Cameo CEO Steven Galanis on building a $1 billion start-up: ‘I’m doing this for first time

This story is part of the Behind the Desk series where CNBC Make It gets personal with successful business executives to find out everything from how they got to where they are to what makes them get out of bed in the morning to their daily routines.

As the co-founder and CEO of the popular app Cameo — which allows fans to pay celebrities to make personalized video messages for them — Steven Galanis has big plans.

“Our goal at Cameo is to become a publicly traded company most likely in the next 18 to 36 months,” Galanis tells CNBC Make It.

Business has exploded amid the Covid-19 pandemic, he says.

The app, which launched in 2017, has grown its library of celebrities (think Snoop Dogg, NFL legend Drew Brees Kevin O’Leary and Steve Harvey) to over 40,000. In 2020, the business reached a milestone of 2 million downloads, 1.3 million Cameos recorded, and pulled in $100 million in sales (75% of which went to Cameo talent), according to the company.

Baron App, Cameo’s parent company, is now valued at $1 billion after raising a $100 million in funding from new investors like SoftBank Group Corp’s Vision Fund, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk and Alphabet Inc., The Wall Street Journal recently reported.

Galanis, a former trader and LinkedIn account executive, is also managing a new staff size of about 200 employees remotely.

“This is my first time ever managing people,” Galanis says. “The business has scaled so quickly. We’ve gone from zero to 100 million in bookings in four years. And I’m doing this for the first time, so now I have C-level executives that work for me that have 25 years experience.”

Here, Galanis talks to CNBC Make It about how his talent for bringing people together led to Cameo, what he’s learning on the job and why keeping his calendar on pacific time (even though he lives on the East Coast) helps him thrive.

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