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40 Under 40 - Class of 2020
Business Observer Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020 1 year ago

Kevin Hillman, 34

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Restflix, CEO
by: Grier Ferguson Sarasota-Manatee Editor

Kevin Hillman’s company Restflix launched in July, and it’s already gaining traction with more and more sleep-challenged people.

Hillman is CEO of Lakewood Ranch-based streaming service Restflix, which offers relaxing, sleep-inducing video content through an app and on Google Play, Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV. Users watch calming visuals of subjects such as the ocean or rain set to music, and little ones use the service for bedtime stories to help them drift off to sleep.

Since launching the service, the three-person Restflix team has been hard at work growing the user base. “I set expectations and let the team actually do their job,” says Hillman. “That kind of leadership style worked for me significantly. It really empowers people to take ownership of what they’re doing. It lets them become their own boss and take pride in their work.”

Courtesy. Kevin Hillman, CEO of Lakewood Ranch-based streaming service Restflix, with his interns. Restflix offers relaxing, sleep-inducing video content through an app and on Google Play, Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV.

In a startup, CEOs often wear many hats, and it’s no different for Hillman. To get everything done, he starts his days early, around 6 a.m. He uses those morning hours — when he’s not getting bombarded with messages and phone calls — to brainstorm creative ideas for marketing, partnerships and content. “What I really like the most is being creative and also providing a service and value to people they actually love and actually use,” he says. “Combining those is any creative person’s dream.”

Hillman grew up in Ohio with his mom and siblings, living in poverty. He says his upbringing and the obstacles he had to overcome help motivate him. “If I can survive this and make it out of this, the sky is the limit — I had that mindset since I was 15,” says Hillman. “I think I have an unfair advantage, to be honest with you. You don’t really worry about failure if you’re used to not having things. Failure doesn’t really scare you because you’ve been there before. Therefore, you just move past that pressure. I just kind of give everything my all.”

In the business world, Hillman has learned from a mentor and through experiences at a few Sarasota-based companies: internet marketing firm Clickbooth (now Perform[cb]), internet marketing company Revcontent and video syndication and monetization platform Powr. He also launched a digital advertising company called Onzic.io, the success of which allowed him to fund Restflix.

Hillman has ambitious goals for Restflix that he plans to accomplish through strategic marketing initiatives. The No. 1 goal on the list? Turn Restflix into a household name. “I think it goes back to determination and being relentless,” says Hillman. “I always see things positively. If someone says we can’t do this, I go to the next person. It’s determination to get things done. You only have a few chances to create something that’s bigger than you.”

 

GAME STATS

Age

34

City of Residence

Sarasota

Employer

Onzic, LLC DBA Restflix

Title

CEO

Birthplace

Columbus, Ohio

Years on the Gulf Coast

12

Marital Status/Children

Married with 2 Children

Alma Mater/Degree

Columbus State

What community group or organization are you most involved with?

Big Brothers Big Sisters

What's the weirdest job you've ever had?

Head of French Fries at Arby's. The smell is still in my clothes.

What's your top tip for being productive?

Break the day up with mini-tasks. This allows you to focus on each task individually. This will allow you to have greater focus and results instead of running all your tasks together and not fully focusing on any of them.

If you could have a side hustle, what would it be?

Getting paid to write the world’s most awful but hilarious dad jokes for TV. They’re so bad you have to laugh at how bad they are.

What's your favorite off-hours activity?

Cycling

What's your favorite board game, game show or video game?

Clue

What’s your go-to delivery service? (DoorDash, Uber Eats, GrubHub, Bite Squad, etc.)

How about Amazon?

What do you use most — Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or Google Meetings?

Google Meetings

What’s the best binge-worthy show you have enjoyed during the pandemic?

War of the Worlds

What’s the longest virtual meeting you’ve been on since mid-March?

1 hour

How many times had you used video for a work meeting prior to the pandemic?

60+

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during the pandemic?

I've learned to value people more and to slow down and enjoy life.

What do you miss most about the world pre-pandemic?

Being around my friends and enjoying their company.

What have you been spending more time doing during the pandemic?

Spending time with my family and being creative.

Do you prefer working from home or working from an office?

Office

How have you kept up camaraderie with colleagues during the pandemic?

Absolutely, I feed off of their ideas and energy.

What’s the first thing you’ll do after the pandemic?

Take the family to Disney.

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