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Lessons from the Cameo Growth Story

Event Recaps


2 min read · Feb 5

About The Author

Lakshmi Shenoy


We were lucky to welcome Cameo CEO Steven Galanis to Embarc Collective this week. The Cameo growth story is incredible – they started just 4 years ago and today have grown to 200 employees, $100M in customer transactions and $25M in revenue in 2020. The team has raised over $65M in funding by investors including Kleiner Perkins and Lightspeed and was last valued at over $300M.

Steven started the Cameo journey at 1871, the startup hub in Chicago and partner of Embarc Collective, so he was well equipped to advise Embarc Collective members on how to best leverage a community like ours to grow their company.

We are sharing our 5 favorite insights from the conversation with Steven:

Fight for Simplicity:

Narrow your focus and execute on one key thing exceptionally well – allowing you to do that one thing at a world class level.

Turn Your Team Into Evangelists:

As a 2-sided marketplace, Cameo first made a point to focus on bringing celebrity talent onto their platform and keeping them satisfied (rather than trying to focus on both celebrity talent and customers at the same time). A great roster of celebrity talent will help attract the customers. Cameo took this customer-centric approach when engaging with the talent on their platform by rolling out the red carpet at every moment possible. The result? Celebrity talent became Cameo evangelists and promoted the platform with their fans, growing Cameo’s reach.

Be Accountable From the Start:

Steven recommended that all startups write monthly updates, even if you don’t have outside investors. This will ensure that you are tracking your forward movement and growth each month.

Narrow Your CEO Role:

When you are starting out, the CEO can feel like the Chief Everything Officer, but as you scale your team, try to narrow your focus to these areas:

    1. Finding and achieving product market fit
    2. Building a unified mission, vision and culture
    3. Hiring great people (ones who are smarter than you)
    4. Keeping the lights on (generating revenue and raising capital)

The Case for Florida:

Cameo has recently become a completely remote organization, and Steven has migrated from Chicago to Miami. The livability, lifestyle and the growing energy around the tech startup community statewide were two reasons he made the move.


About our Programming Supporter: This CEO Fireside Chat was made possible through support from the Florida Business Development Corporation. Since 1989, the Florida Business Development Corporation (FBDC) has been dedicated to the success of Florida small businesses. As the most active lender in the east coast of the U.S., we excel at assisting healthy, growing companies secure long-term, below-market, fixed-rate financing for the acquisition and development of fixed assets. The program can also be utilized to refinance debt associated with fixed assets.

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