The greater Washington area may seem like an odd choice to launch a media business, but D.C. has opportunities and a proven track record that go against the common narrative.
Michael Avon, CEO and Founder of ICX Media, told What’s Working in Washington that while D.C. is “probably not the obvious place to do a media-related startup,” the area holds some unique, untapped benefits.
After spending time living in cities known for their media production such as San Francisco and New York, Avon moved back to his hometown of D.C. “I just found a great workforce here. There are great technologists, great businesspeople, there are really good data scientists here,” he said.
“Some come out of government and out of government contracting, but more and more, we’ve been building up a really good technology community here,” Avon said. “Though we’re not New York or L.A., this is still a substantial media town,” he said.
Avon has been able to find media talent in the D.C. area thanks to the companies already present. “You have businesses like Discovery and [National Geographic], and obviously the Washington Post and a number of others,” he said. “It’s sometimes exciting to be a bit of the underdog, being from the city that isn’t the obvious city to build a media technology company.”
ICX Media specializes in distributing and monetizing media content. “We’re taking a very different approach to video. We describe what we’re doing as ‘Moneyball for content’,” Avon said, referring to the 2011 film built on the concept that the business model for major league baseball is all wrong.
“We’re using analytics and data science to help individual video creators, media companies, and brands be more efficient and more effective” in distributing, marketing, and monetizing videos, he said.
ICX Media assists in making content production decisions, “based on looking at what consumers are actually watching, engaging with, what advertisers are paying to sponsor, what consumers are subscribing to watch,” Avon said. Using math and research adds a level of science to an industry that has long been “a thumb-in-the-wind, intuition type of business.”
“We’re not looking to game the system. We’re looking to find audiences that might be interested in specific content, get that content in front of them, and give them an opportunity to watch it,” said Avon.
ICX has also worked on pulling talent from other regions to work in Washington.
“D.C.’s actually been a good recruiting tool. People find this a livable city, and a very interesting city to build a business in,” he said.