Amanda Eilian, Talk Market, Woman Entrepreneur
I was recently at a dinner that was put together by Victoria Song at Flybridge Capital. She invited entrepreneurs and angel investors. I rarely go to these things but for some reason Victoria sparked my interest. I ended up talking to a bunch of people including people I knew and new people that I was meeting for the first time that evening. Amanda Eilian was one of the new people and she just struck me as someone I wanted to continue talking with after we parted ways. And, so we did.
Amanda grew up in rural Vermont, really rural Vermont. She was always interested in media growing up and figured out how to get an internship at a local radio station at the young age of 14 creating a yard sale roundup. She would go on the radio to tell people about the sellers of tractors and live stock to match up with the buyers of their wares. In many ways with her latest company The Talk Market she has returned to her original roots. Also during high school Amanda campaigned for Bernie Sanders and spent a summer in his congressional offices. So it made sense that she left Vermont to attend the foreign service school at Georgetown University. In her junior year she was awarded a Truman Scholar as she believed she was commited to a career in government or something in public service. She started out with that idea.
Amanda interned in the media affairs department of the White House in college one summer. She spent her junior year abroad in Venezuela and Spain taking courses in economics during the time that Chavez was trying to get elected. An interesting time to be there. She had also spent a summer in NYC interning at Merrill Lynch. After graduating from Georgetown she went directly to NYC taking a job with Merrill Lynch as she decided finance was more up her alley than Government.
At Merrill Lynch where she began in mergers and acquisitions and ended up moving into the private equity division. She then left Merrill to work at Falcoln Head where she began analyzing commerce for their companies who were interested in expanding to online shopping distribution channels. While she was there she hired Matt Singer to do some freelance work for her, he happened to be married to her best friend. Matt had been selling products at QVC in the hundreds of thousands and understood the power of online commerce.
Then Amanda decided that as interesting as this was that she wanted to go to business school because she wanted to do something entrepreneurial. She attended Harvard Business School and graduated there in 2006. For her, what she learned there was invaluable. HBS was a place where you had to defend your ideas by discussing them daily. It wasn’t something she was comfortable doing. It forced her to speak comfortably about her views by putting her on the stand every day for two years. Amanda was given a Baker Scholar award when graduating which is given to the top 5% of the graduating class of HBS. Impressive.
After graduation she became one of the founding partners of Capital Acquisition. She worked on SPACS where you take a publically traded shell and convert it into another company through an acquisition. She led a $260 million offering by putting a team of people who were investing in mortgages together as a public vehicle. It was very successful and Citigroup underwrote the whole thing.
Amanda continued to talk with Matt as he is married to her best friend. They decided it was time to start a company and so they launched The Talk Market, aka Videolicious They understood the power of company likes QVC and HSN yet there wasn’t a way to create huge volumes of video for retailers. On a side note, years ago I sold to HSN and QVC. It was at the very beginnings when HSN, located in Clearwater, Florida just launched. The guy behind it literally sold some type of gadget out of the back of his car after announcing it on an ad on the local radio. Tons of people showed up to the parking lot where he was stationed and he sold out of every item and the idea for HSN was born. It was an incredible place. We’d get these huge orders and they would put it on the show and the items would sell out in minutes. Back to the story.
Their idea was that they wanted to create turn key solutions in video for retailers, large and small. They started out with 300 small retailers to understand the market and flush out what they had built. They realized they were on to something when they started cold calling large companies and they were ushered in the door immediately. These videos are created by each individual company and they tailor each of the products to the needs of their client. Recently they just launched their first mobile app with Martha Stewart and Conde Nast. Their product was working with the Fortune 500 companies that allowed them to quickly scale. They have made over ten and thousands of online video to date.
The real market that is of interest in helping everyone else in ecommerce be able to make video, aka the smaller companies. They have been scrappy, smart and lean. There was eight employees to date in the company. I love what Amanda is doing. To me, this is just touching the surface of what video is going to be able to do online in the years to come. Hence, that is why I am thrilled to be an investor in Videolicious.