We’re so proud of our CEO—and recently, the world got to see why when he was honored as an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2020 Southeast Finalist! In recognition of this big honor, we decided to sit down with Matthew and get a few of his thoughts on DVI, entrepreneurship, and what it means to persevere. We hope you’ll be as inspired as we were by some of his insights. Read more below!
Describe the moment you knew forging your own path as an entrepreneur was the right choice.
Matthew: I’m not sure when I realized that doing my own thing was the right choice. I’ve always been a risk-taker and a very hard worker, and I just knew I was much more satisfied when I was able to put together a team to build something from the ground up. It always felt natural to me. I’ve always loved the adrenaline, the fear, and the success.
You’ve been a CEO for over 20 years. What are the key attributes you rely on when pursuing success?
Matthew: One of my favorite movie quotes is from the movie Galaxy Quest: “Never give up, never surrender.” That kind of sums it up for me. It’s all about commitment and perseverance. It’s not easy. It’s hard work. There are good days, and there are difficult days. You have to deal with all of it with grit and grace.
“Never give up, never surrender.”
There are good days, and there are difficult days. You have to deal with all of it with grit and grace.
~ Matthew Lopes, CEO
What do you love about the creative process?
Matthew: For me, it’s about seeing something be born from nothing. To see the shared vision of a team of people turning out content that is powerful and transformative . . . that’s what I love.
We heard that when you started DVI, you did a lot of video editing and creative direction yourself. Is that true? Do you miss being so hands-on in the creative process?
Matthew: I do miss being hands-on in the creative process. For many years, I was involved in every phase of production, and I enjoyed it so much. I love the process; it never gets old! But operational demands have grown with the company, and that’s where I’ve chosen to focus my energy.
I still love seeing projects move through the process. Pre-COVID, you would find me popping into a creative meeting or interacting with the 2D and 3D animation teams to see progress on different projects. Now, I ask the team to send me samples of what they’re working on. It helps me stay connected to the creative side of the business.
Speaking of growing, DVI has been doing a lot of it. We made the Financial Times’s list of the 500 fastest-growing companies in the Americas! If the FT came back next year to do a feature on you and The DVI Group, what successes do you hope they would focus on?
Matthew: If the FT came back next year to do a feature on The DVI Group, it would mean we’re still in business. The success I would hope they would focus on would be DVI surviving the largest economic collapse in America’s history.
Well, the awards don’t stop there. Recently, we also made the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing privately held companies in America—for the second year running. Are awards like that an important marker of a company’s success?
Matthew: I’d say so. We produce at a very high level, and as a company, we win lots of creative awards—which are perfect for demonstrating our commitment to high-quality, award-winning content to potential clients. The business awards like the Inc. 5000 and FT 500 illustrate how successful we are as a company, and that goes a long way from a business development standpoint. The hope is that this kind of industry and business recognition helps us open doors and form new partnerships.
What three things must be in place for a company like The DVI Group to grow successfully?
Matthew: Strong Talent. You need a talented team of visionaries and artists.
Strong Culture. You have to create an environment where everyone—and I mean everyone, no matter their gender, race, creed, sexual preference, etc.—are free to contribute to the creative process based on their unique life experiences. That’s when the best creative ideas take root.
Strong Leaders. Whether you’re the CEO, the Creative Director, or the head of sales, you’re responsible for the lives of your team. You’re the rudder through the calm and the storm. Good leaders, like servant leaders and empathetic leaders, can make or break a company.
I think we’re going to need persistence and patience. We are living through unprecedented times, and the recovery isn’t going to happen overnight.
- Matthew Lopes, CEO
If you had to design the ideal MBA business course to train future CEOs, what would you call it?
Matthew: “Never Give Up, Never Surrender: The Ups and Downs of Growing A Business.”
What do entrepreneurs need to survive a pandemic?
Matthew: I’ve thought about this question myself over the past few months. What do I need to survive right now? It’s easy to think “cash reserves” or “new business.” Those are great answers and undoubtedly true.
More importantly, I think we’re going to need persistence and patience. We are living through unprecedented times, and the recovery isn’t going to happen overnight. We need to be prepared to maintain the course—no matter how difficult or how long. It’s easier said than done. But it’s just what we have to do. There are far too many people counting on us for us to fail.