Accelerators / Brooklyn / Media / Social media

Dogfish to launch content strategy to boost its portfolio companies

Dogfish is an accelerator for content startups. Now it plans to build a media network, hoping to drive audience to its portfolio companies.

Dogfish team photo. Left to right: James Belfer, Diana McCorry, Sydney Siegel, Michelle Soffen, Matthew Smaglik and Michael Melamedoff. (Photo courtesy of Dogfish)

Dogfish (cool URL, by the way) is an accelerator now based in Bushwick, at Brooklyn Desks. It recently launched a new three-month program with companies whose work is being cultivated alongside mentors and advisors. Of the five companies in the new class, four are from New York City. All of them are content makers.

Now Dogfish itself is getting in on the content game. The company has begun work on its own content channel as a way to help build an audience for its portfolio companies.

Some of those companies make content on Vine, some do photography, some do YouTube. All of them are looking at expanding into multiple channels and finding sustainable ways to keep it going.

Dogfish takes an 8 percent stake in its portfolio companies and awards them $10,000 and access to its expertise over a three-month program. Michelle Soffen, the managing director, explained that she hopes to bring the business sense of a studio — such as thinking about audience in advance — to the indie world.

Dogfish’s current accelerator class includes:

  • Paul Gale Comedy
  • Simply Sylvio, an animated Vine series
  • Stories That Move, a children’s storytelling platform
  • Trollbooth, animated comedy
  • Tickled, a horror series

James Belfer, the company’s founder, points to CollegeHumor as a model of strong multichannel branding. It’s up on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other sites. It also hosts its own work natively so it can control revenue from views that occur directly on its site.

Most creators working in video online don’t have the luxury of using their own hosting, however. “The problem with a lot of these models is they are basically capitalizing on the fact that these YouTube creators have to just continually keep making content,” Belfer said. It takes so many views to be sustainable in terms of income, you can’t afford to ever stop churning it out.

Belfer hopes to build a following across Dogfish’s social media channels and its own sites such that it can share audience across portfolio companies, but also make it possible for those companies to distribute their content without any need to indicate its relationship to Dogfish.

Dogfish’s interest aligns with its companies, Belfer says, because as they increase in popularity, the value of their investment increases.

The company will lead with building up audience on its Instagram, Tumblr and We Heart It channels first, as it builds a backlog of more in-depth content. Then, its full channel goes live. The name and branding for this aspect of the venture is still under development.

Belfer wants to focus on the company’s niche, first. “I’d be happy if the neighborhood of Bushwick were really the only ones watching us at first, so long as the neighborhood was super pumped about it,” he said. He described the target Dogfish viewer as the millennial who likes edgier, more controversial content. Dogfish is currently a team of six.

Series: Brooklyn

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