How I Did It: Mike Fitzsimmons, Delivery Agent
As told to Aviva Yael
Industry Leader: Media
Three-Year Growth: 3,059.1%
Mike Fitzsimmons started Delivery Agent in 2001. His inspiration? Brad Pitt's sunglasses in Ocean's Eleven, which Fitzsimmons coveted. Delivery Agent runs a website, SeenOn.com, that lets you buy the cool stuff you see on TV, in movies, and in music videos. As you're watching a show like The Hills, you can log on to the website and buy products -- including the show's soundtrack and the American Apparel (AMEX:APP) leggings that Lauren Conrad is wearing. Here's how Fitzsimmons has refined impulse buying for the digital age.
Around 2000, I read a Wall Street Journal article about interactive television. I had just left a job in corporate development at Circuit City (NYSE:CC), where I had learned about how the entertainment industry and technology were colliding.
I knew a lot about market trends and the Internet. And I had a real desire to purchase things I'd seen in the media. I saw the potential in the marketplace for the marriage of these three things.
I founded the company in late 2001. We received our first financing in 2005, so the first three years, we were running a bootstrapped company. We did a million in revenue before our first round of financing came through.
Our technology showcases merchandise online while viewers watch a show. Then viewers can easily buy the merchandise they see. Or they can pick out products they've seen in movies.
Our clients are cable networks, major networks, movie studios, record companies, and celebrities. We just handled the Sex and the City movie. We deal with studio executives and work behind the scenes. For celebrities, we have a sales team that goes through their agents.
To get the deals done with the networks and gain the trust of our clients, we had to execute well on a few shows for starters. Our first transaction was for the movie Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Drew Barrymore's Union Jack shirt was the best-selling product. It was offered as a special feature on the DVD. There was an option-to-buy feature that directed people to our consumer website, SeenOn.com.
Our growth has been very strategic. We have a board of advisers made up of current and former industry executives. They make introductions to decision makers at the studios in exchange for equity in the company.
Digital media change so quickly, so you need fast thinkers. I have a phenomenal marketing director and a balanced, seasoned team. I make it a point to hire a team of entrepreneurs who are nimble, patient, and hungry. It's not easy to find them, but we're fortunate that Silicon Valley is a magnet that helps us find talent. I interview every employee.
There are a lot of companies out there that are trying to monetize entertainment content. In order to be successful in this business, you have to have shows that influence trends. That's our secret sauce. Then the key is to identify what in these shows will sell.
We have a relationship with Nielsen, so we can look at our shows' ratings and give a metric to the studios on the potential revenue of each show. We're going to expand the shows we're currently working on, with a heavy focus on international. Europe and Asia are next.