Why Business Matters / by Chris Weigl

We were at a shoot in Menominee over the weekend and the question we kept getting was: what’s it like to start your own business?  I didn’t have a great answer at the time, but I have a good analogy now.  It’s like voluntarily stranding yourself on an island and expecting other people to join you.  Seriously, people will say you’re crazy and question every facet of your business.  If you don’t get that you must be doing something wrong.  No one has a business plan that is flawless.  At some point your business plan calls for involvement from people outside your circle of friends and that’s where you see what you’re made of.  We heard a lot of: well, I wouldn’t want to quit my day job.  When we pressed them as to why not their reasoning wasn’t laden with loyalty to their employer or even a love of their jobs, but a sense that starting a business is full of unknowns and a sense that they enjoyed things like: food, shelter and love too much to fight in order to make a difference.  That makes sense, but what’s the fun in life if you don’t take risks?  What are you doing here if you don’t fight for what you believe in?

The overwhelming opinion seems to be that if the future is uncertain then you should settle for what you have.  That’s fine if you don’t want to live your life to your potential I guess.  There is a sense however that people are becoming more and more risk averse especially in the wake of the Great Recession.  Economists say it makes sense because people don’t ever want to go through the jobs crisis that we faced post-2008 again.  We think that if anything we should be taking more risks in this environment.  Think about it: the market is more uncertain now than it has been in a long, long time.  The market is a great place for startups right now because banks aren’t lending to anybody which actually makes for a much more even playing field than you would get in most market cycles.  We see and understand the risk involved in doing something as big as changing the way that entertainment is delivered to consumers.  It’s a lofty goal, but it is one in which we believe the future is staked.  No one wants to be told they have to sit down and watch something on television anymore.  Remember the old ads for movie where the studio would tell you to “go see it today?”  You don’t hear that kind of language in advertising anymore because people don’t like being told what to do anymore.

With Netflix and Hulu taking up larger and larger market shares we continue to watch television not only fight to keep up with streaming service providers, but fighting to stay alive.  Advertisers are scared about advertising on TV because they know the audience isn’t there anymore.  The data is at best unreliable for television viewership for the same reason that “record sales” are a terrible barometer of where musicians stand in the music industry.  Industry leaders in television and film are making the exact same mistakes as the music industry and expecting different results.  We see the writing on the wall and we’re rushing in to fill that content vacuum.  People are looking for better ways to consume media they just need providers to step up and deliver the kind of service that they’re not getting from the big companies out there and that includes the streaming services.  Even though Netflix and Hulu offer a huge selection their catalog of watchable media is more limited than ever.  We’ve never seen so many people paying attention to what the date is so they can figure out what Netflix is dropping next.  It’s a crazy atmosphere and if there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that the market doesn’t like uncertainty.

What are consumers supposed to do though?  They clearly can’t trust the major media companies and streaming services don’t offer the same kind of consistency in programming.  People are screaming for an alternative to stand alone television and movie theaters.  Most of the best movies last year didn’t have a set in stone release date.  Most films that were worth seeing had complicated limited release schedules that audiences never understood and it’s becoming more and more apparent that this is a trend that we’re going to see continue.  At some point you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re going to put up with media companies continuing to try and trick you or if consumers are going to put their money behind something else.  Our money is on the latter.  Eventually, someone is going to harness the power of wi-fi in the same way that companies like Youtube utilized the internet.  It’s simply a question of when and how this is going to happen.  This is where we come in.  We offer a stable, reliable medium where both media companies and advertisers still have a seat at the table.

What we offer businesses is a better opportunity than what they currently have with the current ad-based television model.  We allow businesses to custom tailor their message with the content and shows that are being produced to create an immersive feeling for the viewer and allowing businesses to sell directly to a show’s fan base with their favorite hero or villain selling directly to them.  Think of how well businesses would have done had a show like Mad Men fully integrated it’s plot with it’s advertisers.  Don Draper selling products in between the act one and act two breaks could have been incredibly successful, but because the talent and more importantly the writers had their hands tied behind their backs they were unable to leverage the opportunity for the largest possible business gains.  This is the kind of opportunity businesses should be looking to exploit.  This is exactly the kind of thing that we’re doing and will continue to do by integrating businesses with our original content.  When someone sits down with us and hears what we’re doing to change the entertainment landscape they usually get excited and that’s exactly how everyone should feel about this because it really is exciting.  Our current project: This is Flyball is perfect for dog food providers and pet equipment sellers to get behind and appeal to a diverse audience.  Where most companies are pulling back in media is exactly where we’re going all in.  It’s an exciting time to be in business and we’re looking forward to taking you along with us on the ride.