A Personalized Approach to the Accelerator Model

Picking a movie or show to watch on Friday night is hard enough when you are by yourself. But add a friend or significant other into the mix and that task can become downright impossible. At MediaHound, we solve this specific problem with an app called Date Night that recommends movies for two people. That app is just one example of how everyone at our company is obsessed with finding that Cinderella-esque perfect fit for people when it comes to personalizing their entertainment experience. If you’re going to do something, do it right -- and do it better than everyone else.

Naturally, we are drawn to partnerships and alliances that share that mentality. The UpRamp Fiterator program (backed by CableLabs) stood out to us because they set out not to be just another accelerator, but to be the best - a deals-focused program that was personalized to each of the four companies in the cohort. Instead of burning through time with too many all-hands general sessions, the UpRamp team listened and gathered information early on to understand our businesses so they could fill our schedules with valuable, relevant, and actionable meetings appropriate for our stage and specific to our technology. Along the way, we learned from our potential customers and were able to rapidly refine our pitch.


Here are a few of the things we discovered:

 

Flexibility is Key

Partners use our media personalization platform, The Entertainment Graph, to solve discovery problems like the Date Night scenario I described above. This platform provides better recommendations that fit your complete taste profile and it also powers unique interactive features that adjust to your preferences in real time. Our API gives partners a pretty incredible amount of control, allowing them to build just about any idea they can come up with. Before the program, we would often bury our explanation of this unprecedented flexibility a few points down in our pitch because we figured it was a “nice to have” that would not drive as much value as our more immediate offering. In conversations with potential partners, we quickly found out that the fast and flexible development cycles our platform enables would save them significant amounts of time and money. Flexibility became one of our biggest differentiators.Fotolia_87492263_XS.jpg

Custom Measurements Matter

While you know a good product when you see one, some of the benefits of better, more personalized discovery UX are hard to quantify. Working with our UpRamp mentors, we were able to identify the specific real metrics that mattered to our customers and understand how to talk about them in realistic, applicable ways. For example, we started tracking the NPS score of our consumer products to measure user sentiment toward them in terms that made immediate sense to the product and marketing managers we were meeting with. This fresh approach to packaging up our proven advantages changed the way we broke down the short term and long term benefits of our technology for each partner.

Cable Brings Scale

We were excited to participate in the customized Fiterator program, but before we started it was easy for us to underestimate the opportunity the global cable business represents. This is a $500B industry that is the largest sector investor in the growth of the economy. Cable operators are uniquely collegial and collaborative, which means you can often sell to more than one of them if you are willing to customize the solution a bit and understand their unique goals. In some cases, one executive may even refer you to a friend at another cable company in a different state or region - in sales, positive word of mouth can be your greatest ally.

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There’s a variety of accelerators out there, each with it’s own perspective, process, and success rate. And just like picking the right movie, sometimes the sheer amount of choices alone can be daunting. When making that decision, it is crucial to choose a program that gets to know you before advising you, that customizes the experience with your needs and goals in mind, and that focuses from the start on helping you close the deal (or pick the right movie!).

Based on the results of both my company’s participation in UpRamp as well as my last few Friday nights, I can assure you that this strategy hasn’t failed me yet. photo-mh.jpeg

Addison McCaleb is the CEO of MediaHound, a recent graduate of the UpRamp Fiterator program. 

MediaHound is a technology startup in El Segundo, CA. They use native graph technology to solve the biggest problems in personalized search, discovery, and recommendations. They provide their flexible media personalization platform, The Entertainment Graph, to partners in the MSO, OTT, and OEM verticals.  

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