Steven Kydd, a 1991 University of Maine graduate who majored in business administration, remembers growing up in Orrington, Maine, with a passion for food and an awareness of where his food came from. His family grew their own vegetables and his uncle was a lobsterman.
In 2012, Kydd and his business partners Joe Perez and Larry Fitzgibbon took their shared love of food and converted it into Tastemade, the world’s first global food network built for digital platforms.
Tastemade’s mission is to connect the world through food by allowing creators to make and share video programming instantly on a global and social scale. Tastemade has more than 100 food channels in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and has had episodes uploaded from more than 250 cities, 25 countries and in 10 different languages.
Tastemade’s YouTube channel offers original programs featuring recipes, cooking and travel. Many Tastemakers film their shows for free in the company’s California studio that was designed to create high-quality productions and inspire collaboration. The company also offers a mobile app that allows users to produce and share their own one-minute episodes about their favorite foods and restaurants.
Before Tastemade, Kydd was part of the founding team of Demand Media and executive vice president of Demand Studios, was vice president of business development and strategy for Yahoo! and served as vice president of Internet marketing with 20th Century Fox International in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Los Angeles.
Kydd now lives in Santa Monica, Calif., with his wife and two children, where he shares his passion for food at home and at work.
Tell us about Tastemade and why it was founded:
We created Tastemade with one goal in mind — to connect the world through food. A generation ago the cable industry launched category-defining brands in food and lifestyle, and we believe the same opportunity exists for today’s global, social and mobile digital platforms. My partners and I founded the company in 2012.
Are you a good cook? What’s your favorite dish to prepare and/or eat?
I have no culinary training whatsoever, but growing up I learned some baking tips from my mum and recently learned a lot about cooking from my wife Sal. My favorite dish to eat is a simple steamed lobster which we catch from my parents’ traps off Deer Isle, Maine.
Tell us about your previous jobs and how they have influenced your professional life:
I have been working in the media business for most of my career, and I love that it is a combination of art and commerce. Early in my career I made it my mission to find mentors and learned from them what it takes to be a senior executive at a big company.
I was fortunate to work at great media brands like 20th Century Fox and Yahoo!. However, along the way I learned that I was at my best when starting something new, and that led me toward leaving the corporate world and into startups.
What are you professional and personal goals?
For me, personal and professional goals must be linked. When you start your own company it becomes part of your family life. Fortunately, my family gets to be involved in the development of the company, and that is rewarding for everyone.
What are your biggest professional accomplishments to date:
I had always dreamed about ringing the bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to celebrate the IPO of a company I helped build. I was fortunate to be part of the founding team of Demand Media, and in January 2011, my dream came true.
Another highlight was being asked to speak at Google Zeitgeist this year to tell the story of how my partners and I formed Tastemade.
Both of these events were shared with my partners Joe Perez and Larry Fitzgibbon, who were co-founders of both companies with me.
What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
For a couple years I served as the head of the UMaine tour guides — showing prospective students and their parents around campus. Looking back on this, it was a great way to build my storytelling skills. Any entrepreneur will tell you that storytelling is critical to starting and growing a new business.
Most memorable UMaine moment:
The day I was accepted to the study abroad program in France for my junior year.
Any advice for current students?
First, study abroad — it is one of the best things you can do to grow personally and professionally. Second, start a business — any business. You will learn more from being an entrepreneur than you will from any textbook. Lastly, find great partners — everything in life is better when you can share it with people you care about.