This summer has been life-changing for 22-year-old Toronto entrepreneur Adam Silverman, whose business, Hot Dot Media, was recently acquired by Wondr Gaming for $2 million.
The acquisition was a natural evolution for Silverman, who was appointed head of media and will work towards connecting Fortune 1000 brands with TikTok creators.
Silverman was a business student in his final year at the University of Western Ontario in 2019, when along with two Toronto investment bankers, he founded Hot Dot Media.
“About three years ago I noticed my sister was spending about an hour a day on this platform called Musical.ly, and right off the bat I saw there was something there,” he said.
“If one hour of her attention was going towards this app every day it got me curious as to why it was keeping people hooked… and how they were keeping them engaged. Musical.ly transitioned to an app called TikTok and overnight influencers jumped from 10,000 followers to 100,000 followers just based on one or two videos that went viral.”
With Hot Dot Media, Silverman created a marketplace that pairs brands with creators.
“Unlike traditional marketing firms or agencies, we don’t look at ourselves like an agency at all,” he said. “We partner with creators and we have direct relationships with them, and then we partner with brands who are looking to have content produced and are looking to facilitate a marketing campaign—our goal is to be the healthy intermediary between them.”
Silverman credits his success in developing Hot Dot Media to an Israeli program, Birthright Excel, that he participated in during the summer of 2020.
While the program usually brings young adults to Israel for 10 weeks to connect with executives across many sectors for hands-on workshops and leadership training, COVID meant that last year it was virtual. Silverman said he spent four to five hours a day on Zoom, building relationships virtually.
“We were segmented off to work on our own business ideas throughout the summer to hammer down one very specific idea—come up with a viable product to see if will be a successful business in a real market place.”
His business was focusing on reverse logistics, in his case that meant what happens with items when they are returned to the seller.
“Large companies like Amazon have infrastructure in place to support returns at scale. We were interested in helping small businesses and creators set up return logistics for their stores,” he explained.
Without Birthright, he never would have been exposed to that critical part of online business, he said.
Silverman is the son of entrepreneurial parents who provided him with opportunities to learn and hustle. As a result, he quickly figured out how to take a product and market it to the right crowd of people.
“In elementary school, my friend and I were importing and selling a spinning toy called Topnosis, from FAO Schwartz in New York City,” he said. “We found the perfect market fit on the playground. These kids had some level of disposable income that otherwise would have been going to candy, so we figured out a niche in the market where we brought them toys that you couldn’t get in Canada.”
In high school, Silverman created a business called Silver Sells where he would go into homes that his mother, a realtor, was selling. “I basically liquidated every item in the house,” said Silverman.
But not every idea was a success. Silverman’s drive led him to buy a smartphone waterproofing service using a machine he purchased from China.
“This didn’t turn out to be the most successful entrepreneurial venture,” he said but it gave him valuable perspective.
“I can get up early every morning and sell, give my all, and stay committed—even when something is failing,” said Silverman.
Silverman intends to continue working for Wondr Gaming and but has a growing interest in ways to lower carbon emissions.
“I’m very interested in media and the marketing side now,” he said. “But later in life I will try to focus on clean tech advancing to a point where we don’t need to worry about global warming.”