn about you—hobbies, special interests, etc.?
AW: I think they’d be surprised to know that if I’m ever left alone for a few days—if my wife and kids are out of town, for example—there’s a chance that I might go to a dance club and tear up the floor solo for a night. Being Canadian, I also play goalie for a recreational hockey team. Having to stop a 50-mile-an-hour slap shot is a terrific way to force me to unplug from work.