Why you need to know him: Entrepreneurs have spent years promising viewers the chance to buy what they see on the sets of movies or TV shows. Mr. Fitzsimmons’ San Francisco-based company is now making it happen with a Web-based e-commerce system. Marketers couldn’t be happier.
|Mike Fitzsimmons is using e-commerce to connect consumers with products they see in the content of TV shows and movies.
Credentials: “I have been involved in the growth of technology and retail for my entire career,” said. Mr. Fitzsimmons founded Delivery Agent after his previous company, SomethingNow, was acquired by CNET. Prior to that he managed business development for Circuit City Stores and participated in several business ventures directly, specifically DIVX, which was a $300 million attempt to meld DVD and video-on-demand technologies.
Who are your clients? TV networks and studios including ABC, NBC, Bravo, SoapNet, Miramax Films, Dimension Films and Lions Gate Entertainment.
What exactly do you do for them? “We enable entertainment properties to connect their viewers with the products and services seen in their shows.” Through Delivery Agent’s proprietary video indexing process, any product can be located at any time in any scene. At the consumer level, the company’s Just Seen On platform enables viewers to search for and purchase products that they see on-screen using any interactive platform, including their computers, wireless handheld devices, interactive TV remote or telephone. The fledgling start-up company claims more than $1 million in sales so far.
People have talked about selling what a character wears or what appears on a TV show or movie set for a long time. Why has it taken so long to make it work? “To be quite candid, we didn’t exist until now. We are the first company to assume an end-to-end approach to solving this business challenge. It is truly a complex undertaking that requires the right technology and service and a clear understanding of the business objectives of all constituents. Each attempt we had seen go before us was a one-off fragmented trial or was too heavily dependent on a particular technology shift. It is also critical to understand that all constituents in our supply chain are becoming more sophisticated as it relates to evolving technologies. Consumers are more comfortable buying online. Brands are more comfortable selling online. Entertainment properties are building up increasing online fan bases. We are at the center of these growing segments.”
What are some challenges you think you still face in making this work? “Patience. This business is changing daily. By maintaining our focus on standards and by being pragmatic for today’s solutions, we will be able to continue to drive value for all of our partners. We will invest our resources wisely –- the right technology, the right entertainment properties. In addition, viewers need to know that shows are shop-able. We are aware that building consumer awareness is a challenge and will be rolling out a new direct marketing application in the next 90 days.”
Your company just got a $5.5 million infusion of venture capital. Can you talk about that and what your plans are for it going forward? “We will concentrate on three key areas. Technology development: We will be releasing version 2.0 of our platform in August. Business development: We will be adding 50 additional properties this year. And consumer marketing: We will be continuing to identify and invest in cost-effective consumer marketing plans.”
What types of products is Delivery Agent helping sell? “A wide range of categories. It varies dramatically by the content and demographic of the audience. Our assortment for Queer Eye looks very different from Sin City.”
What sells the best? “Apparel, fashion accessories and grooming products do very well.”
What doesn't? “Music is a hard category. Margins are tight, pricing is highly competitive and consumers have too many purchase options. We are adding additional download features that will help here.”
Was there ever a product that you saw on TV or in a movie and wanted to buy it but didn't know how? What was it? “One. Once you start watching entertainment knowing you can purchase, you begin to want everything. I do remember being very interested in Brad Pitt’s sunglasses in Ocean’s 11, which I finally got my hands on. I’m still trying to track down [Tom] Cruise’s suit from Collateral. And if you can get me a reservation on the island in Lost, I’ll go in a second.”
What do you do on your downtime? “Play basketball, golf and hang out with my wife and dog and advise other early-stage companies.”