Animal videos have secured a warm place in our hearts thanks to the internet. That cat video you can’t seem to look away from is engaging, compelling, and for a minute makes you forget about all else going on in the world. Animal videos are also a real business. The Dodo, founded by Izzie Lerer in 2014, is a digital media property strictly focused on animal content with a heavy focus on video content. The company is a part of the larger media holding company, Group Nine Media that was established in 2016 which also owns and operates Thrillist, NowThis, and Seeker. The Dodo has become the #2 media company in the US on Facebook by video views producing engaging social animal content that’ll make you both laugh and cry.
AlleyWatch spoke with the company’s president YuJung Kim about the origin of the company, its impressive growth, and future plans.
Tell us about The Dodo.
The Dodo is a digital media publisher focused on creating entertaining, emotionally compelling animal content.
How is The Dodo different?
As a publisher of animal content, we are unique in our dedication to telling stories that are both entertaining and mission-driven. And as the #2 media company in the U.S. on Facebook by video views and #1 for engagement globally, we are the only publisher to cover animals at such scale.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Our content is designed to appeal to a wide spectrum of people — from those who are obsessed with their pets to wildlife advocates, from avid fans who binge watch our videos to the casual viewer who simply appreciates content that makes them feel good about the world.
What is The Dodo business model?
Our primary business models are advertising and content licensing.
There was a lot of animal content on the Internet, but no one was really owning the space. So Izzie (founder and chief creative officer of The Dodo), saw a unique opportunity to launch the definitive destination for animal content, while tapping into the huge and growing passion point that is people’s love for animals.
How were you able to build your audience so quickly?
From day one, we’ve had a laser focus on going where our audience is — whether it’s Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram — and tailoring content specifically for that platform. We were one of the first publishers to adopt this strategy with video, and that went a long way toward building a large, high quality audience on each platform.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We are going deeper into longer form storytelling, through both linear programming (our first TV show, Dodo Heroes, is airing on Animal Planet in early 2018) and made-for-digital video series. We recently launched El Dodo, a dedicated Spanish-language channel on Facebook, and plan to further expand our non-English offering to our international audience. Finally, we are developing children’s programming — we are excited to reach the next generation of animal lovers!
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Prioritizing is harder than growing. Prioritizing can feel unsettling when you’re an early stage company because it often seems antithetical to growth. But what we’ve found at The Dodo is that prioritizing is critical to sustainable growth.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
It would be great to engage with the relevant government commissioners on how to make NYC a best-in-class example of a dog-friendly city — from kitting out offices to making public transportation more accessible to dog commuters.
Why did The Dodo launch in New York?
We have access to a robust network of advisors, partners, fellow publishers, and high quality talent in the city.
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
The bar at the Crosby Street Hotel — close to the office, great cocktails, and whimsical paintings of animals in the lobby!