Andrew Warner: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. Dude, listen, we are all messing around small time. I got a podcast. You may be. If you’re listening to me, you got a blog, maybe an Instagram account, whatever YouTube channel today’s guest has a frickin cable channel.
Talk about thinking big. And I have to be honest when I first heard about it, I said, Yeah, probably not going to work out. Maybe if it does, I’d love to do the interview person who introduced us, gave me the numbers, which I know I’ll he is not going to give us, look, look at your face. Ali, as I’m saying the numbers, it’s not gonna give it.
It’s impressive numbers, but the boldness of where you’re going, you’re not just sticking with the internet. You’re going online. Alright. Alia Daniels is the founder of Revry they’re alive and on-demand LGBTQ movies shows music and news broadcaster. They’re on Xfinity X, one Zoomo TV, TiVo, Roku.
Is it queer entertainment or queer media. I see a lot of news on your site.
Alia Daniels: Yeah, that’s what’s great. So we actually just launched, um, our reverie now channel. We just relaunched the entire service back in day. and reverie now is specifically queer news. Cause there wasn’t anything that offered that specifically.
Andrew Warner: For me when I was growing up, the guy would have been Ted Turner because he was a little out there. He was always borderline committing suicide. Honestly, he talked about taking lithium about his struggles because I think his dad committed suicide and he’d struggled with it. But he would do wacky things like by baseball team, then to get someone to pay attention to the baseball team, he would do these egg pushing races where people would put a spoon in their mouths and right.
Just pay attention. And then of course he created CNN and Turner classic movies. And so on you have anyone like that, that you looked up to as a kid and said that media person is doing what I’d like to do. Malcolm Forbes was another hero of mine, not, not Malcolm Forbes jr. But the original guy who grew that business into a bohemoth.
Alia Daniels: Personal personal is Oprah, just from the perspective of, she went from my personality. And not that I want to be a personality. That’s not my administrator by any means, but she went from a personality to a business woman. She understood very quickly to buy her show, to have her studio, to then leverage that, to create her magazine, to create her book called, she is the, the blueprints for what it meant to have a segment and then hit that segment in multiple ways in multiple places.
Andrew Warner: Ah, all right. So I get that. Here’s what I don’t get with you. I should say this interview is sponsored by two phenomenal sponsors, the first top talent for hiring developers, finance people, designers. And the second is HostGator for hosting websites. I’ll talk about those later. Here’s what, I don’t care.
What you, why didn’t you say. We’re going to create a YouTube channel. We’re going to create an online look at how you’re, you’re shaking your head. You’re blowing me off. Why, why does it have to be cable? Why does it have to be Roku boxes? Why does it have to be the Sinclair thing that I never, I didn’t even know Sinclair was doing this stuff.
Alia Daniels: You know what it’s, so I’ll tell it, tell you about the beginning. Right? So really what, how this came about is there’s four co-founders four equal co-founders. We all own the company equally. And, um, Damien told Tony who’s our CEO. He purchased the new Apple TV. So, which was like the fourth generation Apple television, which was the very first time that you had the opportunity to go to an app store.
It wasn’t predetermined apps, but you could go into the app store and determine what was going to be on your box. Right. And we know sometimes when Apple does something, it changes the world. So, and that’s exactly what happened. So we, he got the box. Um, he went in, he searched gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, everything within the LGBTQ umbrella, nothing came up, nothing came up.
This is November, 2016. , he did it again. He was like, we need to do this. And I always like to joke, and I say, this was the easiest yes. Of my life, because I’m like, absolutely it’s 100% and align with exactly what I want to do, which is to create more authentic and intersectional media. Right. So, , it was a very quick, yes.
And we were like, this is television. What we know is television is 100% going to change. And that was in 2016 and it absolutely has you look at the rise of the ability to create your own channel. And initially , we started as a subscription video on demand product.
You could download the app on your Roku, on all those different places, all at once iOS, Android, Roku. Those are where we started. . And the web of course, because. No, no brainer. Right. And we quickly learned for two reasons, one, we had an advertiser come to us and said, we want to advertise on your platform because we’d had articles come out, come out around us.
, like with Mac world, right. Which was like, Oh my goodness. It’s the gay Netflix. That’s how we were touted in the beginning. Right. And. , we quickly were like, wait a second, hold on. Number one, we can be can service advertisers. But number two, from an altruistic standpoint of our business, we recognize that, you know, being able to see yourself and representation changes lives, ?
So if folks are at a place in the world, not to some of the country, but a place in the world where being LGBTQ is still persecuted. So the place of death, in some places, they can’t put reverie on their credit card statement. So we needed to figure out a way to be able to reach those consumers. And also be able to have another revenue source, which is through the advertising
Andrew Warner: Okay, so first it was paid. And then you said we’re going to do advertising in addition. And so now you’ve got the free product from what I see, the free product, lets me watch live shows and a few on demand with commercials. And then, and I tried to skip the commercial. You guys are good at not letting me skip the commercials.
They’re short. It was like 30 minutes, 30 seconds. But I said, let me see if I could get past this thing. I couldn’t. and then if I pay, then I get past the commercials and then I also get. Unlimited on-demand viewership, but take me back to why you didn’t say let’s start with a YouTube channel.
Why did it have to be essentially what we’re talking about is a TV channel. There’s a vision here. There’s a thing here,
Alia Daniels: absolutely. So YouTube has been around for however many long years, It is saturated. There’s so much content there’s you, in order to even break through the noise of everything that’s in YouTube, because anyone can create a channel at any moment and start loading content.
There wasn’t one place where you could watch queer content. You’d have to either, either, either had to, they have to have had to spend a bunch of money in marketing. Or you had to have known about it. it’s your friends, that digital series. And you know that it’s there. Otherwise you’re searching through this and it’s like, it’s time.
It’s way too time intensive. So for us it was like, well, why don’t we curate and create our own channel, but something that’s proprietary. and you get all of the queer media you want. And I’m intentional about saying queer media because it’s not just, you know, short films.
It’s not just, , Digital series, but it’s full length. Television shows, it’s full length movies and there’s music and podcasts.
Andrew Warner: So Holly, what I’m seeing is one is your vision was going to be bigger than, than a YouTube channel. And number two. Also, it was opportunistic. You said there isn’t a channel here the kid who’s going to be YouTube famous in a year from now. They’re not creating a channel on Roku.
They’re not creating a channel on Apple. I don’t have to compete with all those voices. I get to stand out and I get to take it the production value. So the next level, which you’ve done. All right.
Is it inappropriate to ask you , if you’re queer.
Alia Daniels: Not at all. You you, 100% can ask and I am not. I am
Andrew Warner: So then what’s your connection to the topic?
Alia Daniels: For me personally, I’ve always had friends who are a part of the community. So I’ve been, , ancillary to the community for most of my life. I’ll be honest with you. Um, a lot of my friends, high school, college law school throughout the entire gamut have been queer. You know, I’ve gone to marches and protests
but for me again, it was, a very quick sort of, okay, if we’re going to do this, then we need to tell the story differently and we need to make sure that we’re telling stories that are generally ignored.
Andrew Warner: What do you mean?
Alia Daniels: traditionally queer media is white gay men, super hypersexualized, or coming out stories. So this is like cisgender versus transgender. Cisgender, do you identify with the gender you were born? So I identify as a, as a woman,
I identify as
Andrew Warner: .
So you’re saying traditionally, it’s not just men who identify as men, but they also want women in the way that the boroughs might want women. That’s what you saw.
Alia Daniels: , what I consistently saw was the very same stories of white cisgender men who were gay. That’s it very sexualized stories or the traditional sort of coming out story. And that was it where I knew. For a fact that there were more stories within the community that were not being told stories of people, of color stories of women.
Because I think the lesbian stories, stories of people who are bisexual were completely ignored within traditional media. You had your standouts here and there, but for the most part, you were only saying that one story and that’s really kind of, that was it. And so we were intentional when we created reverie that we were going to try our best to find and tell all of those stories.
Andrew Warner: Okay, I get it. Now, Huge market. How big is the market?
Alia Daniels: It is $917 billion in disposable income alone in the U S but then when we get globally, it’s four point $3 trillion in disposable income, which is a lot of money. But then if you want to drill down even further, when we look at like demographics in terms of age, so one in five millennials, that’s 25% identify as LGBTQ one in yes.
One in three of gen Z, identify as LGBTQ. So this is the up and coming market, right? So when you look at where the market is going, like right now, they’re making up millennials make up about 50% of consumer purchasing power. But think about 2030, it’s going to be 70% of the market. So you think 70% of the market share.
And then you think one in three gen Z and 21 and five millennial, that’s an, that’s a giant market. That’s
not being tapped into.
Andrew Warner: I can’t fact check you on the percentage of that sounds outrageous. the shift is that dramatic, but I get obviously huge market. You saw a new place to address the market. You saw Apple’s coming on board. You imagine other people are coming on board. I see the possibility here’s, here’s where I think most people would be stopped, which is.
How do we get this content, like where we can shoot in a video? And I asked you a very naive question before we got started. I saw I was watching a show. What was it? It’s complicated. I go, you created that. And you said, no, Andrew, that’s not how it works. How did you figure out where to get the content?
Alia Daniels: So here’s, what’s great. So again, there’s four co founders of the business, myself, Damien Apollo, Tony, who is our CEO. Well, Sean McGee, who was our CPR, chief product officer and Christopher Rodriguez, who is our chief business officer. All four of us have roots within entertainment and the digital space. So when we first came on and created this business, we went out to our own networks and said, okay, we’re building something, we’re doing something different let’s license content.
And we started out with digital short form, which was a form of content, which is really interesting. When we first started the business short films and a digital series did not have a lot of, traditional mainstream push.
So there’s a lot of amazing content that people couldn’t see unless they happen to know what that URL was on YouTube. And so we went after that content and brought it in to the service. And then as we continued to grow, we brought in more and more feature length films. Music has always been a part of the service because we realized, again, a one stop shop for all queer entertainment was really important to us.
, and we just continued to build, build it on. And so even now we have, creators who have created content that they reach out to us because they want to be a part of reverie.
Andrew Warner: what was the deal that you offered the first creators? How did, how were you able to pay them? Ah, okay. And so based on minutes watched. It based on views. So I’m imagining what it was was you say we’re going to take a hundred percent of the money that we have. Some percentage of it is going to go towards running this company.
The rest will be shared with our, with our content creators based on viewership. That’s what it was. That model is being used all, all over. Speaking of, I asked you, would you tell your revenue, I have your revenue. You don’t want to tell it. What, what do you feel comfortable saying?
And I understand why companies wouldn’t reveal their revenue here on Mixergy, but what do you feel comfortable saying about how big you are revenue wise?
Alia Daniels: our in terms of what we’ve, what we’ve made and what we’re making and our projections. Is it in the millions? Yes. Can I tell you that we’re 250 we’re, you know, available to 250 million homes and devices right now? Yes. And I think that’s a really good indicator of the type of scale that we have with what we’ve grown from our business, just from November of 2016. last month was huge for us in regards to it was pride, ? So pride is like our Christmas, everyone all just makes sense. . all advertisers everyone’s pushing , towards being supportive of the community, which they should be doing all year round.
but pride is always good for us. So one of the really cool things that we did participate in was, uh, global pride. So global pride was a 27 hour. Live stream events I think it was like something like 500 pride organizations around the world where you could turn on Redford on our reverie now channel for 27 hours.
And you could literally watch pride celebrations from around the world,
Andrew Warner: And I imagine that news broadcasts are then saying, who do we talk to on this topic? And now they’ve got somebody who’s, who’s credible, who’s in the space. Got it. Who’s interesting. Which is why you were, were you in the media a lot more in the last month or is it just seemed like it to me?
Alia Daniels: Yeah, definitely , myself and then my other co founders, Damien telecine, we both have been doing quite a bit of media. I was recently on cheddar. Uh, we’ve gotten interviewed in a bunch of places. We were just saying one of the top five new channels, uh, by Roku. all that are on Roku channels by ad age, lots of press around it because we launched our Waco channels channel.
We also launched our Samsung channel. So if you have a Samsung television that’s 2016 or newer, you literally can turn on your homepage and you’ll see rubbery.
Andrew Warner: This is where I should not. I’ve talked about this before. One of my problems is if I look at a guest website and it’s interesting, I just get sucked into it. This just, this does kind of feel like the queer Netflix look at this, right? it’s a really well-designed site. Who’s a design, who’s a UX person on your team.
Alia Daniels: Yeah. So our design is I actually, it’s funny. We all have to wear multiple hats because startup plan, our chief business officer, Christopher Rodriguez is also our head of design. So he worked with our developer bright Cove in order to develop what the UX looks like.
Andrew Warner: I just signed up for HBO max, just to see what it’s like. It’s, it’s awful. It’s an awful user experience, right? It’s completely like, I can’t do the little things that would just work on your site. Don’t work on their site
and they they’ve got such a headstart over you. Alright , let me talk about my first sponsor and then come back in and talk about how what’s the first step you took.
Once you had the content, how do you get the audience and then how do you get funding? And we’ll talk about all that. Thanks to HostGator. If you’re out there listening to me and you have an idea for a website, do it. I did. I got this guy, um, was looking for somebody to teach my kids about, about insects.
And someone on Twitter friend said, Andrew, I’ve got a guy. His name is Andrew. He works at the Sanford at the San Diego zoo. He’ll do a zoom with your kids. He did a zoom with my kids. My kids suddenly started to go in the backyard and started exploring and studying insects instead of being afraid of bugs.
and so I said, can I help you with anything? He said, I’d love to teach more. I really enjoyed what I did with your kids on zoom. I said, great. I got him a website online animal school.com and he’s still getting customers from that because people who are interested in having their kids both entertained and also learn about animals. Or signing up all because of this quick thing that came to me, um, just because I had a personal need built up the website.
Other people now are signing up and learning from him. If you’re out there, you’ve got an idea to do what I did go to hostgator.com/mixergy. They’ll make it easy for you to get started. I had no time to waste on this. I did this really quickly in our bedroom. To build up a website forum quickly up and running and start your business.
And HostGator will give you a good price. If you use a URL, hostgator.com/mixergy. In fact, it’s their lowest price, such a good operation, hostgator.com/mixergy. How, uh, how did you get your first audience?
Alia Daniels: So it’s funny. The number one, there’s a community need. Right. So you have to recognize that if there’s just a need and people start to hear about it, they’re like, Oh, thank God. Right? So we launched our product at, San Francisco pride. so. we came up with the idea in November of 2015, and then we actually launched the product in June of 2016. And so we all drove up ourselves. We were the marketing team ourselves. Our street team was the C suite of our business. We were all handing out flyers and talking to people, you know, in Dolores park for San Francisco pride.
Walking around talking to folks and just like, even, even just the excitement of people being like, Oh my God, I didn’t realize this, this, like I needed this, I need this. And then it just naturally happens. So once we launched the business, we then were written up in Macworld and that obviously had a ripple effect because once back world writes about you, a bunch of other publications write about you.
And then almost automatically we were downloaded in like a hundred countries. People found out about us and they were just like we want to be a part of this. So I want to be able to watch, you know, content of folks who look like and love like me. and then we were getting messages from people all over the world, almost right away.
You know, folks, I think someone reached out, I think it was LinkedIn reached out to our CEO , it was in the middle East and basically said, thank you so much for doing this. I’ve never been able to see a story of someone who identifies and looks like me and. You know, keep doing what you’re doing.
You’ve changed my life because in so many places, we take it for granted being in the U S the fact that we can see queer content a lot. Um, but even just in the middle of our country, being able to see other people who identify the same way that you do and who love the same way that you do, it makes you feel like you’re not alone.
Andrew Warner: And so why I wonder why you’d come. I love Dolores park. It’s great. I was just there yesterday with my hammock. But, um, I wonder why you would go and promote this one on one. It feels like it’s such a time suck and you’re going to get what a hundred viewers from doing that and
immediate, you need hundreds of thousands.
Alia Daniels: you got to start, you have to start somewhere. Right? So we were bootstrapped to the bootstrap of it. Like we spent our initial money on literally being able to develop the product on developing the apps. Right. So our very first product was on Vimeo OTT.
Built out. It was the very beginning. It wasn’t even the OTT at the time. It was
Andrew Warner: They have a product that makes it easy for people to create channels.
Alia Daniels: Right. So we were one of the very first channels who did this. And, uh, so then it was really about the San Francisco pride. We know that there are community is literally right there.
They’re all congregating in the same place. It was a no brainer to just get out there, wear the shirt, have the flyer, go talk to some folks. And then it was also helpful from the perspective of. You know, talking to your audience and knowing what they wanted from the beginning. Like, what would you like to see people being like, Oh, you should get this movie or you should go get this movie.
And like, even now we’re still going. And, you know, looking, remembering that list, we kept track.
Andrew Warner: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense that you’re starting to get a feel for what they’re into and maybe because they could be out because they could just have they’re a little bit ahead of the curve. You get a sense of what’s coming for everybody else. So the person who is in the middle East, who has no access to any shows is not yet aware that what these people are watching is what eventually they’re going to crave in the middle East.
That’s the vision. It seems like.
Alia Daniels: Yeah. Yeah. I am for ask our CEO. Damien is definitely an extrovert. He’s, he’s great with these things. He’s a natural sales guy. Uh, not necessarily for me, but it’s like, you take yourself out of it, right. You’re just going up and talking to folks and you make it a conversation. You’re not just being like download my app.
It’s like, Hey. Have you ever wanted to watch queer content and not have been able to? Let me talk to you a little bit about what we’re doing here and talk to me about what you want. Talk to me about what you’re looking for as a consumer, and then it’s a conversation, right? You’re no longer than they ask you.
Well, wait, what street team are you with? And I’m like, well, actually I’m the COO and that’s our CEO over there. You know what I mean? Like it’s, it’s, it becomes, and then they’re just like, Oh my goodness, it’s amazing that you’re doing this right. So it. You’re building relationship. This is a community. It’s not just an audience.
Yes. The money is there. Yes. Everything else is there, but you recognize there’s a community aspect to it. And when you talk to your audience from that perspective, you build trust.
Andrew Warner: Right. What about this? I think I was at that pride parade that year. Because my, my wife works in tech and , she works with the companies that she’s involved with to get them to be a part of causes that matter. And so I was at the parade. I go. I get it, but I feel like maybe I don’t belong here.
Like, am I mooching off of your world here by being here by getting your beads by getting into your music? I don’t know. I felt like maybe I sh I liked it. I loved it, but I felt like maybe I was out of place. Did you feel any of that?
Alia Daniels: Um, I think what’s really important about allyship and you and I were kind of talking about this before, is that. Recognizing where you stand in the room, ? So if you’re an ally, your job is not to be center stage. Your job is not to be in the middle, like taking up all the oxygen in the room. Your job is to support the community that the events or the experience is built around.
So it’s not to be, to say that you necessarily can’t be there. It’s just to say that you’re not the most important person in the room for this specific event. And so recognizing that I have to live with that specifically on a day to day basis within my job. Right. So yes, I am in leadership at a queer company and I’m not a queer person myself, but I take what I want from an ally as a black woman.
If I wanted you to be an ally to me, I think about that perspective. And I go, okay. So, what would I want from this perspective, come in and bring my experience, come in and bring my expertise, come in and bring my leadership. But then also at the same time, making sure that I’m amplifying the voices of the folks who need to be heard, that I’m making sure that I’m like, well, I might not be the best arbiter of what content is best per se, but I also can also say that’s a story that we’ve never heard before and that story needs to be hard.
So there’s, there’s balancing both of those things.
Andrew Warner: Oh, you’re going in there to understand their needs and help with that. Instead of taking attention on yourself, I feel like I’d have a problem with that for number one. I do like the attention and number two, it’s just so fun. You know, how do you not get to just do your thing,
Alia Daniels: It’s fun, but just know that you’re a guest. That’s it.
Andrew Warner: raising money then? How was that the first time?
Alia Daniels: Raising money is an interesting challenge, ? So from the perspective of as founders, we are incredibly diverse. There are two women of color on our founding team. Again, four, four equal co-founders there’s one immigrant, one veteran, you know, there’s overall three people of color on our founding team alone.
Right. So there’s always. The aspect of walking into the room and not looking like what the traditional founding team or quote unquote spiritual, because I’ll be honest with you when you look at who’s building and being, building more businesses more than anyone else right now, it’s actually black women.
But based on what you see in the media. Yeah, absolutely. I think the percentage has increased. It’s like something crazy, like 176% since 2017. Like it is. Fascinating of what we traditionally think entrepreneurs look like. ? So when you think about what that traditional entrepreneur looks like, and you walk into a room with a bunch of folks who look like what a traditional entrepreneur looks like, and you do not, there’s already that you have to walk in knowing that you have a viable product and a viable business, which we obviously do.
Then you get to the questions where you feel like, okay, am I jumping through hoops? Are you asking me this? Because you really want to know what the business is like, or are you trying to play the gotcha game? Because that also happens as well. And I think all entrepreneurs have this experience where sometimes you’re talking to a potential investor and you’re asking yourself, is this really this difficult?
Or are you just trying to make me jump through the hoops? You know, a linguistic thing of, you know, having a relationship we’re in media. Right. So having a relationship with a celebrity who knows the business and who’s worked with us closely, and then the question is, well, how much did you pay that celebrity?
Well, we didn’t pay that celebrity because we have a relationship with us. Oh. So you didn’t work with them. Gotcha. Well, that’s not, that’s not what’s happening here. Wait a second. You see what I’m saying? It’s an, it’s a, it becomes an implicit bias of trying to X you out of the room. So you have to be aware and cognizant of that.
And again, know what your business is. Stand strong in that business. And then. You know, the right people, the right investors will find you. So our very first institutional investor was backstage capital, just founded by Arlin Hamilton. This amazing woman who was created her entire thesis is built on supporting and funding, underrepresented founders who have a hard time getting funding simply because of who they are and what they look like.
And she was our first institutional investor and we had to present our business. We had to show her, we had a viable business, which we did, and then she invested. And since then they’ve been supportive. You know, not just financially, but also providing resources, providing community, providing so many things that has helped our business to grow.
I think when the right investors walk in the room, you’ll know.
Andrew Warner: And was it harder for you to find those investors, the right investors, or do you eventually then make it into a network that introduces you around?
Alia Daniels: Well, I think you make it into, I think it’s a combination of both. You keep building your business and the success of your business also speaks for itself, ? So money doesn’t lie. You can have whatever bias that you have, but at the end of the day, if you want to make money, you want to make money and therefore your business is viable.
But you also look at, , organizations that are actively invested in doing this work. So we are recently became a part of the Goldman Sachs black and Latinex, uh, cohort, which is this amazing program that Goldman Sachs has put together. There are 14 companies that have founders who are either black or Latinex or in our case, both, um, who.
Basically, it’s helping us all take our business to the next level resources and opportunities that generally we wouldn’t naturally have. But we do have as a part of being a part of this cohort, there were over 400 companies that apply to this and only 14 were chosen. And when you look at the work that they’re doing, it’s always with them, let us figure it out, let us help.
We can help you out. Like, let me introduce you to this person. Let me do this, that natural network that a lot of. Traditional entrepreneurs may have, they’ve opened their doors in order to be able to do this. And I really want to give them credit because yes, right now it’s very popular for a lot of VCs to have their funds in which they are, you know, supporting and actively trying to find black entrepreneurs who fund, because it’s.
On trend. Let’s be honest right now with everything that’s going on in the, just in the atmosphere. But Goldman Sachs had this program and they were building this program out a year ago. They
Andrew Warner: Which one.
Alia Daniels: and Latinex cohort. They were building it out. Then they launched it with us.
We were the first cohort, but they made it a point of telling us this is something they’ve been working on. So this isn’t just something to do. And, and I think that’s also important as paying attention to the folks who were in and wants to be in, not just, we want to look like they’re doing the right thing at the right time on the cover of fast company. That’s it? It’s about damn time is what it’s
Andrew Warner: About downtime. Yeah. For some reason I was censoring the damn part. Like that’s a problem, you know what? I have to be honest with you. When you told me that she invested, I nodded and just made a note to go look her up afterwards. Cause I didn’t know who she was
Alia Daniels: Yeah. You absolutely do. She’s on the cover of fast times. I think reading her book is really interesting because she literally started with nothing and she wanted to change the way that yeah. She wants to change the way that VC works. And she built an entire fund as invested in over a hundred companies of underrepresented founders, women, people of color LGBTQ specifically, because she knows that we don’t get in the room or if we get in the room,
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Tell me what’s going on. And so I got this guy, Jack. He helped me. We were so prepared for COVID because last year he just got on me, Andrew cut expenses, adjust this. You’re not seeing this opportunity here. Just kept adjusting and adjusting and adjusting and forcing us to cut. And then when PPP came around, it was so confusing.
What do we do about this? He said, Andrew, I am talking to the senators who are doing this. I’m going to get you the notes from my conversation. He just did it. Cause he, he liked sharing his notes and then he helped guide us through it. When we had problems about what do we need to do to get the loan forgiven.
He said here, the way things have changed since this first came out. All of that because we went to top talent. Yes. I hired developers from them. Yes. I hired a designer from them, but I’ve also hired a finance person from them. And this guy is amazing. And I asked him, I said, dude, what are you doing?
Working with companies like mine for just like a couple hours a month. He said, I do this because I want to be aware of what other businesses are doing. I want to get in your business. And basically Andrew, you’re paying me to learn about your space and about the way that your companies operate so that I could bring it to the bigger businesses that I work with.
Phenomenal. All right. So if anyone out there is looking to hire a course, you know, for developers go to top talent, you might’ve heard me say for designers, go to top tab, but if you need a finance person, even if you’re putting your deck together, your spreadsheets together, Outsource it to somebody who is way, way, way better that than you added by going to top talent.com/mixergy.
If you throw the slash Mixergy at the end, you’re going to get. 80 hours of developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours, in addition to a no risk trial trial period of up to two weeks, more importantly, you just get a button, you press and talk to a real human being and see if it’s a good fit for you.
If it’s not totally fine. In fact, I get a lot of complaints from people who say it’s not a good fit. They told me no. Good. I don’t want them to just take your money. I want to make sure it’s a good fit for you. Top cal.com/mixer. Do you know, let me pronounce it. I still talk too fast. T O P T a l.com/m I N E R G Y.
So, um, I’m just really excited about your model. The model was, look, we’re not going to create the content, the contents out there. We’re going to partner with the people who have it. You went to the small, the people had shorter form content. And my guess is that they were more amenable to making a partnership with you.
Right. But at some point you needed to go to get, to get the movies. Isn’t it hard to make deals with, with movie studios, with movie creators.
Alia Daniels: I mean, so we work directly with distributors, right? So the producers create the films and the distributors actually distribute them. And so we would work directly with the distributors and for us, we went to the, sort of the traditional queer queer distributors, and we worked out deals with them. They recognize like what we were doing, you were able to create deals.
, as we scale our business, we’re able to scale up and reach out to different distributors along the way. But, you know, I think, I think our, our chief business officer Chris Rodriguez he’s closed, like. He, and I are both lawyers by the way.
So there’s two lawyers on the founding team, which always helps to get you through. But, um, we, I think he’s closed, like something crazy, like over 500 contracts or something like that.
Andrew Warner: They’re not, they’re not committed to other people and have exclusivity. You didn’t find that it was difficult to know.
Alia Daniels: Sometimes, sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t, you build, you’re willing to do it. You build your window in. Right. So you decide like, okay, well maybe they can have the first one though, but we’ll have the second, or, you know, especially as we’re working with bigger, more and more distributors now, sometimes it’s like, okay, we can’t give you the content now, but you’ve got the second window and you’re the exclusive for right there.
And then again, we also realize that sometimes there’s content that is going to be in other places, but. We are very exceptional in that we have what we like to call an LGBTQ exclusive. So we’ve built our library and you’re not going to be able to take our library and build basically a rubbery to point out.
That’s not how this works. So what that means is that if you have a product, if you have a district distribution with it, that is, um, specifically targeting LGBTQ, um, audiences. You. Are not allowed to basically are creators. Can’t put their content on your site. However, if they want to go to a Netflix or Hulu different game, different ballpark, but for us, it, it prevents any potential competitor who comes out from coming in, downloading our app.
Look at it all are all of the creators. We’ve got all the constant we’ve got and then replicating our library. That can’t happen.
Andrew Warner: Okay. Well, I guess I would have thought that getting movies would have been a lot harder from the distributors. No. I thought they were, they were. So if, imagine if Andrew said, you know, what, what I really want is not just the interviews I’ve got, as I got to think bigger, I’m going to create the, the ambition, the ambition channel, right?
Maybe I like the secret of my success. One of my favorite shows growing up, I can’t go to the, to the distributor for secret of my success, the movie, and get, get it on my platform. Can I, especially if I
Alia Daniels: Yeah, it’s business it’s business. Now, granted, I don’t know what your deal is going to look like. And they’ve got to be willing to come to the table and play, but at the end of the day it’s business. So if they have the rights to distribute the content, you go to them and say, Hey, I’d love the rights for this specific.
Demo. So let’s say you only want, yeah. So let’s say you just want to, do, you do just want to do a YouTube channel. You go to YouTube audience. You want to be able to have your channel on YouTube, which I wouldn’t recommend own your own stuff, but if you want it to do that, get the, get the rights, just to be able to watch on YouTube, then the rights might be cheaper because you’re not asking for everything.
You’re just asking for your niche, what you want,
Andrew Warner: Oh, because you say I needed just for my niche. It’s my exclusive thing. Well, what was that? Uh, because it’s just for my niche. I could get it
Alia Daniels: Yeah. It’s deal-making it’s steel-making think about how you’re negotiating with any of your vendors. They’re a vendor. It sounds exciting. And it’s sexy because it’s Hollywood, but
Andrew Warner: Great. Well, I guess I was thinking about like all the arguments over friends that Netflix had friends, but then when HBO, max came out, they were going to get friends and they were going to tie up friends just for them. But you’re saying not everything is friends. Got it. So this, the, the not friends shows are much more flexible.
Alia Daniels: Yes, because content is content. Their job is to monetize the content. So if you’re coming to them and saying, I’m going to play, I’m going to pay you a fee to be able to have your content distributed on our service. Sometimes content that isn’t in other places that’s just kind of sitting on the shelf,
Andrew Warner: Okay. And were you guaranteeing them a certain amount of money? Got it. Okay. All right. That, that helps me understand the business. You then, uh, you raise a little bit of money.
Alia Daniels: Oh, gosh, our friends and family. Uh, so we’ve had a forensic family and we’ve had a seed. So overall we’ve raised, uh, both rounds has been, uh, just under 2 million.
Andrew Warner: Okay. That’s not that much considering you’re in immediate space, right? The software. You didn’t have to create yourself with Vimeo, allowing you to get all the apps that you needed.
Alia Daniels: Yep. So then we, we actually switched to a different developer. Um, and with that developer, that’s how we actually transitioned into being able to do the advertising video on demand a bod service. Um, and then you transitioned this, this recent time with our brand new developer now bright code, which allows us to have the subscription video on demand.
It allows us to have the advertising video on demand, and what’s really new and exciting about our newest applications and, um, Programs is the fact that we have our live channels. So anytime that you turn on red breather or for live completely 24 seven watching advertising, it’s just like television, you just turn it on and there’s TV ready, streaming right back at you, but for different channels that you can watch it anytime available on the service.
Andrew Warner: You know, the thing that surprised me was I wasn’t asked for my email address or anything I could just hit play. Why aren’t you asking for email address or sign in with this? You will
Alia Daniels: You will. Yes. So that’s, that’s, that’s part of the next step. But if you create, now, here’s the thing without putting your email address and because you can register as a user, he registered as a user, you get additional things, right? So you can create your own list of, Oh, I wanna remember to watch this or, Oh, I want to do this and Oh, send me a reminder when the thing comes on live.
Cause I want to watch it on live. Like you’re able to do those types of things.
Andrew Warner: And so that’s your funnel. It’s people come and watch on your site for free. Eventually there’ll be collecting it. You’ll be collecting email addresses, but for now they watch for free and they say, you know what? I don’t want to watch a commercial. They’re pretty clever that I can skip the commercials I’ll just pay.
Or I like this one episode of it’s complicated. I want all of them two seasons, right? I get to get them all and that I have to pay. And you’ve never developed your own software from scratch. It’s bright Cove. It’s Vimeo. It’s another company you just using their software. Let them deal with this and customize to you.
Right. They seem very proud that you’re on their platform from what I saw, Oh God. I didn’t realize that you didn’t even have to create your own software for it, that you could just use them. So the other question I was going to ask you is I know that that investors hate to deal with hits businesses, but that’s not what you’ve got here. You basically have a platform and they love platforms, right?
And especially the bigger you get, the more market power you have, which then helps all the way around. Right. All right, so that part’s getting out of the way. What have you found now from investors as you’re starting to talk to them with black lives matter, going on, are you noticing a change in tone?
What are you seeing?
Alia Daniels: I think, I think investors are a little more conscious of what’s going on. I, I, it’s funny. I remember waking up one morning and looking at the news and seeing all of these new funds are, are specifically targeting the black founders, which I was like, great. Amazing. It needs to happen. Um, like absolutely needs to happen.
And so I was very excited to see that. And I think there are more folks coming to the table who are willing to talk to us and are, are interested to get in the room with us simply because we are, you know, 75% people of color found it. I think again, it’s unique, but it’s only really unique because we’re only used to seeing a certain type of entrepreneur
Andrew Warner: For cosmetic reasons, these investors, are they just putting on a show and saying, Hey, we’re going to be the diversity company? Or do you think that they’ve realized that there’s an undervalued asset?
Alia Daniels: I think, you know, I can’t speak to complete motivation. I mean, sure. It looks great right now, but I also think there’s an education that’s happening that maybe. Investors are recognizing potentially biases that they had. And so they weren’t paying attention to the entire field of potential investments that they could have made.
And so now they’re specifically targeting, um, founders who are, you know, people of color and black in particular because they recognize that there are opportunities. These are companies that can make money, let’s make money. I mean, at the end of the day, they’re a venture capitalist, right? Their job is to make money.
So. I think it’s just a matter of education of recognizing that, Oh, I should be paying attention. I actually should. They’re really viable, successful businesses that I have an opportunity to make money with. Why am I not paying attention? I need to be paying attention.
Andrew Warner: You collect your own credit cards. You get to keep it. If you move away from bright Cove to
Alia Daniels: Yeah.
Andrew Warner: you do. So you’ve got a SAS business for 99 a month, right? People pay six 99. If they pay monthly four 99, if they pay it annually, I got to tell you, one thing that I suggest you do is just listed a four 99 a month.
Just here’s the price it’s free or pay or pay four 99 a month. Well, I guess for,
Alia Daniels: I’m a lawyer. The lawyer in me is, yeah, the lawyer may is like, you gotta be, gotta be
Andrew Warner: gotta be super upfront with people. That’s what it is. Or do most people pay annual or pay,
Alia Daniels: You know what it’s actually, um, okay. We see a pretty pretty even split. I’ll be honest with you, uh, people who just want to go ahead and sign up and then they’ve got it for the year and then they’re, you know, don’t worry about it.
Andrew Warner: And we’re looking at a world where people feel comfortable now paying for content on a monthly basis. If you’re not an ESPN fan, which is not your you’re going to see a lower price, right. For assembling your collection of channels and people are. Are doing it. This is the way the world is moving
Alia Daniels: that’s right. Especially now. Well, I mean, COVID right. Home entertainment definitely went on the rise and you look at the way in which the services like ours, we’ve seen an increase on. What’s really funny about us is that we did relaunch our service in the height of COVID. So that was a fun experience experience as well.
Well, cause so we weren’t, we haven’t really been, we’ve been in market our business. Right. We were building a product and we didn’t want to send a bunch of people through, to an old product when we could just focus all of our attention, building the product. Right. And then market accordingly. Right. So, and it, it worked out our timing.
I’ve got to tell you. What’s perfect. So COBIT hits people are in the house. Too, you’re running right into pride month. So folks are looking specifically for queer content. So now they’ve got an opportunity.
Andrew Warner: And so did you see that an increase in subscriptions and COVID what size,
Alia Daniels: And you look and you, and you. I mean, probably about a 20% increase. So you’re looking at you’re looking at, and then we also started marketing even more. Right? So you now you’ve got, our ads are running on Facebook and YouTube and Instagram. So we’re targeting specifically our audience and we also have a brand new way for people to watch, which is super important, especially during COBIT, because again, it’s a funnel.
Right. So if people are spending all these money, all this money on subscription services and nine times out of 10, they can’t even get in the door without putting a credit card down. Well, they can download rubbery, walk in the door and start watching live content. As they’re watching live content, they go, Oh, well, what’s the show.
I want to watch more of this show. And they find it in VOD and maybe they watch the first episode. And then they’re like, Oh, I want to watch the rest. Now they need to subscribe.
Andrew Warner: That makes a lot of sense. All right. Let’s close it out with diversity. I have to tell ya. I have a hard time finding. More women entrepreneurs to interview more black entrepreneurs interview. And I wouldn’t even say like African American. I want to go beyond the U S more international people in general.
I struggle. Last year, I traveled all over the world to see people in person, because if it was a thing where I was traveling, people are more likely to say yes. And I’m just looking for, for interviews where I’m doing somebody else, a favor you are looking to hire, how are you? What’s your diversity numbers look like and how are you doing it?
Alia Daniels: Yeah, absolutely. So right now we are 60%, our entire team, 60% women, 60% POC. Um, and then we work directly with, I mean, listen, diversity’s important and we all know this. Everyone who’s listening to this is completely aware that the more diverse your. Because from a monetary number one, it’s right.
It’s something we should be doing. But number two, from the perspective of, just from the business perspective, we know, and we’ve seen study after study that shows the more diverse your team is, the bigger your bottom line is. So if you want. Diversity of opinion. If you have someone in the room, who’s thinking about things completely different from the way that you’re thinking about things and everyone who’s making the decision looks the same, thinks the same operates the same.
Then you’re not thinking about the different ways that one, your idea might not be the best idea or two away for you to scale that idea to help you make even more money. So you need just like different. The diverse experience and viewpoint of just your background, right? I’m from the Midwest. One of my cofounders is from Canada.
One of my cofounders is from the East coast. One of my cofounders is from California and that’s a geographic diversity. That’s not even the background of how we grew up or how, you know, all of these different thought processes come into play when you’re building a business, because it couldn’t, it can’t, and shouldn’t be the same opinion.
Driving the train. You’ve got to be able to have diversity of opinions because then it allows for your business to have, and reach different audiences that maybe you weren’t reaching before. Right. So from that perspective, we do that, but then we also partnered with the city of Los Angeles. So they have the evolve entertainment fund, which was launched a couple of years with mayor Garcetti, Ava, Ava, DuVernay, and Dan Lin.
And through that, we work with interns specifically from underrepresented communities who want to break into entertainment and we’ve been able to actually hire people through that program. So they intern with the company, um, they learn our business, we work with them and then they come on in a, you know, They’re employed and we’ve, we’ve hired a couple of interns just from that perspective alone people who generally don’t have that have necessarily the connections.
Cause you think Hollywood connections, somebody knows. So, and so they get in the door. So that’s one way for us that we’re actively trying to bring people into the door who may not have traditionally walked in
Andrew Warner: All right. What else? Give me one other tip that you’ve got for doing that for doing it right. But doing work for getting diversity done either in the door or once the person’s in the door.
Alia Daniels: Listen. So have, have candid conversations, allow your employees to feel like they can have an opinion. I think that’s important without losing the fact that at the end of the day, you’re driving the ship because that’s important, but also. Ask an opinion. What do you think about this? Right. Maybe they’re seeing something that we don’t see.
And then also I think for our, for us, but also for other companies, when they’re thinking about the diversity piece, it’s not just your workforce, it’s your leadership. You have to ask yourself who’s in the room and who’s making decisions. And if everyone who’s making decisions from the same background,
Andrew Warner: Yeah. You know what I even think about just my own tech world. If we got a few people in the tech world together, they would for sure build an app, they would for sure, you know, take every part of the development process as their responsibility, without even being open to the fact that. There are these platforms that will create the apps for you.
Right? That little bit of change in thought comes from having somebody who has a different perspective. And you’re saying this gets multiplied the more diverse, the more people you get on board. All right. I got to tell you all, this is great. The thing that just excites me is the level of like the opportunity you saw the vision that you’ve got for it.
And now that I see it, it makes total sense. Right? You’re seeing that this is an underserved audience. These platforms are making it easy for people to get the channels that they want. People are not paying a hundred bucks a month for, for cable, from Comcast. What they’re doing is buying these different Comcast packages where they could pick and choose what they want or they’re buying Apple TV or this or that.
I wish I didn’t invest it. I wish I would have invested. All right. And for me also, I just love the layout and design of your site. You guys really do a good job with this. It’s so fricking easy. HBO max should be hiring whoever’s there. They should buy you just so you could remake HBO. Max. It’s not a bad platform.
They really have gotten better than HBO was before, but they’re not like reverie. Alright. The site is reverie.tv for anyone who wants to go check it out, right?
Alia Daniels: Yup. And any advertisers who want to advertise? We do that too. So what are some.
Andrew Warner: the advertising. I’m curious what you guys again? Okay. All right. And I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen.
The first we’ll host your website, right? Whatever your business idea is, bring it over to HostGator. And if you don’t like your hosting package or do what I did, I liked my hosting package, but I like saving money. I just called HostGator. I said, let’s move. We moved. Nobody even noticed, except for me, because now I see that I get more money every month because I don’t have to pay for hosting.
So hostgator.com/mixergy, we’ll do that. And finally, Top towel. Thank you so much for sponsoring me. If you’re looking to hire developers, designers, or finance help go to top cal.com/mixergy. Thank you so much for doing this interview,