Ex-Microsoft employees Peter Ostick and Josh Iselin teamed up last year to launch The Video Network, an internet TV sales platform.
Netus, which is 50% owned by News Corporation, has a 30% stake in the Sydney-based business, with Alison Deans, former CEO of eBay Australia, sitting on the TVN board.
Ostick talks to StartupSmart about the turbocharged growth of the venture.
Can you please explain what your business’ proposition is?
The Video Network enablesi TV advertising in Australia across IPTV, PC, mobile and tablet. TVN reaches 7.7 million viewers in Australia making it the largest premium video destination.
TVN has a technology platform called TVP which it licences to publishers to allow them to effectively manage internet TV.
Advertisers love sight, sound and motion advertising, which is why it has been the basis of any broadcast campaign for the past 50 years. The problem is that audiences do not tune into TV in the same appoint viewing way they have done in the past.
Audiences now access content on demand whenever and wherever they want across multiple screens. This is great for the viewer but causes a few headaches for advertisers trying to reach this increasingly fragmented audience with advertising messages.
TVN pulls these audiences back together in a way that makes it very easy for advertisers to connect with them.
TVN believes that the broadcast TV style reach combined with interactive advertising, which allows the viewer to decide what ad is most relevant to them, is the future of audiovisual advertising.
How did you come up with the idea for it?
The idea was driven by listening to advertisers and the frustrations they had with over-saturated TV advertising.
We have learnt a great deal from some of the challenges that Hulu faced in the US establishing the Internet TV market.
How has the business been funded?
TVN went through an institutional round of funding in November 2010 backed by Netus.
How did you manage to get your first client on board?
TVN initially partnered with Yahoo!7’s sales team to take the offering to the media market.
What is your hiring strategy?
TVN’s hiring strategy is to hire super smart individuals with infectious personalities. We love to work with individuals who share in our vision to enable internet TV in Australia.
We have managed to hire 22 employees in seven months without using a recruiter as employees come to TVN because they can have a real impact on the future direction of the business.
Overall, what would you say was the most challenging aspect of starting-up?
Balancing the highs and lows and staying levelled. Emotionally it is a rollercoaster like no other.
You also need to appreciate that the world does not revolve around your business idea. Just because it’s all you can think about sometimes you need to give friends and family a break from talking about it!
What is the greatest threat and the greatest opportunity your business faces?
Pretty much every media and technology business has a plan for the internet TV space, the wider ecosystem is already very evolved compared to static display media.
This is a potential challenge, but also a huge opportunity to partner with a wide range of both traditional and non-traditional businesses.
What would you have done differently if you started up again?
It’s a cliché but part of the journey is learning from the experiences you have, so not a lot. However, I wish I would have taken a photo of the den Josh and I used to work from in my basement in Tamarama.
Think 6am conference calls to technology partners in the US while wearing pyjamas. Actually I think Josh may be still doing that.
What are your revenue projections for the coming year?
We are currently around 30% of the market and we expect the market to be worth around $60 million this financial year.
What are your plans and ambitions for the business?
Our goal is to be the largest internet TV network in Asia Pacific. Scale is very important to our clients as they need to ensure they have operational efficiencies in the way they trade in the market.
We have found that you need a minimum of 25 people to operate the business per country with room for two major players.