To start off our Celebrating YOU! small business profile series, Leslie Marsh of mediAm shares the experience of the start-up process and mediAm's contributions to a sustainable film production industry.
At mediAm, our mission is to foster the growth of all types of media production by engaging audiences in a new form of distribution. Learn more at mediAm.ca.
Tell us about your business.
mediAm digital distribution, inc. is a Transactional Video On Demand (TVOD) distribution platform. It provides the most powerful tools available to the filmmaker/provider to market their content directly to the viewer, thereby cutting out the layers of intermediaries that have traditionally been the gatekeepers. This means that more money is returned to the creatives, enabling them to produce more content, thereby making for a more sustainable and vibrant film industry. The flip side to the mediAm coin is that mediAm provides powerful tools for viewers to discover content without the platform irrelevantly interceding or obscuring the possibility of finding a more eclectic range of tastes and interests that cut across the categories of entertainment, documentary, educational and performance. No-one else does this.
mediAm's conceptual genesis goes back to 2003, predating a famous California-based company by some five years. With the technology finally catching up to the idea, a prototype was built in 2009, and now we are out there and open for business.
What is your favourite part about owning a small business in your community?
In the service of a paycheck, workers typically rationalize the importance of what they do or they just put up with the grind of routinized work, "office politics," lack of innovation, low morale, incompetence, freeloaders, etc. We've all at some point worked in such an environment. Owning and running one's own business is the best antidote to an aversion to the aforementioned state of affairs. Aside from a greater vested interest and incentive, there is the satisfaction of building something from scratch -- it is creative!
What advice do you have for others aspiring to start their own small business?
Speaking of creativity, the motivating force should be an idea and not the money; the latter is the icing on the cake so to speak. On our office door at North Shore Studios we have a photo of Buckminster Fuller with his quote: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” This speaks to creativity as the prime business rationale and indeed prime virtue: the "paint-by-numbers" MBA (i.e.. one who can pass and even do well in exams) is not typically entrepreneurial and probabilistically speaking, will not make the "serious" money. One needs vision, imagination, and one needs to be historically, sociologically and culturally informed -- in addition to being able to read a balance sheet. Follow your passion whatever that may be -- only there will you find the creative opportunity and it will be far more gratifying and potentially more financially rewarding than the old 9 to 5. And if you fail, try again -- the experience gained really is more valuable than your diploma.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of doing market research and how has the Small Business Accelerator supported your research?
In our particular case, the market research merely validated our business intuitions and more precisely articulated the behavioral/technological trends that we saw (and continue to see) happening around us. Of course, having decent and recent datasets and analyses on hand, is useful to any business plan and potential investors.
Having online access to a variety of premium marketing databases along with the superb personalized support and advice of the Community Engagement Librarian (Business Services) was infinitely more useful to us than a prominent North American market research firm that took our money and delivered only the most cursory of reports. The SBA empowered us, something that we appreciate given that we are in turn trying empower filmmakers and viewers.
In the next two to three years, what additional resources do you anticipate needing to grow your business?
We are of course looking for financial investment to expand and improve the mediAm platform. Hand-in-hand with attracting new investment is the idea of global franchising, making strategic alliances and just getting known as being the best in the field and the most ethical.
This profile is part of the SBA's Celebrating YOU! Campaign to recognize the vitality that small businesses and start-ups bring to the culture and economy of Canada. To learn more about access to premium research databases through UBC, check out information for UBC Library community users & visitors.