Kevin Douglas (00:07):
Today on the Entrepreneurship@DU podcast,
Jon Niermann (00:11):
I wanted to be like CEO of Disney. I loved entertainment and was thinking about doing acting and comedy and decided to go the safer route of the corporate career. I definitely had ambitions. I always had high goals.
Kevin Douglas (00:26):
A longtime Disney executive shares the journey of leaving his corporate job and launching his own media company.
Jon Niermann (00:34):
We kept buying all these smaller companies and I thought, well, I want to be on the end of that. And I was always restless in the sense that I just knew I wouldn’t be satisfied just sitting in the same job, same office, same company.
Kevin Douglas (00:48):
Jon Niermann, the former president of Disney Asia, left the corporate world in pursuit of entrepreneurship in 2016. He co-founded Loop TV, a streaming service that provides free content for businesses. The company recently went public on the New York Stock Exchange. Today we are chatting with Jon Niermann, the CEO and co-founder of Loop TV. I’m Kevin Douglas and this is the Entrepreneurship@DU Podcast.
Welcome to the Entrepreneurship@DU podcast. Today we’re chatting with Jon Niermann, an entrepreneur with several years of experience in the entertainment and media industries. Jon Niermann graduated from the University of Denver with A BSBA in finance and marketing. He went on to accept a job at Disney as a sales and marketing rep. From there, he worked his way up the corporate ladder, eventually becoming the managing director and president of Walt Disney Asia. After Disney, he went on to work for Electronic Arts as president of their Asia division. Since then, Jon has left his corporate positions in pursuit of entrepreneurship. In 2010, he founded Far West Entertainment, an Asia based media company that received global distribution. After serving as CEO and executive producer for five years, he moved on to his next Venture Loop TV, a media company that provides free music and video content to businesses while generating revenue for Loop by displaying advertisements alongside their curated content. Jon, thanks so much for coming onto the podcast.
Jon Niermann (02:26):
Hey, Kevin, happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Kevin Douglas (02:29):
So I’d love to hear about your journey within Disney, coming right out of DU, how you accepted that position and what that journey was like moving up the corporate ladder.
Jon Niermann (02:40):
It’s funny. It was all about networking. I came from southern Illinois to go to the University of Denver, so I kind of got out of this small cow town and moved to the big city and had a great, great experience there. I joined a fraternity, Kappa Sigma (that existed at the time) and had some really good friends there. One of those friends who tried to be my pledge son, his dad was a head of Madison Square Garden Network, and I had always wanted to work at Disney. My family went to vacations, Walt Disney World, that typical stuff that you hear. So he happened to know the president at Disney World and basically he arranged to have an interview set up for me at Disneyland in Anaheim. So I remember driving 16 hours with a couple of friends to go out to Anaheim, have that interview before graduation, and fortunately things worked out well so I could graduate with my Mickey Mouse ears.
Kevin Douglas (03:35):
When you started out, did you have ambitions to be a corporate executive or did you just find yourself falling into these opportunities within the company?
Jon Niermann (03:44):
Oh no. I wanted to be like CEO of Disney. So yeah, I definitely had ambitions. I always had high goals and Walt Disney was kind of one of those guys that I read a lot about growing up, and I was just kind of mesmerized with what he did with theme parks. And so I loved entertainment. I had always been into entertainment and was thinking about doing acting and comedy and decided to go the safer route of the corporate career. At least for me, that’s what my mom said, become an accountant, like thank God I didn’t do that. But anyway, nothing against accountants, but it just wasn’t for me. So I definitely wanted to set my sights on a fun career and I thought entertainment. But yeah, I was very ambitious and always kind of looking at that next level of how I can level up.
Kevin Douglas (04:36):
When you eventually found yourself as president of Walt Disney Asia, can you talk about what that process was transitioning into a different culture? Had you been living, had you visited before Asia or Shanghai?
Jon Niermann (04:51):
No, I had never gone to Asia. I went to Europe once right out of high school. I was in the American Musical Ambassadors and we had a three week band tour, and that was super cool. So I kind of got a little bit of an international bug, and at Disney, like I said, I kind of went from sales rep. Then I went to manager of and I went to director of national accounts and manager of the PR thing, me, I’ll tell you a side story on that. That was super cool because it was in the nineties and they had reestablished the Mickey Mouse Club and at the Mickey Mouse Club at that time, I ran publicity and who were little, there was 12 year old Ryan Gosling, 12 year old, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Keri Russell. You talk about this amazing group of talent that Disney had a, they canceled the show.
Could you believe that? That’s absolutely nuts. And then they all went on to be obviously huge, but I was Mr. Niermann to them and I was like, late twenties, come on, dude, I’m not that old. But anyway, that was kind of my one year of pr. And then I went back into sales and marketing and eventually ran marketing for feature animation and from there was an opportunity to go to Asia and run television first. So I had a chance to go over there, and I remember going home to my wife and I talked to the head of HR at the time at Disney. He’s like, well, we don’t have anything in London, which is where most people want to go, but we’ve got this thing in Hong Kong, but I don’t know, do you really want to go to Hong Kong? So I went home, I talked to her and she said, yeah, we want to go to Hong Kong. So I was on a plane and I think three months later we moved. And anyway, best experience of my life worked out really well.
Kevin Douglas (06:45):
Do you have any stories or experience working with Bob Iger? I think most people recognize him as the Yeah, longtime CEO of Disney in the modern age.
Jon Niermann (06:55):
Yeah, I do. I was fortunate enough to work fairly closely with Bob, my boss at the time, well, I had several mentors at Disney F first. There was a guy named Charlie Newy when I started out, Charlie was the type of guy that was just fun and encouraging and hard, but basically was very supportive. And I had a very similar guy when I first went out to Disney Asia called Ed Bogarting who had been with the company for 24 years and really empowered me to succeed as he did his team. And then I moved to international and was reporting to a guy named Michael Jonson who ran Disney Home video. And Michael reported to Bob and Bob and Michael Eisner was also there at the time. And I got very, very lucky with my timing because about six months after I moved to Hong Kong, they announced a theme park was going to be built in Hong Kong.
So Disney really doubled down in Asia. So I don’t think I would’ve become president of a division in the US as quickly as I did in Asia, simply as good luck and timing. And so Bob really spearheaded that international growth for Disney. He was president of Disney at the time, and he had some very, very good just kind of looking around the corners of vision of what we could do more of internationally become that true global company. So I was fortunate enough to be because of running Asia, I was fortunate enough to be in that smaller circle of having these type of meetings. He’s a fantastic leader. If anyone hasn’t read his book, should I think it’s a fantastic, and he was very kind to me. He was very supportive of me. I will tell you one story though, I almost blew it. We were out to dinner in Hong Kong and Bob would go over there, he’d get his suits tailored and he’d bring ’em back and he was wearing this suit with this nice tie and a white shirt, and it was Michael, Bob and I, and I was so excited. I was telling some story and boom, threw my arms up and right across the glass of red wine that went right into Bob’s new suit. So I think he never forgot me as a result of that, which was always good. I think you might even remember it to this day. So the great thing about Bob is what I’ll always remember is he was just very, very supportive in terms of and letting people do their work.
Kevin Douglas (09:29):
That’s certainly one way to make a first impression.
Jon Niermann (09:32):
It’s a lasting one man. I don’t know if it was a good, it was shortly before I left Disney, so I don’t know if I was just afraid I may not be able to advance anymore after that or what, but certainly it was a fun memory.
Kevin Douglas (09:45):
Yeah, I’d love to hear a little more also about the development of the Shanghai Disneyland Park. How much involvement did you have with that?
Jon Niermann (09:54):
Yeah, it’s our latest park. Funny because Disney was structured into really two groups. It was theme park and then everything else. And there were about 77 divisions at the time, and I think we had maybe 30 represented in Asia. So I mean you didn’t have everything out there, sports and things like that that Disney was into, but we certainly had a majority of it, like tv, movies, et cetera. So I dealt with everything but theme parks. But because I was on the corporate side, I was in those initial Shanghai meetings. I remember we went to Shanghai and there were four of us from Disney and there were 27 on the Chinese side. And it was rather intimidating. It was almost like a storyline that you see from a movie where you got these row of suits across from you and all these cameras and it was wild. But that was the first discussion that we sat down about a serious discussion on how we move beyond Hong Kong and go into the mainland on Shanghai.
Kevin Douglas (11:02):
What do you think you learned from all that time with Disney that prepared you to then be an entrepreneur?
Jon Niermann (11:09):
To be myself, it’s one of those SIGs where I was never the smartest guy in the room, but I know, I think I brought something to the table that a lot of people appreciated. I always tried to approach work in a collaborative way saying I like to be lighthearted. I’ve always been lighthearted. I talked about comedy earlier. I was always wanted to be a talk show host, which we’ll get to because eventually happened. But I think it was just a matter of keeping people happy, keeping people excited, and really having an entrepreneurial mindset within a big company, if that makes sense. Disney was very supportive and I also was fortunate enough to have bosses that let me do their thing or my thing. Now, I did get some advice from a couple of bosses along the way that I don’t think was great advice, and it was sometimes you’re too nice is what they literally said. So it’s like, well, I don’t know if I’m wired that way and I don’t know if I want to manage that way. And I’ve had a boss like that who was horrible and I didn’t enjoy that. So there was one patch at Disney that I did have that for a couple years and it just was unpleasant. So no, I didn’t do that. I stuck with who I was and I think that was really important to be yourself.
Kevin Douglas (12:35):
Why did you ultimately decide to leave your corporate work and become a founder?
Jon Niermann (12:41):
It’s funny, there were a couple of reasons. So I left Disney to go to electronic Arts because at that time, this was right about the time Michael Eisner was getting forced out as CEO, and it wasn’t clear if Bob was going to become ceo e and Roy. Disney was leading the charge to really get rid of both of them, and it was a tumultuous time. And the stock fell from, I think, I don’t know, it was 40 something at the time, down to the teens. I had been approached by electronic arts and I had said no, because I didn’t want to leave Disney. I never imagined leaving Disney. And when all that was going on, I thought, well, maybe I should talk about this. I saw an article about electronic arts that said, is this the next Disney? And that was 2003. And I thought, well, okay, maybe that’s a sign.
So I took that leap and I went with that company. I’m glad I did because that was some great experience that I needed to really kind of run a p and l to help grow a business to launch new product lines like mobile gaming and online gaming and really diversified and solidified my business experience across Asia. So after I did that with electronic arts, it was kind of a similar time they were going through, they brought in a new c e, I had six bosses at seven years, stock had fallen down and there were a couple things. One, the stock was going down. I’m like, screw this, I’m going to go out and build my own company. And two was we kept buying all these smaller companies and I thought, well, I want to be on the end of that. How does that happen? How do you create something that one of these big companies actually wants to buy? And I was always restless at the sense that I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied just sitting in the same job, same office, same company since you only go around this globe once. So I wanted that type of experience to grow my own company. And I had always discussed with my wife idea after idea after idea, one of those type of guys, I probably had 30, 40 ideas. So I finally just decided, let’s see if we can make something work.
Kevin Douglas (14:49):
I think and many people who consider themselves entrepreneurs or innovators or whatever word they use, that feeling of having so many ideas and just narrowing it down to one to pick and focus on, that’s a very relatable feeling.
Jon Niermann (15:06):
And I think at some point you just have to, so many people, everybody has ideas. I mean some people that aren’t necessarily that you would call ambitious, that they’re happy just to do what they’re doing and that’s awesome, but they have ideas. So it really is a question of how often do you verbalize them? Unfortunately wasn’t known as the guys like, Hey, this would be cool. So it was just eventually I felt like I had to make good on it and I felt after 22 years of corporate and I had achieved some good success there that I had the ability to go out and give it a shot. And by this time I was 45, so I am not what you would call a young entrepreneur. It was, and it was way harder than I anticipated.
Kevin Douglas (15:53):
Well, let’s talk about that first idea or the idea you pursued after electronic arts, and that was Far West Entertainment, and how did that come about? What became of that company? And that’s definitely also talk about you finally got to be the talk show host you mentioned before.
Jon Niermann (16:10):
Well, that was it. So when we brought celebrities out to promote movies, et cetera, they didn’t have a late night talk show we’re so used to in the US and back in that day it was Jay Leno and David Letterman and I grew up with Jonny Carson, one of the Big Tonight Show guys, and he inspired so many people. So it was one of those things like, well, that would be fun to try. So on the side, while it was a running electronic arts shot, a pilot for a late night talk show using essentially the Letterman format, and I paid for it. It wasn’t that expensive and I didn’t want anyone to know about it, mean my wife knew about it and she was very supportive and I knew a couple of people in the TV industry and I said, can we get a sound stage and something to shoot this and scripted it, invited a few guests.
There was a song there called James Blunt. He was a singer as the song was, you’re Beautiful at the time. So we able to get him when he was in town and I just shot the pilot and we showed it to people at NBC and Fox out there and they said, you know what? This actually isn’t that bad. So for a year while I was doing electronic arts, I was doing a weekend talk show. So I tested and kicked the waters a little bit and just decided to do that. And that’s when I built Far West off of, I think Far West. The idea was kind of like a Simon Cow model where he was doing all these great things, a talent search and finding people and hosting. I wanted to do that for Asia. That was kind of the original concept of Far West.
Kevin Douglas (17:54):
So following that venture and then moving into what you’re doing now with Loop TV, where did the idea come from and how did you end up on the current business model? Where is there other iterations before this one?
Jon Niermann (18:09):
Well, it’s funny because it really came out of a failure of Far West. I had did the talk show for a few years and decided that we were going to now launch a talent search show, and I couldn’t really do both because we really didn’t have funding for both. Mean that was a big issue for us is I had never raised money before, so I was a bit naive to the process. I kind of thought, oh, here’s this former president of these companies, people will be lining up to invest, and we had 50 meetings and nobody lined up. So it’s just that type of an awakening. And I think it was a bit humbling obviously as well that this is way harder than you imagine that you’re going to be doing this. But by this stage I was committed and determine that we kind of had to make it work.
So we tried to launch a Pan-Asian girl group. So I was thinking like an Asian Spice Girls because there had never been an Asian singer popular in the US at the time. This was about 2010. So we went out and we found talent from China, Korea, Japan, India, the Philippines, put ’em together into super group and then we brought ’em to the US and they had, their first single was with Snoop Dogg and they opened for Justin Bieber and Quincy Jones produced him. And you would think, okay, that sounds successful. And we really never made any money. It was very, very hard to try to get a fan base to support a group like that. And I kind of then felt like I was in on this treadmill of, wow, we’ve got so much invested in this, we’ve got to make it work. And at one stage we were shooting a music video and a guy that I met that he owned a Burbank, California, and I didn’t realize at the time that 40% of YouTube views were music videos, how big that business was. And he is the guy, a guy named Sean Driscoll that said, we should do a business around music videos because that’s really a big thing. And because this kind of music performance side was just flailing a little bit for us, we started focusing on that music video business, which eventually turned into Luke.
Kevin Douglas (20:25):
I think it’s very heartening for me, and I’m sure anyone listening to hear about just how a failure can lead to the success and no matter what stage you are in your career, the fact you had so much corporate experience and these connections, but you still tried something that didn’t work in its first method and then eventually it became something that did work. I think a lot of, especially student entrepreneurs that we talk to and I work with here at du, they try something that doesn’t work and it’s easy to feel intimidated or frustrated by that, but knowing no matter what stage you are that can happen, I think is really great to hear.
Jon Niermann (21:04):
Yeah, good. It really is about taking that learning and again, the humility aspect of it. You just, it’s true about persistence. If you are not persistence, if you’re not tenacious, this is a tough road to hoe. You do have to have the thick skin, you do have to be able to get knocked down everything that you’ve already learned about and read about. I can’t tell you anything different other than it’s true is, I mean it really is. I think everybody always asks about the combination of luck versus idea versus persistence and it, it’s always the same. It’s always a combination, but truly the persistence aspect is a majority of it. I mean, you have to believe, you have to have the fortitude and you just got to keep going and don’t get demoralized as hard as it is, I still get demoralized. I still, we might have a deal that’s happening and you work on this deal for six months and it falls through and I know that deal will lead to something big and it doesn’t happen. It’s tough, but there’s another deal. And the same thing for the you entrepreneurs. If you want to do this, you just do it and you grind through it and you just stick with it.
Kevin Douglas (22:19):
Well, let’s talk about the very beginning of Loop as you decided this music video model would be the one to pursue. How did you from there, assemble the team that brought that to life? And that’s both the executive level people you brought on to lead the charge, but also as you started hiring out, what company culture were you trying to develop and what were you looking for in the people you were hiring to bring onto the team?
Jon Niermann (22:46):
Nobody likes working with people they don’t like. So how do you create a supportive, fun environment? You’re going to choose to come into this small company that’s not making any money right now. We have no idea if this is going to work, but we want to have a good time trying to make it happen. And you have to be passionate about it, willing to do that. So when I started developing this idea with Sean, the first person I went to was a guy named Liam McCallum who had built up our tech platform for electronic arts. And I explained the idea and said, I mean I could conceptualize, but I can’t do it. How do you actually build this? And Liam was just one of these brilliant product guys. He was younger, I think he was like 15 young years younger than me. So he was more in touch, so to speak, with that latest technology and building the app and et cetera.
So without Liam, we wouldn’t have a business today. And then I think there was another guy named Mark Reeling who we met, who owned a music video library that he had purchased from an old elevator music company called Mack. And it turns out to be one of the world’s largest music video libraries that exist beyond MTV and Vivo. That’s really about it, that Loop owns now. So Mark was willing to take his business, which was called screenplay, and discuss some sort of merger that eventually were, this was a Seeds for Loop. Then it just became about filling out the spots. I knew we needed somebody who understood monetization. I knew we needed more help on the growth side, the technical side. So it was about keeping a tight team. We’re never one of those companies that’s going to print up a t-shirt that says we have 500 employees.
If you could do it with about 70 to 80, which is where we are now, I envisioned a company of maybe a hundred or so. That’s a great way to do it. You want people that are empowered, that are having fun, that are feeling like they’re contributing, that have a clear goal on what they need to do that are allowed to express their creativity and ideas. We always encourage that. And the best ideas come from people that you wouldn’t expect it so often. So we’re very fortunate that I have that same core group of people that have worked with me from the beginning. There were maybe 3, 4, 5 of us, and then today those people still exist and we’ve just built out around them by adding some great talent that we were lacking to be able to get us to the stage that we are now as a public company.
Kevin Douglas (25:26):
So you’re based in Los Angeles, but majority of your team is remote, is that right?
Jon Niermann (25:31):
Yeah, we’ve been virtual pretty much the whole time. So the pandemic was a coincidence for us just in terms of virtual, it didn’t affect us and we are virtual today and we think that that’s talent attraction a vehicle because a lot, we found some great talent that are living in North Dakota or wherever you might not have a major corporation to pull from. So we’re happy with that and it works well
Kevin Douglas (25:58):
Working with people in different time zones who are spread out very far apart from each other. How do you still maintain the collaborative nature of this kind of work and what challenges have you found arising from the nature of that?
Jon Niermann (26:10):
Well, I think starting with the challenges, you do miss that kind of water cooler conversation. You do miss the kind of looking in the door to each other, going to lunch, sitting down. When we do have those meetings and our core management team gets together often monthly, if not quarterly. So sometimes between one to three times a month depending what’s going on. We get a lot out of those three days because you really can go through a lot. But we also are very good. We do quarterly town halls with the full company. We do monthly management meetings at a set time. I’m not really big on one-on-one type of set schedule. Cause I think people’s schedule is so burdensome and I think you overload it with meetings that you think you need to do. And a huge problem for companies is just over meeting and spending so much time internally as opposed to outwardly facing.
And I’m shocked about it. I know people that work at Amazon and some of these bigger companies, it seems like they spend 80% of their time on internal process. So for us it’s all about how are we connecting with our clients, how are we growing our distribution and just making sure that we keep lines of communication open. We don’t have any barriers. We’re a small company, anybody could talk to anybody. So we’re not stuck on hierarchy and people respect that. And as a result, I think we have a fantastic team with so many people that are overqualified to work at a small company loop that they could easily have a bigger job somewhere else, but they really, really believe in what they’re doing and enjoy it. They’re flexible with their schedule, so we make it work that way. It’s never been a problem for us where we feel like we’re not collaborating.
Kevin Douglas (28:01):
That’s another common thread that a lot of the people I’ve interviewed on this podcast, the idea of trying to change what a hierarchy looks like within a company. I think it’s very also exciting to hear with as many as 70 or 80 employees, which still small, relatively, but compared to many of the entrepreneurs I’ve talked to, that’s that’s very big. The fact it’s still very collaborative and the fact that people as individuals are still heard and valued. It’s just great to hear you can still maintain that even at the current scale.
Jon Niermann (28:33):
Yeah, it’s important. I mean, I think that people think a lot of things of what you’re supposed to do to be a company and just meetings can be a tremendous waste of time. It’s that in, I think what I’m trying to say is you’re just for the sake of meeting when you could just pick up the phone or drop an email or whatever and just kind of spontaneously get something done. Now having regular touch points is great, but don’t overthink the structure and people have to feel free to talk to each other.
Kevin Douglas (29:04):
It requires a lot of trust, but it does, I think empower confidence. Yeah,
Jon Niermann (29:09):
That’s part of the culture too. That’s where it’s our culture is when we did those, we get this best places to work type of awards. And to me that’s important. It might sound kind of cheesy and weird to people, but I like it when we have our little best places to work awards. I like it when the team is saying positive things and feels good about what they’re doing and our retention is very, very high. I mean, we’ve got just a handful of people I say that that have left or haven’t worked out, so we’ve been very fortunate that way. But we’ve found like-minded people. Our interview process is not ridiculous. It’s not like we go through tests and quizzes and 12 people. It really is the first thing we’re talking now, is this person going to be fun to work with? Are we going to enjoy this person? Are they a good person? Are they obnoxious? Do they seem like they’re going to be a pain in the butt? I don’t care how smart you are, I don’t care your pedigree. If you’re not going to be enjoyable to work with, then you’re just not going to pass through the door.
Kevin Douglas (30:20):
I want to circle back to you briefly touched on earlier Loop being traded publicly in the New York Stock Exchange. And I’d love to hear what that process was like going from private to public and was that the natural next progression for you for funding? And how did that all work out?
Jon Niermann (30:38):
So I’m going to give you the two minute synopsis loop kind of started in theory, probably those first conversations, 2013, 14, we didn’t incorporate until 16. Kind of took a little bit of time behind the scenes, raised a little bit of money, come together, and we did not use venture capital. That was an important thing for us. We felt that we had enough experience that we did not want to go the VC route. I had heard horrible things about VCs and tried to take control of your business, tried to take a majority of the stock, and then just leaning on you every day if they didn’t agree with your decisions. We wanted to have the flexibility to make our own decisions. And so we went out, we chose individuals, high net worth individuals, and through a series of networking, again, who do you know? You know, we probably again had a hundred meetings and ended up with two investors initially, and they put in a million dollars and then another million dollars and then another million dollars from their brother.
And this was a family in Tennessee. So we built the company that way. We didn’t go out and try to raise 50 million people would’ve laughed us out the door. So we knew we didn’t want to do that. But as a result, man, we probably almost failed half a dozen times a dozen times. I mean, there were times when we had to stop paying people. We couldn’t afford it, we couldn’t complete deals, and I was spending my time constantly going out there. So between 2016 and 18, a lot of that was going on. And again, I tell this story to go back to the whole thing about persistence and sticking with it, and it may not be easy, but you could get there. As we did more funding, one of the investors said, you should consider a path to going public. And I thought you had to be a Facebook.
I’m like, how could a tiny little company go public? And we initially it in 2020 via a reverse merger with a company on the O tc. So it wasn’t NASDAQ or it wasn’t the N Y S E and it was one of these over the counter trading things. But what I knew about that was it’s not high volume, it’s not high liquidity. We were willing to do it because it forced us to be audited. It forced us to be transparent. It forced us into a quarterly type of thinking that you had to get ready. I liken it like the minor leagues before you go up to the majors. And by the time last September came around and we were talking to NASDAQ and the N Y S E, our revenue had grown up six times from the previous year. So we were in a very good position, even though the market sucked last summer, it was a horrible market.
We were in good enough position to where we could go out and we chose the N Y S E to do that. And that was, boy, I tell you, that took about a year. It took about a year just to get through that process. It’s a very expensive process. So have, if you’re going to go on the NYC plan on spending a couple million dollars just for legal fees, for accounting, for all this stuff that you need to do, so you have to be in a position to do that. And then you just, you’re playing the quarterly game as it is from there. But it’s great for your shareholders, it’s great for visibility, it’s great for attracting new, and we’re just at the beginning of this journey and we’re super excited about what the road ahead is going to look like.
Kevin Douglas (34:10):
As you look towards the road ahead, how do you see Loop continuing to grow and change in this industry? And how are you hoping to stay ahead of the competition and continue building value for your shareholders?
Jon Niermann (34:25):
So think about it this way. So if you think back to when it was pre streaming, if you could imagine, especially all the younger people today, there was a thing before streamy, it was just cable and satellite. So if you kind of think back to 2007 ish when Netflix and Roku and all those guys were raising their heads, nobody knew of Hulu. Really, nobody. Pluto didn’t exist, don’t. All the companies you take for granted today didn’t exist. 100% of homes were cable satellite. By the time you get to 2015, a third of the people are streaming. Flash forward to today, 2023, a majority of the people are streaming and have cut the cord where Loop is focused, it’s bringing streaming TV to businesses. All of those big companies ignored that space. We are a small company, but we are one of the largest. There are two.
There’s another private company that are driving streaming for out of home. So if you kind of think about that transition in the consumer space, we want that to happen and we want to be that Roku for business. We want to be that Hulu for business, but we’re more like Roku because we’ve got our own hardware. You’re connected to the tv. We are connected TV for business, we’re digital out of home, we’re retail media. Those are kind of the buzzwords that people talk about today. So I envisioned Loop to be a company like that that was successful in the consumer space. We are going to become a market leader and continue to grow in the streaming for business space. And what’s different about it, I should tell you just so everybody understands, is the content itself. You don’t go to a bar, you’re not going to go down to Spanky’s or wherever and watch a movie or watch a TV show. You go to a bar to have fun. And we provide music videos. We’re the largest music video provider for businesses in the us. We also have short form entertainment like TikTok channel, GoPro Action Sports, just think of eye candy stuff. All the main consumer streaming companies don’t do that type of content. So that’s where Loop stands out and that’s where we’re different and we’re free so the businesses don’t have to pay for it.
Kevin Douglas (36:41):
The comparison to the other streaming services makes it very clear and also it seems very logical that the out of home streaming would go that direction. So it’ll be very exciting to continue following Loop and see where it goes in the future.
Jon Niermann (36:55):
Well good. Thank you. I’m glad you understand it because we’re using that for pitches all the time, so I’m glad it’s working.
Kevin Douglas (37:01):
As you reflect on your time as an entrepreneur, what do you think are the biggest lessons and takeaways that you’ve learned?
Jon Niermann (37:10):
Just kind of, first of all, decide if you’re going to do it. Be ready for that journey. But go in, don’t let it scare you. Just do it. Be persistent. Surround s self with support. I had some people around me kind of, it’s so funny, man, I tell you all the stories. When you have a senior exec card from Disney or Electronic Arts, pretty easy to get a meeting. You all of a sudden put far west on that card, 90% of those meetings go away. It’s true. So have some thick skin, be willing to be humble so it it’s going to happen for you. So I think that that persistence and not caring what other people think about what you’re doing and making sure you’re around positive support is really, really important. So for me, that’s what kept me going through all the dark times and the ups and downs.
Kevin Douglas (38:06):
If you could go back in time, visit your 25 year old self, what advice would you give him? I believe you were working with Disney at that point, so
Jon Niermann (38:17):
Yeah, that’s good. It’s promise your wife that you’re going to be a talk show host because then you got to make good on that might be 20 years later, but be careful what you say. So I think don’t, it’s funny, it’s that Billy Joel theme. Don’t go changing. So don’t go changing. I mean, seriously stay true to who you are. You’re on the right path. That entertainment is important to you. No job is out of your reach. I like that. Being naive in the sense of I can be CEO of that company. Why not? Somebody’s going to become CEO of that company. If you’re an artist, if you’re a performer, somebody’s going to earn that part, somebody’s going to do that. Why not you? So don’t, again, don’t let the naysayers don’t let and have a rosy outlook on life. Seriously. You go through it once, have a good time while you’re doing it. So that advice would be just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t go changing.
Kevin Douglas (39:14):
That’s great advice. I was actually listening to The Stranger as I was walking over to the
Jon Niermann (39:18):
Studio, so very well. There you go. Who knew, right?
Kevin Douglas (39:21):
Very serendipitous. We always wrap up our episodes with a couple rapid fire questions. So are you ready for your rapid fire questions?
Jon Niermann (39:30):
I’m ready, man. Fire away, Kevin.
Kevin Douglas (39:33):
Question number one is how do you define success?
Jon Niermann (39:38):
If you could look back and you’re happy with what you are doing and you feel like you’ve achieved your potential, that success,
Kevin Douglas (39:47):
Beautiful. You might be the first to actually keep it at one sentence.
Jon Niermann (39:51):
I follow rules really well, by the way. I learned that early on with teachers.
Kevin Douglas (39:55):
And final question is, what is the best or worst piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
Jon Niermann (40:03):
Best advice was, I think there’s a guy named Guillermo Gonzalez in Texas, and I worked with his Disney channel. He said, people are people and that’s it. So in other words, don’t be intimidated by if they’re bigger than you, if the title’s bigger, if they’re different culture, at the end of the day, people are people. We all want to be treated well. We all want to treat each other nicely and we all want to support each other. So thank you, Guillermo. People are people. That’s it.
Kevin Douglas (40:35):
That’s great. I think, yeah, in the business world, there’s sometimes a misconception that being as brutal as possible will lead to the success. And I think you’re absolutely right. People want to work with people, they can enjoy being around and they’re more enthusiastic to work for you and do good work if that’s the case.
Jon Niermann (40:53):
Yeah, I agree.
Kevin Douglas (40:55):
Well, Jon, this has been a pleasure chatting with you. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast and best of luck with everything in the future for you and Loop TV.
Jon Niermann (41:05):
Thank you Kevin, and I appreciate it. And same to you. Best of luck right there. Thank you so much.
Kevin Douglas (41:09):
The Entrepreneurship@DU podcast was recorded in Marjorie Reed Hall on the University of Denver campus. You can find us on Instagram at du Entrepreneur, on Twitter, at ducore entrepreneur, and on Facebook at Entrepreneurship@DU. Entrepreneurship@DU is part of the Daniels College of Business, which has its own podcast. By the way. Check out Voices of Experience available wherever you get your podcasts.