Ari Taub is the CEO of ETVN Media, a TV network for entrepreneurs. ETVN takes videos created by entrepreneurs and helps get them on TV around the world. They also offer additional support to the entrepreneurs who need help making their videos.
Having worked for years as a tax lawyer, Ari used to spend his days wearing a suit and figuring out how to help people structure their assets. When the market crashed in 2008, he quickly realized that since his biggest clients were real estate developers, there was a good chance that business was going to be slowing down.
It was around this time that one day, a friend walked into his office and told him that he was starting a sports league dedicated to mixed martial arts (MMA). The league was going to be called Hard Knocks Fighting, and his friend thought that Ari, being a former athlete, might be able to contribute in a significant way.
As Ari explains, “He told me what they were planning and talked me into agreeing to run an event. While I wasn’t initially sold on the idea, I agreed to help. We booked the venue and sold the tickets and matched the athletes up and had a party. It was really fun — way more fun than sitting behind a desk and practicing law.”
Once Ari had the first event under his belt, he made the decision that he’d invest in the business and start dedicating more time to the new venture. After a while, Ari found himself doing a bunch of work for the league while still maintaining his law office, and he soon realized it wasn’t sustainable to do both full time. Ari decided to take his existing staff and shift their roles to get them more involved with Hard Knocks Fighting.
A Small Idea With a Big Payoff
Like any new business, the budget was tight. Because they were trying to keep costs down, they cut corners where possible when running events. However, based on the feedback they received, Ari and his partners quickly realized that video was going to be necessary to keep the viewership of the events growing.
“We ran this event with no lights and no audio. We didn’t record video because I thought nobody would care, and it would just be more money wasted. At the time, I thought that it was pretty cool because we saved some money. I fundamentally didn’t believe in the need for video; but, then, a whole bunch of people pointed out that selling tickets was much harder than videoing something and broadcasting it. It took me a bit to get on board with that idea, but we started recording with a low budget.”
Despite those initial budget recordings of the events, in 2011, the team was presented with a huge opportunity to make a deal with ESPN to broadcast their events in 40 countries.
When that deal was on the table, Ari suddenly realized that he was now making a move into the TV business.
“We ran this event and recorded the video. I had it on a hard drive. And then ESPN cut me a check for the video I had on my hard drive. I didn’t have to work that hard to take that video copy and deliver it to ESPN. It was obviously a whole lot easier than actually filling the venue, selling tickets and putting the event on.”
It was with this new plan for creating videos that ETVN Media was born.
Finding New Revenue Streams
Once the ESPN deal was signed and they began regularly filming and broadcasting Hard Knocks Fighting events, Ari quickly realized there was a gap.
“When you watch live sports where there are multiple events over several days, you need something to fill in the time at the end of the match until the next one starts. Talking heads get boring after a while, so we needed more video. What better way to fill the time than tell the stories of some of the athletes?”
The ETVN team started making small videos that were 30-minute biographical documentaries featuring athletes telling their stories. These documentaries could then be used during the live events’ broadcasts and were the perfect way to give the fans the opportunity to connect with, and care about, the athletes.
Once they were regularly producing videos, more ideas began to percolate.
“We were running this sports league, recording the events and then making documentaries of the athletes. We were getting interest from other broadcasters, and what we began to realize was that they were actually looking for regular content. They didn’t want a one-off show, and they were interested in giving Hard Knocks a one-hour time slot every week. That meant we needed to be producing regular content.”
With this in mind, Ari realized that all the footage they were capturing at each event could be repurposed in a multitude of ways. Because they had created a revenue stream using their video, Ari began to wonder how they could do the same for other entrepreneurs. Video can be used forever, so if entrepreneurs could capitalize on that idea, they might be able to create another revenue stream.
“Every entrepreneur should have a video story. They should have it on TV as it gives them some extra credibility. They should be able to repurpose that story into a bunch of marketing pieces. So that’s what we started doing — making documentaries and TV shows for entrepreneurs. Then ETVN could take those documentaries plus all of the other really cool videos that everyone in the space is making and put it all together into a channel where people who are interested in what entrepreneurs are doing can watch it. It’s kind of like Netflix for entrepreneurs.”
Helping Entrepreneurs Take It to the Next Level
Now, with thousands of hours of their own content, ETVN is highly focused on how they can be of service to other entrepreneurs. They’ve launched their own fight channel as well as Battle Zone TV, a channel available through iOS and Android. Additionally, ETVN programming is available on Apple TV, Roku and Amazon, which adds additional credibility to the work Ari and his partners are doing.
Another big shift for ETVN came when they launched on Xumo, a streaming platform filled with short videos from a variety of content providers. It offers everything from sports to news to comedy to music and is available through a variety of smart TVs and Roku devices as well as iOS and Android apps.
“When you run a channel of your own, you have to drive people towards it, but Xumo is a game-changer. Because the content comes from existing providers with big viewership, like ESPN, the viewers are there already. This is such a fundamental shift, and I think many entrepreneurs don’t understand the potential. My solution enables an entrepreneur to create a video and put it on their own Facebook page or website but also put it on my channel, which gets a bunch of new eyeballs on it. The entrepreneur doesn’t have to do anything to grow that audience. They don’t have to do anything other than just use video they’ve already created.”
Even with so much going on at ETVN already, Ari has no plans of slowing down. With this innovative way for entrepreneurs to get their content seen by a bigger audience, he feels this market is just starting to take off.
“The cost of technology has gone down so much. It doesn’t cost very much to have a couple of cameras and a wireless mic or record the video. Every entrepreneur should have the technology to record video. Really, they should almost turn the camera on and never turn it off because we don’t know when what we say is going to be valuable. You can take video recorded five years ago, repurpose it and get exposure all over again.”
When I asked Ari to reflect back on his entrepreneurial journey over the past ten years and what insight he would share with those struggling to keep going with their business dreams, he shared these thoughts:
“If you look at my resume, it looks like I’ve had plenty of success. But to me, real success is sometimes losing as much as you’re winning. Yes, I’ve had success, but I’ve taken a ton of risks and had plenty of losses, and that’s what’s allowed me to ‘win’ more. You need perseverance. You’re going to make more mistakes than you ever thought possible, and that’s generally normal. It’s really all about just sticking to it. Pick something you’re passionate about, something you’re happy to struggle with, and just assume that it’s normal for you to fail at times.”