Samuel Regan-Asante is CEO of JOE Media. He spent five years at UNILAD, before co-founding Iconic Labs, a new media and technology business, which in 2020 was appointed to manage JOE Media following its acquisition by Greencastle Capital. As CEO of JOE Media Sam works with the newly appointed leadership team to lead the growth and drive the vision of JOE Media in the UK.
Who is your digital hero?
I’m going to say Phil Hutcheon, founder and CEO of Dice, the personalised live event ticketing app. I should probably caveat this with I don’t really follow people’s careers, as terrible as that may sound but I am more interested in ideas, innovations, and trends.
Specifically, how products and ultimately businesses are built from them, how people interact with these products and how consumer behaviour and expectations are shaped by products and trends, and the ongoing cycle that creates.
What has he done to win hero status in your eyes?
He’s created an amazing product that solves a genuine problem, with a really engaged user base. Dice is one of the apps I check on a weekly basis as a huge fan of the arts; because it feeds my need.
Before lockdown I would be at gigs or other kinds of events at least twice a week. Dice does what it says on the tin, it made it so much easier to discover what’s going on and to book it. What I love the most is that I feel confident using the app and knowing that if I can’t make it at the last minute I can sell my ticket at cost to another fan in the waiting list and I won’t lose any money.
It’s also anti-ticket touting and while in the past I have had to go to touts, now I can benefit from the waiting list feature of Dice. In summary, he has identified a problem, and executed a vision to create a very easy to use app that solves the problem in a very straight-forward and consumer-centric way.
How has his heroism helped drive digital?
This answer may not necessarily address how it has helped drive digital, but for me the best products, technology, apps and tools should help serve the people, fix problems and/or create positive experiences for people. That’s exactly what Dice does; it allows people to get away from screens, get away from the world and enjoy real experiences.
Furthermore it has created a digital marketplace which has allowed upcoming and local bands or acts to promote their events to a massive audience. I have been to many gigs I would have never been to, and discovered loads of acts I would have never have discovered without Dice.
It’s created an ecosystem to support the arts which is brilliant. Even during lockdown it has facilitated live streamed events for audiences to attend and escape the monotony of lockdown life, and also support an industry that has been decimated by the pandemic.
4. What are the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?
Without a doubt one of the biggest challenges that needs to be solved with digital, technology and social media is misinformation. If we look at the biggest challenges we face as a society, such as climate change or the pandemic, misinformation has been extremely damaging. Digital needs to address this, and the onus is on the big tech platforms, and rightly so, to drive that. But I wouldn’t say it is just down to them, there is more nuance in this debate than public discourse seems to recognise.
There are wider societal issues that need to be addressed, such as anti-intellectualism, that are a real problem. Governments both in the UK and the US have leaned into it when it suits them to promote their own agenda, e.g. Brexit, climate change and so on, and that needs to change.
This is why I am so excited to lead the team at JOE. It is the new media/social first publisher with the most credibility and it’s foundations are rooted in on-the-ground reporting and covering the big issues that young British people face today, and will continue to face.
It’s important that we continue to build on this and challenge misinformation that exists online and on social media. The approach the team has taken to covering the news has always been a digital and social first approach and that’s why it has cut through, and that’s something we have to build on.
What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?
This is a tricky one. I work in a very collaborative manner so I am by no means taking complete credit or saying I am solely responsible for this, but most recently I have been very proud of my involvement in creating Infotagion, which was set up in a couple of weeks during the early stages of the COVID pandemic.
Infotagion is an independent, expert fact-checking service for Coronavirus (COVID-19), sourced from WHO, UK and other official government advice. We set this up really quickly after we saw how much misinformation was being spread on Whatsapp and other platforms to do with the pandemic. It was recognised by Ofcom, and referenced as one of the fact checking sites to use.
We created a simple and easy to understand traffic light system, and it was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. In my opinion, it is a prime example on how different stakeholders can collaborate to create a digital product to solve a real world problem.