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eMedia Interactive launches online TV in Jamaica — Part II

Friday, February 03, 2012

HAVING raised US$350,000 via a private placement with Pan Caribbean Financial Services to fund its expansion and launch of online TV, eMedia Interactive has announced a stellar six-member board to guide its 25-year-old President and CEO Tyrone Wilson.

A three-and-half-year-old new media company that was able to secure such investment, without collateral, was bound to turn heads; as eMedia did again when it also revealed in Caribbean Business Report that Richard Byles, Sagicor Jamaica CEO and President, and Red Stripe chairman, had joined the company as chairman. He is joined on the board by: Wilson; PSOJ CEO Sandra Glasgow; Sagicor Group VP for Marketing Tanya Miller; NCB General Manager for Marketing, Sheree Martin; and Sagicor Group VP for Information Technology, Karen Vaz.

While new media has been a hard sell to the private sector in the past, eMedia had assiduously built closer ties since it published its first digital magazine, Your Money eZine, in 2008. Then operating under the name eZines Limited, the company sought not just to pursue blue chip companies as advertising clients but also to produce dedicated eZine titles for them. Those with their own eZines now range from financial institutions (NCB and Scotiabank) to the PSOJ to the Long Mountain Country Club.

"To an extent, when we first launched, it really was if we were speaking a different language; and definitely it was a challenge to prove that our products could be relevant. However, it was extremely helpful to have the mentorship and financial support of corporate executives Chris Williams, then Managing Director of NCB Capital Markets and now President and CEO of Proven Investments, and Sheree Martin — both of whom helped to build the foundation and ensure survival in the early days," said Wilson.

"We have had to work extremely hard with a small, young team but always paying attention to the latest trends in markets that are more developed in terms of their familiarity with the Internet. So while the timing is great to have secured the investment, and to be launching iVu, it hasn't been an overnight process."

The timing he speaks to is the warming of the private sector to online, where once there were bad memories of the dot com boom and bust years, boardroom discussions are increasingly taking place on the pressing need to stay competitive and earn returns by investing in websites, social media and mobile applications. Wilson is also want to point to the survey conducted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 2008 that showed that 55 per cent of Jamaicans are using the Internet.

Journalist Ross Sheil, project manager of when it re-launched and grew into the most trafficked Jamaican-based website, is now also a part of the nine-strong eMedia team based at UTech's Technology Innovation Centre (TIC). The company is now driving aggressively to launch and expand its existing content offerings, including developing TV content for iVu, such as a documentary entitled, '50 Years of Entrepreneurship', a new eZine called 'the wkndr' — a concept similar to overseas leisure guides such as Time Out and

Critical to the future of eMedia and iVu will be its partnership approach to the media business by working with content producers, whom it welcomed to a recent introductory session at JAMPRO. While iVu will develop its own content, it will have to set the "bar high on the quality of content", noted Better Mus Come Director Storm Saulter at the event.

Jamaica's Film Commissioner, Kim-Marie Spence, who hosted the event, said that iVu would augment attempts by JAMPRO and others to market Jamaican-produced content on the world stage.

"This is the era that we're in, a very Internet (and) social media-centric, digital era and it's just the logical next step for us to move to an online TV network," said Spence. "I know that the demand for content in other markets is there."