Ashkan Karbasfrooshan – Building a Video Content Business in a World of Tech

Watchmojo is one of the top producers of original video content online. In February, 2011 they announced that they had surpassed 200,000,000 cumulative views and reached profitably with 75% growth in revenue. The company was started in 2006 by Ashkan Karbasfrooshan and now has 13 full-time staff. Ash has remained resilient and aggressive with Watchmojo and it would seem the company is definitely hitting its stride.

Ash is one of the most open and honest people I’ve ever spoken to for NextMontreal. He doesn’t pull many punches in this interview talking about his strategy behind Watchmojo, why he’s been successful, the failure of VCs in the video space and much more. He has an interesting take on co-founders and even the moniker, “Founder” and how it impacts other employees. This is by far one of my favourite interviews because of how much detail Ash provides, and the fact that he’s unafraid to share his opinion.

NextMontreal: What is Watchmojo, when did you start and how has it evolved since the beginning?

Ash: WatchMojo is a producer of premium videos. After my last company AskMen was acquired and integrated into News Corp./FOX/IGN, I had to start from scratch and due to a non-competition agreement, I could not start or join a men’s online magazine, so I thought of creating a catalog of evergreen, ad-friendly videos on a wide array of categories.

At the time in 2006, there was a lot of euphoria around social media and user-generated content (UGC). I felt that social media and UGC would be very disruptive in news and publishing but when it came to any ad-supported editorial media, marketers would seek professional content. People thought I was nuts in financing original video content creation, but now that content is growing in value and acquisitions are being announced every week (AOL acquiring 5min, Techcrunch and Huffington Post, Yahoo acquires Associated Content) the idea behind WatchMojo isn’t that crazy anymore.

It’s basically a cross between About.com and Wikipedia.org with the editorial tone of a consumer magazine, but all in video and all professionally-produced by an amazing team of producers, researchers, writers, videographers, hosts, editors in Montreal. We have a lean but productive team, pumping out 100 videos per month and nearly 7,000 all-time.

The main evolution came early on when we moved from a destination approach to a distribution one, when we realized that search engines did a poor job of indexing videos and consumers were developing the habit of watching videos on sites like YouTube.

Otherwise, we’ve actually stayed true to our core vision that content is king, but without distribution it’s akin to a tree that falls in the forest.

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