This post is a followup to ‘Today I really need all my friends..‘ which I wrote when I launched the Indiegogo campaign. We’re now three weeks in and have (as of this writing) raised $3,300 toward our goal of $40,000. Yay!
I have an article I am working on called ‘The Rise of Martell TV – An Indiegogo Examined’ which will delve deeply into how I’ve been raising the money for this campaign, but I won’t be publishing it until after our campaign has ended. Instead what I want to do is talk about where my head is currently at.
New partners = new friends
We’ve had people step up to the plate and pledge actual dollars to help us build this app. They’ve done it to get the insanely discounted prices (lifetime memberships, Station bundles, and tons of support + promotion) but they’ve also done it because they believe my startup can build this app and make it work. And I thank these people who have put faith into us.
Thank you, really. We cannot do this without you and that will never be forgotten. I’m excited to work with you all as the pioneers of our service.
Naysayers, or the people who just don’t get it
But we’ve also had some naysayers. I had someone on reddit call us a scam a few days ago. I’ve watched people ridicule the very idea that hourly programming is a good thing, labeling it as backwards-thinking. But it’s not back-ward thinking.
Just because you can search for videos on YouTube, Netflix and Hulu doesn’t necessarily mean the videos you find are stuff you want to watch. A lot of it is noise.
This is largely because audiovisual content doesn’t lend itself to text-based searching (unlike a web page, a video doesn’t have any words for a search engine to index, unless the creator actually spends the time to fill out the info-boxes — and then they need to be an expert at SEO to get any results). But it’s also because a significant portion of the human population is nigh-illiterate and can’t even spell the titles of the TV shows they do watch. And that’s not even considering the people who have reading disabilities like dyslexia, which frustrates their ability to use search engines effectively.
My father, as it happens, is dyslexic. So is 20% of the US population. When you struggle to read or write sentences you tend to gravitate toward audiovisual forms of entertainment, like TV. The folks at YouTube seem to have either forgotten this, or simply don’t care.
But you don’t need to be dyslexic to appreciate a schedule. Hourly programming has worked so insanely well for the TV industry because people only need to remember where a Station sits in a channel guide, and what time of day their favorite shows air. And talented TV programmers schedule shows to play at times that make sense (e.g. teen shows in the afternoon after school is out, dramas when adults are home from work, etc) to help them be discovered by their target audiences.
(I should point out, hourly programming is only one of the features of our app. Shows can also be watched on demand and we do have a Pandora-like search function that learns the users’ taste in shows to help them find new stuff to watch. But the nay-sayers don’t usually get that far into the campaign page)
So if you ask me if I sincerely believe creating this app is worthwhile, the answer is unequivocally ‘YES‘.
I don’t know if our app will make the world a better place but it will make the experience of watching web TV a lot better. I think that is meaningful.
Promoting this campaign has been exhausting. I’m not complaining; I knew what I was getting into when I decided to do this, and every time we get another pledge I get fired up all over again. But I’ve been shouting from the rooftops for three solid weeks to the point I’m annoying even some of my Facebook friends, and I’ve got two more months of this to go until the campaign ends on August 21st.
VidCon was work. I’d like to say I had a good time but the truth is I didn’t go to any events. Instead I hunted for industry and press badges, and grew my contact list by over 250 people working in some capacity to the web TV industry. I hope that won’t be the case next year, as I’d really like to see some of the concerts and attend panels in the future.
But VidCon was work. I walked the floors until my feet were literally bruised and bleeding, and then I kept walking for several hours more. Even after the convention was over I stood in some stupid line for a Maker Studios party — I stood in that line for four hours even though I had an RSVP. And why? Because I was still on the clock; I was still trying to network for the success of my company.
And that is one of the biggest reasons why I am going to make Martell Broadcasting Systems, Inc. successful. I will do whatever it takes. I have met many professionals in the film and TV biz, and the majority of them don’t have anywhere near the pain tolerance I possess. Someone ranted to me after the convention about how they refused to “lower their standards of living“, going all out diva-mode on me over completely pointless crap. I’ll not get deeply into what was going on there, but the important thing to know is this:
I don’t give a fuck about my standard of living.
I spent the early part of my adult life in the US Army. I have slept in mud, snow and sand so tainted with chemicals it would irritate any exposed skin. Even before deployment I went through everything the Ft. Knox Drill Sgts could throw at me, and back when I was trained that shit was not co-ed and the Drill Sgts could and did train us in the old-fashioned Full Metal Jacket fashion.
I can endure anything, because I’ve already endured damn near everything. Any time things don’t go exactly as I plan, I have those memories to fall back on to remind me that none of what I’m going through right now is a big deal. This is all small potatoes compared to my military experiences.
The ONLY thing I care about is if I can make this company successful. This is the mission I’m devoted to right now, and I serve it with the same level of loyalty I possessed as a soldier. That’s the main thing that separates me from others seeking to do similar things.
There are a lot of entrepreneurs starting companies looking for a quick pay-day. I don’t really care about the money. I’m not at this to make obscene amounts of money; I’m at this to accomplish a list of goals which happen to require obscene amounts of money.
There is a big difference. People who just want to make money will do all kinds of things in the pursuit of making money. For me money is just the route, not the goal.
I want to build the future of television. I do not want to be acquired by Time Warner Cable; I want to replace them. Not only do I believe their business model sucks, but I think I can do a better job of providing audiovisual content to viewers and servicing the needs of the content owners. Some folks have told me that I’m arrogant to think like that, but every entrepreneur believes they can do something better than someone else can.
I mean, do you think Henry Ford didn’t believe his cars would be faster than horses? Or that Steve Jobs didn’t believe personal computers would better empower people than IBM mainframes? I challenge you to name any revolutionary who genuinely believed his / her method wasn’t better than the status quo. Go ahead, tell me in the comments below.
To be an entrepreneur requires a strong faith in yourself to create something better. The moment you lose that faith, your venture is over. And the more difficult the challenge the stronger that conviction needs to be.
I’m seeking to disrupt the business model of the world’s most powerful companies. My conviction has to be forged of adamantium.
But I really don’t care if people think I’m arrogant; the only thing that matters is if I’m right, and I’m validating that I’m right with this project. People are buying Stations because my views on how the television industry ought to work are aligned with their own. I may run this company, but it’s not about me; it’s about the people this company serves to assist.
- It’s for the people who don’t want to pay $120 a month for cable when all they want to watch is HBO and surf the web.
- It’s for the people who are tired of searching for web videos and just want to subscribe to a Station and get delivered 24/7 high-quality shows the way real TV stations work.
- It’s for the people who aspire to write and produce their own films and TV shows, but can’t make any money on YouTube even when they have television-worthy production values.
- It’s for the people who miss local programming like The Ramblin Rod Show which are dying out in the current atmosphere of network-owned Stations.
- It’s for the people who miss Saturday morning cartoon blocks, and want their children to experience something like that. You know why it’s gone? Sports programming makes more ad revenue for the networks than children’s programming does. I’d like to see it return, and for more animators to find work because of its return. I deeply want to have Saturday morning cartoon blocks on one of my Stations, and hope other Station owners in our app will follow suit.
- It’s for people who don’t want a middle-man like YouTube standing between their relationship with viewers and advertisers. There are very important reasons why the Martell TV system allows Station owners to sell their own ad inventory and receive the email addresses of their subscribers, and the most important is because I believe the people who produce the content deserve to have a relationship with the people who love their work.
Basically, it’s for the people who love television like I do and want to preserve it for future generations. A world where the most popular TV shows are about funny cats, pranks and people playing videogames all day is going to be a very depressing world for a TV aficionado like me to live in. I’m going to prevent that world from happening by giving creators of long-form high-production value story-telling all the tools they need to be successful, and I’m going to make sure the margins balance out so they can keep making great shows again and again.
I’m building the future of television.
I’m going to be successful because I want to do it more than anybody else.
Who’s with me?