Thursday, June 18, 2009
Interview with Gregg Champion, OneCubicle
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Our interview today is with Santa Monica-based OneCubicle (www.onecubicle.com), a new startup we ran across recently, which is looking to provide a more professional social networking site for younger people. We caught up with the firm's CEO, Gregg Champion--who formerly was Vice President of Programming and Development at Mania TV--to learn more about the company, its business, as well as its fundraising plans.
What is Onecubicle?
Gregg Champion: OneCubicle.com is a social business network for people on their first, second, and third jobs. It's a place where 20-somethings can brand professionally with a profile, similar to Facebook or MySpace, but in a professional manner. You can also use the service to network to your next job. OneCubicle helps you build a career, through a jobs page, jobs listings, career advice, micro transactions for resume help, and an upcoming celebrity mentor feature. In short, we want to be the bridge between Facebook and LinkedIn. We feel that Facebook does a fantastic job with branding people personally, and LinkedIn does a great job for senior professionals, but there isn't a site for young professionals and 20-somethings. Our demographic is the 22 to 32 year old.
Why did you decide to start yet another social networking site?
Gregg Champion: I was on my LinkedIn page, and happened to also be watching episodes of The Office. I had that moment--my PB&J sandwich moment--and though, if you could take the business model of LinkedIn, and combine it with the fun, day-to-day life of the TV show The Office, 20-somethings would buy into it. There's nothing out there that connects social networking with business for them. There are plenty of job posting sites and career sites, but no social network wrapped around jobs and careers advice. That was the jumping off point for OneCubicle a little over 18 months ago, when we started writing the business plan and code.
Talk a bit about your previous experience?
Gregg Champion: I had been a vice president of development at ManiaTV, a Gen-Y content site. I'd also been a television producer on many sports and entertainment shows, including NBC and Fox Sports. I recently opened up a company, Champion Media, providing entertainment branding, marketing, and public relations for Gen Y brands. I had been speaking on college campuses, and when I asked if anyone was on Facebook, all of the hands went up. When I asked if anyone used Facebook for jobs or careers, every hand went down. There is a disconnect, in terms of using Facebook and how they're making that transition branding personally to branding professionally.
How are your two companies connected?
Gregg Champion: They're two different companies. We do share resources, in terms of if someone needs web help at Champion, we might borrow guys from the web, or if we need something for video, we'll go over to the video folks at Champion. So, we do share resources, but we operate as two different companies and staffs. Some people say I'm crazy to have two companies going, but what am I supposed to do, say no? It's not in my make up. I want to take both opportunities and see how far I can go with them.
It looks like you're one of the few folks who has had had lots of experience at the intersection of entertainment and technology?
Gregg Champion: I can tell you my first project in the technology and entertainment world. It was Pop.com, back in 1999, 2000 . It was funded by David Geffen, Steven Spielberg, Paul Allen, and some other really big names. I think they were ahead of their time, before broadband users and all that, but it really did give me insight into where content is moving to, and where users are moving to. Around 2000, I decided I had to stop focusing on TV and start getting onto the web. In 2004, when the opportunity to do ManiaTV came around, it really gave me the best of both worlds. I had one foot in the technology world, going through an online TV network--and at the same time, brought the foundation of TV content to the web. What I feel like now, in 2009, is that to be an entrepreneur who dabbles both in entertainment and technology, you need to be able to talk tech, and talk entertainment, and be pretty well versed in both languages. The strongest executives I can identify can both talk entertainment and at a high level with a CTO, and know code and other things.
How are you backed?
Gregg Champion: We're a traditional startup. We're financed through friends and family, and some angel investment early on. We're now building a web site, and believe that base will become attractive to a Series A investor or private equity firm. We're looking at what web sites have been successful in the past five or six years, trying to learn from their mistakes, and follow the tried and true rules of financing. We recently started looking for a Series A, seeking $4.0M, but after talking with both Silicon Valley and Southern California VCs have dropped back to looking for $1 to $4.0M. We're going lean and mean, and hope to operate over the next 1 or two years with 1-2 million in investment.