I am 31 years old right now, and seven years ago I started down this journey that is presently at a crossroads. SEVEN YEARS. I was 24 when I committed myself to breaking into the web TV industry, and now I’m 31. If I was to write about everything I have been through on this journey, it would fill hundreds of pages. It would be a book, and wouldn’t fit as a status update. So I’ll summarize as thus: I feel ancient. Sure, as of today the network I launched four months ago has over 800 Partner channels, 140 million video views and a combined 1 MILLION subscribers…but I know the story behind how I got here. I have failed as often as I’ve succeeded, perhaps even moreso. In some ways, I am still failing and I often lay awake at night worrying if I will ever arrive at the place I set out to be seven years ago.
I was once offered a six figure salary to stop this journey and work for someone else. I turned it down. Not out of arrogance but because I couldn’t betray my own convictions. I had this feeling in my gut that if I abandoned my startup and used the knowledge and experience I built on this long quest to benefit someone else’s, I would be abandoning the very qualities that make me who I am. I’ve made promises to others along this journey, that I would repay their faith with results. I’ve suffered a lot on this journey, and others have suffered with me. I am deeply resolved to stay the course until the mission is complete, no matter the falls that come before me. I want to achieve this dream, and I want to deliver upon my promises, even if they are delivered late.
But I’m tired. I’m tired of constantly re-explaining the same idea again and again to a different set of potential investors. I’m tired of the lengthy plane rides and the long bus rides to the edge of a city to have a 10-20 minute meeting. I think the longest ride I ever took was 12 hours, and the shortest was 4. I’m tired of emailing, I’m tired of pitching; I’m tired of talking about what I’m going to do.
I just want to do it. I just want to execute on the plan I’ve had for years and that I’ve constantly been tweaking, adjusting and improving upon as the market changes.
And I can do it. There have been people who’ve looked at tiny things as an excuse for failure. I distinctly remember the pitch panel judge who told me I was ignorant of the market by thinking I only needed a few thousand dollars in a marketing budget in order to build a userbase. Flash-forward to now, where I spent $35 in marketing to build Power Up TV to 857 Partners. THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS. Imagine — just freakin imagine — what I could have achieved if I had any real semblance of a marketing budget. I have learned how, through necessity, to stretch a dollar as far as it can go. This is not a skill I learned in college, or while working for a VC funded venture with a money hose. This is a talent I developed through the sweat and tears I’ve spent trying to build something completely from scratch.
This morning at 1 am I launched a crowdfunding project for Martell TV. Again. This is the third attempt. Each time the project failed in the past, I didn’t give up. I kept trying to make the damn app, piece by piece, a few thousand here and there. But the reality is this piece-meal method will not get the job done. The project has a goal of $40K, and it’s all or nothing. That means if we don’t hit $40K nothing will change.
But if we DO reach the goal, this changes: my seven year journey is vindicated. I no longer have sleepless nights where I dwell on the failures and beat myself up for an hour before writing more emails to potential investors. I don’t go on anymore 10 hour plane and bus rides to meet someone who will ultimately waste my time and money .
Instead I put into action that plan I’ve carefully cultivated: I build the best goddamn TV app the world has ever seen. I help creators make livable wages from their work; not just the super ultra highly viewed folks like Epic Meal Time and Pew Die Pie, but also the guys like Petros L. Ioannou , Ryan Dodd , Allan Brown and Eric Andrew Perez who also make really good stuff and deserve better. YouTube may allow any creator to publish their show and get views, but Martell TV will let any creator actually make a living doing so. I’m 110% convinced of it, and if that wasn’t the case I would have given up a lot time ago.
And if we rise to become a multi-million dollar company, I won’t sell out to Google, or Time Warner, or Yahoo, or any of these conglomerates. I’m going to build my own conglomerate to counter the business practices I detest. The government is about to end network neutrality, someone needs to rise up and offer an alternate when these mega corporations all merge together to screw over consumers and small businesses. I’ve got ideas on how to challenge them in the market, but it’ll take a lot of money, and I’d never be able to raise it if I can’t get this one idea off the ground. I also want to invest into startups I think have merit — I’ve met so many of them, and so many who go no where because they too can’t find an investor to give them a chance.
I want to build a better world. I don’t believe politics is the way to achieve that, I think I can do it the way folks like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did; building great technology that allows people to improve their own lives. I’m stuck at this one roadblock and it’s holding me back from the other things I plan to do down the pipe. Even if this one startup doesn’t become a huge company, if I can at least make it is a successful company I will be in a better position to raise funding for the next revolutionary thing I want to build.
Even if you don’t care about web TV, I would appreciate if you’d at least put $10 into this project to show your support of what I personally am trying to accomplish. At the worst, your name will be immortalized in the credits page of the app for the years or two until the company crashes and burns. But at its best, your name will be in the credits page of the app and all future versions in gold lettering, for the next 100 years it takes for some other genius to build a better app than me. And when I write my memoirs I will be able to say “This person was a friend when I needed one. This person might have only contributed $10 to the project, but they stood with me when I needed them to, and we got this app off the ground. I’d never have been able to do anything else that came after without them having pledged that $10.”
This may be the most important month of my life. For any creator who uses the app, this may very well an important moment in theirs. Please, I cannot say please enough, help me do this. http://igg.me/at/youtube-network-app/x/215096