The New York Enterprise Report just received its first round of funding in its 6-year history. The New York Enterprise Report is a magazine and informational resource for small businesses located in the greater New York City area.
Among the prominent investors in this round of funding is Norm Brodsky, legendary entrepreneur, including CitiStorage, and columnist for Inc. Magazine.
This news bucks the trend — coming in the midst of a recession and at a time when other publications are going out of business, or filing bankruptcy , or being put up for sale . I’ve known Rob Levin, the Publisher, for several years and caught up with him (and as you’ll see below, Norm Brodsky, too) for a quick interview. Here is what they had to say:
Q: Up to now you’ve been bootstrapping – it’s been quite a few years since you started, right? Why now? Why get funding at this point in your history? I mean, why not keep bootstrapping?
Rob Levin, Publisher: The biggest reason to get funding is because we need capital to grow. The New York Enterprise Report (NY Report) has been continuing to offer additional programs and resources since we launched in 2003, but to really grow and expand our impact in the market, we needed additional capital. While I have been bootstrapping for 6 years and don’t plan on stopping, the additional resources will help ensure that the NY Report continues to offer more high quality media services and events, which is what our brand is known for.
Q: Rob, where do you see the growth coming from? You are serving a defined geographical area, in which I assume there are a finite number of small businesses. How do you anticipate growing?
Rob Levin, Publisher: New York City is the largest small business market in the country and the world is always watching NYC. The number of small businesses is projected to grow as more people are leaving big companies. Within 3 years our circulation will nearly double to 50,000. Along with circulation growth is the complementary trend of more businesses that traditionally served larger businesses now want to serve small businesses.
We are the only media company that exclusively serves small businesses in the NYC area and accordingly are in a unique position to offer advertisers effective and efficient programs to reach small businesses. So we see plenty of room for growth by building our subscriber base, attracting and retaining more advertisers and event sponsors. At some point, we will expand into other markets.
Q: What is different about the New York Enterprise Report? What sets your publication apart?
Rob Levin, Publisher: There are a few things that set us apart from other media companies.
First, as stated above, we only serve one audience — the owners and decision makers of small and midsize businesses in the NYC tri-state area. So our clients (e.g., advertisers, event sponsors) know that nearly 100% of their marketing investments with NY Report is used to reach their target — no other media company comes close. Essentially, they are paying for access to this hard-to-reach audience.
Second, and the reason that we can reach this market so well, is that we are providing what small businesses need: expert advice. Our content is almost exclusively “how-to” articles written by experts who work with businesses every day. Our readers look to The New York Enterprise Report for ideas and solutions on how to grow their business now. That sole focus has lead to raving fans as readers… we get unsolicited testimonials from readers every week.
With that said, we also have a very strong viral audience with our magazine. Our readers read the issue and then pass it on to others.
Q: Why in the world would a seasoned entrepreneur like Norm Brodsky invest in a media company, at a time when even the biggest brands, such as the New York Times, are struggling? What made the New York Enterprise Report so compelling in this environment?
Rob Levin, Publisher: Norm saw The New York Enterprise Report grow from its first issue (as he was our first cover story subject). He knows our audience knows that our properties offer high quality information and contacts which yield results.
When I asked Norm, your question, he said, “Remember, I always look at things in a different way than most. Advertising, in the next 12 months or so, has only one way to go: up. The economy will result in less/weaker competition. Those that are well capitalized will not only survive but will be in a position to thrive. The New York Enterprise Report owns it audience and is in a great position to be the gateway for those who want to reach the hard-to-reach small business owner in the tri-state area.”
In regard to your point about the biggest media brands — media companies that are “more general” are the ones that are struggling. The ones that serve a specific audience, and serve it very well, like The New York Enterprise Report will thrive.
In 2006, at the first Small Business Awards, one of our advertisers said to me “Rob, you have built quite a community.” I didn’t really think much about that until a year or so later when I started to realize how powerful the brand and community has become. The biggest media companies in the world are now trying to create communities of their audience. We have done that since inception.
Q: How are your ad revenues holding up?
Rob Levin, Publisher: We grew over 30% in 2008. There is no question that 2009 is a challenging year for everyone and certainly the media business. That said, our pipeline is looking pretty good. We have sold out of online banners ads for the first half of the year and the Small Business Awards is on track to generate more sponsorship revenue in 2009 than ever.
As with every small business, we have the flexibility to create different vehicles for our client’s different needs. That kind of customization is creating great opportunities for us.
Q: How are you going to use the money you have raised?
Rob Levin, Publisher: The funds will be going to additional offerings for our readers which will create more opportunities for our advertisers. We will be building a new website which represents a huge opportunity for us. Our current website, which was built in 2003, is outdated. There is so much more that we can offer our readers… For example, online forums to share information is just one additional function. At the end of the day, we have created this community and now we will be able to foster the community online.
In addition, we are increasing our sales force.
Q: What can we expect to see with the New York Enterprise Report in the coming years?
Rob Levin, Publisher: As stated above we will be looking to add additional offerings (online, offline and at events) to ensure that NYER is serving the small business community with the most relevant content, information and resources as well as connecting our advertisers with our readers in many more ways.
Thank you Rob Levin, for giving insight into the New York Enterprise Report and its funding success during a recession. It is positive news for all small businesses located in the tri-state New York City area.