With an increasing ideological and political divide in our country, it is rare to come across coverage that shows both sides of an argument. If you are getting sick of the biased and one-sided stories that algorithms are sending your way and need a refreshing perspective, check out The Perspective. The media brand is promoting open minded and complex discussion that builds bridges instead of burning them down. With recent polls showing this divide only growing wider, you owe yourself and your country the duty of broadening your own perspective.
AlleyWatch spoke with founder and CEO Daniel Ravner about the Startup and how they procured their first round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $550K in a Seed round from the Rimokh Trust – an Angel Investor.
Tell us about your product or service.
While the web was meant to broaden our horizons, the opposite has happened. Filter bubbles, a fragmented media landscape and the drive to personalization have all but insulated and polarized us. The Perspective is a website designed to open your mind by showing you what you‘re missing. It is specifically designed to make it easier to consider ideas that are different from your own.
What inspired you to start the company?
A growing feeling in myself, and many others around me, that we just “don’t get” the other side (of the country) and why they stand for the things that they do. There are growing divisive debates that become more polarizing as time goes on. Brexit and the 2016 election being major examples of this. Not ‘getting the other side’ , regardless of what side you are on, makes us afraid because people fear what they don’t know. It also makes us feel powerless because our protests thus far doesn’t seem to work. I wanted to dispel these feelings, and had different ideas how to do it, so came up with The Perspective brand and Media Company where we tackle these issues head-on.
How is it different?
We created The Perspective ‘features’ with the aim of circumventing people’s innate resistance to threatening views. To do so, we used design and psychological tenants as the basis from which we created the site.
We are not a journalistic outfit, but a media one. We offer a different mode of media consumption.
Also, we rely on specific repeatable content formats to 1. Ensure objectivity and 2. Make sure we live up to our mission of opening minds, as opposed to changing them.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Our primary target market is Gen Xers (US) However, The Perspective is based on general news content so there are a broad expansion possibilities, that will be pursued based on data that is now coming in.
What’s your business model?
We are starting as a website, so online advertising is basic, an industry I’m very familiar with. Ultimately The Perspective is a media brand that will encompass various products and business models, both online and offline, from books to TV formats.
How do you plan to compete with the crowded media industry?
To begin with, by creating a good product that lives up to its promise (it’s a different enough promise, at least the way we see it, so anything that emanates from it, should provide a different value.
We are staying cost effective and realistic, as we understand it takes some time to build a stable brand.
Marketing wise, we will be diligent in the conventional routes but in addition to employ some more surprising tactics that rely on our innate position at the heart of debates to attract attention.
What was the funding process like?
Before seeing investors for the first time, we launched a Beta version of one of the features (in June 2016). It was crude, but it worked. So, for the initial meetings we brought a concept and a proof of concept. We were happy to receive a positive response to what we were trying to do. I can’t say that the four months of due diligence and negotiations were easy, but there was trust and willingness to make it happen and so we did.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
It’s not easy raising money for Media startups these days. The main source of revenue for publishers, online advertising, is shrinking as the supply outweighs the demand. We had to show a diversified, sustainable plan going forward and answer many questions regarding “why we think we are the people who can pull this off” and how we plan to do it.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
There are two things that, I believe, that made a difference:
The first had to do with the timing. We pointed to a growing divide and targeted Filter Bubbles in early 2016. We had a beta going before the Brexit. So as the discussions with investors progressed, the pain we were trying to answer, became very evident. Concepts like filter bubbles that we had to explain in the first presentations, needed no explaining by the time we launched the site.
Also, I believe that The Perspective is very much an execution of our experience in marketing and content (I studied writing in NYC). The whole concept was organic to our origins. I think that appealed to our angel investor.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Our full product road map should be realized by then as we have currently launched three out of six features we plan on releasing.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
I love the lean startup spirit. I think the key is not to launch features that are not fully baked and develop further according to how the market reacts. I think the right approach to “lean” is to launch with much fewer features but making sure those you chose are working as they should.
The other thing is Proof of Concept. I think you can, more often than not, prove the need or your solution on a very small budget by being creative and using some favors (case in point: Dropbox, Zappos.)
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
As with any startup, there are more balls to juggle than hands, so once we establish the vision and month-to month goals, our job is to forget the grand future and focus really hard on making every day count.
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
Lilies – 13 E 17th St. The music is awesome enough to dance to, and I love the unassuming vibe.