Opera singer turned CEO sounds unique note for Seattle company

peterhamilton.jpg
Peter Hamilton, CEO of Seattle-based HasOffers, was a successful opera singer before changing his tune to focus on business. (Peter Hamilton/Twitter image) | Zoom
When it comes to getting attention for his Seattle-based technology company, Peter Hamilton knows how to get heard above the noise. After all, he's likely one of the only business leaders who used to make his living singing opera.

Hamilton, the CEO of HasOffers, brings a unique perspective to business as a professional musician and longtime entrepreneur. He shared some of his insights during a visit on Jenni Hogan's Next Big Thing podcast.

Hamilton grew up playing music, gravitating to singing after playing a myriad of instruments over the year. He ultimately ignored his father's advice to pursue something else professionally, and majored in music at the University of Texas in Austin.

While in school, he lived in a dorm with a bunch of engineers and got hooked on technology, thanks in large part to his first high-speed Internet connection.

"All of a sudden the world just exploded," he said.

First came recording music with his friends. Then, they began exploring how to share it with others.

"Some of my friends they need websites, they need presence, they need something happening online, so that just started to get my wheels turning."

And when money got a little tight for the aspiring musician, he realized he could make a few bucks building websites and doing online marketing for other people as well.

But the music remained his muse. Hamilton graduated and began getting opera gigs all over the world, singing and studying in some of the most hallowed halls.

"It was exciting and I loved the craft and I loved the art of it, but the business of it, of having to force it into this round hole so that it could pay my rent was the thing that became really difficult for me," he said.

So Hamilton turned back to technology, founding and leading a number of companies and ultimately landing in Seattle. Eventually, he would meet up with brothers Lucas and Lee Brown, the founders of HasOffers.

The company, which specializes in providing technology for advertisers to measure the success of their campaigns, has been growing like gangbusters. With Hamilton at the helm, HasOffers recently secured $9.4 million in venture capital.

According to Hamilton, putting the deal together and running the company has plenty of parallels to his musical career, with an orchestra much like an organization.

"I can catch on to the technical things that are important for me to understand and to realize in order for us to all be moving in the right direction, I'm depending on people that know what they're doing," he said.

There have been a few sour notes along the way, but Hamilton credited the support of his partners and team with his continued success.

"The most important part is to have support internally, and for those people to also realize you're learning and give you great feedback."

It's a lesson that can be applied to marketing as much as music. And much like a great conductor, Hamilton is hoping to lead his ever growing team of nearly 90 employees to the applause of his industry and investors.

"When you're a very small group of people, the best way to lead is by example," he advised. "You add people to that team and they see how passionate people are and they get on board and they grow."

Now though, with his team spread all over the world, his role is changing.

"It is our job to inspire people to do. We can't just let them watch us do and hope they'll be inspired."

And when all else fails, Hamilton can dig deep and inspire with a little La Boheme.

You can hear a sample of Hamilton's singing at the conclusion of his conversation with Jenni.

Listen to Peter Hamilton full interview on the latest episode of Jenni Hogan's Next Big Thing podcast. Listen anytime ON DEMAND at KIRORadio.com.


Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com Reporter
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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