Fresh Faces 2021: Sam Kolbert-Hyle

Kolbert-Hyle is the CEO of Brandlive, which powered all virtual events for the Biden presidential campaign in 2020.

BizBash Fresh Faces, Sam Kolbert-Hyle
Photo: Courtesy of Sam Kolbert-Hyle

Sam Kolbert-Hyle is the president & CEO of Brandlive, a Portland-based company that creates Netflix-like video experiences using its new Greenroom technology. In addition to working with clients like Nike, GoPro and Adidas, the company powered all the virtual events for the Biden presidential campaign in 2020, and was ranked No. 1 in Live Events on Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies list in 2021. 

How he got his start: Kolbert-Hyle took over the reins of Brandlive in Jan. 2020. "I have the honor of leading Brandlive as we reinvent how companies communicate in a changing world. Brandlive’s mission is to help companies elevate their marquee meetings and events. Not just all events but the special ones, the important ones, the ones worth investing in and preparing for, and that are worth watching and rewatching over and over again (especially because no one wants to rewatch a Zoom meeting)."

Biggest lesson from the last year: "It has been a crazy year, and we didn't expect the success that we’ve had. I couldn't be more proud of and grateful for the team and the crazy, unique culture we are building. When we bought the business and I took over as CEO, we had 14 employees and now we are over 200. I attribute much of that growth to our ability to grit it out in the face of adversity and pivot quickly, without resistance, when our large customers started asking for ways to elevate Zoom-like meetings and create TV-quality experiences. Our relentless focus on our customers has been, in many ways, the antithesis of the original plan and a valuable and humbling lesson—shift, evolve and just keep going."

Career goals: "I take things one day at a time—but my goal is to find satisfaction in what I’m doing and to build companies that make a mark on this world. There is no doubt that my passions are around things that are visual—art and music and video—and so I hope to continue to build things that move people and make them feel something when they experience it. We talk about this a lot at Brandlive, but being happy at home is directly correlated to being happy at work, and finding things you love and are passionate about really is so important."

In his free time: "For five years, I served on the board of the Dougy Center, a wonderful organization in Portland that believes no child should grieve alone after the death of a sibling or parent. My wife, Sarah, and I are also involved in the Portland Arts scene and have been involved in both PNCA and Cascade AIDS Project. Giving back is such an important part of having a vibrant and colorful community."

Advice for his peers: "Calm is contagious. Things will go wrong. We all know that. 'Calm is contagious' is one of those fill-in-the-blank sayings—meaning while calm is contagious, so is fear and so is panic. As Warren Buffett once said, 'It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.' You are being counted on to over-prepare, stay calm and deliver during the most critical moments. It’s this calm intensity that reassures everyone and makes the biggest difference."

Follow Brandlive on Instagram at @brandlive.

Page 1 of 46
Next Page