Leslie Bradshaw Leaves JESS3, Starts Afresh as COO of Guide

January 16, 2013

3:30 pm

Leslie Bradshaw, the cofounder and former COO of creative agency JESS3, announced today that she is now COO of video startup Guide.

Bradshaw started JESS3 in 2006 and has helped it grow to over $13 million in total revenue. They have done work for clients including Google, Facebook, and ESPN. In 2012, JESS3 made the Inc. 500 list – growing over 800 percent from 2008-2011 – and won a “Small Agency of the Year” gold medal from AdAge in the Southeast. To Bradshaw, all this means that JESS3 can stand on its own legs.

“In the last year, I really felt like, ‘Hey, this is actually something that could keep going without me,’” says Bradshaw.

When Guide CEO Freddie Laker told her about his idea, she wasn’t actively looking for a new job opportunity. But the next morning, she told him she wanted to join the team. With her early work in news and contacts in the blogosphere, Bradshaw is excited about helping publishers turn their content into video, which can then be played on smart TVs. It’s an opportunity many don’t even consider because of the cost, expense, and complexity.

Bradshaw officially left JESS3 in December and moved herself from Los Angeles to Miami to help Guide prepare for its February launch. Part of her motivation is a lifestyle change: with JESS3, she was dealing with tons of clients and found herself working nights and weekends and skimping on sleep. Now, as part of a team of serial entrepreneurs in their 30s, she hopes to live a more balanced lifestyle.

To her new job, Bradshaw will bring many of the skills she cultivated in six years at JESS3: her design sense, familiarity with the media, and a tolerance for the ups and downs of building a business. But it still isn’t easy to say goodbye to her old life.

“It was hard in the same way that it would probably be hard to send your child off to college – that’s the only thing I can liken it to,” says Bradshaw. “As a parent, or as a founder of a company, I’ve done everything in my power to make JESS3 successful and healthy and know right from wrong and teach it all the lessons and set it up to be successful. But at some point – just like a parent sending someone off to college – you have to trust that they’re going to be able to keep going. And that was really the emotion that I felt. There was a sadness, there was tears, there were hugs, but it also had a sense of graduation to it. You’re going to graduate on, and you’re going to be a company that will continue and be successful and I’ll be cheering you on as a good parent from the sidelines. And at the same time, it’s also time for me to graduate.”

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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