Set to re-launch in early 2013, Dreama.tv will be the new go-to venue for professional high-quality online video content covering inspirational stories of real people who do remarkable things. inventures.eu met with founder and CEO Manuel Gruber to learn how the idea for the online TV network and original web series came about.
Filmmaker, self-proclaimed social media addict, guitarist and free thinker, Manuel Gruber (28) is part of a growing community of media professionals who are taking the online video revolution to the next level. He founded his first company Visual Propaganda at 20, while studying at the Vienna University of Technology. His second company, viralvideo.at, came into existence only five years later. Both are still running.
Manuel Gruber, founder and CEO of dreama.tv
Meanwhile, he was also involved in bringing the first TEDx event to Austria, TEDxPannonia, and co-founded Dream Academia, a “dream incubator” and media platform. Despite his full workload, in 2011 Manuel found the time to take up a Master’s degree in journalism while completing his undergrad in media technology with a focus on TV production.
It was during this period that his interest in stories and the power of story-telling grew into somewhat of a fascination. Having started experimenting with audio-visual production already in his teens, his natural inclination was to think, “why not tell stories in video?” His current project, Dreama.tv and its blog off-shoot dailydreama.com, will focus on distributing curated non-fictional stories of individuals who set out to pursue their dreams and make a living out of doing something they love.
Target Audience? “Dreamers”
Based in Vienna, Manuel and his five-member team are set on bringing the work of a new generation of socially-conscious filmmakers to a web-savvy audience. From skateboarding subcultures in Mexico to the Detroit music scene, the six-series pilot program for Dreama.tv promises a diverse range of international content that showcases impressive talents and influential trendsetters from all walks of life.
The underlying vision? Providing real-life examples of people who do things differently, and giving viewers the self-confidence to think more about what they really want to do in life. “That’s one of the main reasons we founded Dreama.tv; to create a cool way of consuming content that makes you think about why you are doing what you are doing and how you can pursue your dream from when you were five, without going into the whole esoteric thing”, Manuel says.
Throw Away Your Television
Bored by the rise of increasingly uninspiring (“reality”) TV shows, Manuel sees an opportunity in catering to a more discerning audience. The first producers selected so far by the Dreama.tv team include UK filmmaker Andrew Hinton, winner of the 2012 Vimeo Documentary Award, and 2012 Webby Honoree Joe Harrison of the LA-based award-winning new media production company Painting in Pictures.
“People keep asking, ‘how’d you get this guy in Oklahoma or LA?’”, Manuel says when talking about his mode of approaching producers. “It’s literally a click away. Go on Vimeo, see their stuff, contact them – and an hour later you get an e-mail saying ‘Let’s Skype.’” The hope is that viewers will tune into Dreama.tv knowing that it is the place where they’ll get their daily dose of inspiration, no matter the form, and that as the project gains in scale it will reach an ever-broader audience.
The dreama.tv team: Tjandra Mayerhold (Interface Designer), Georg Csarmann (Content Director), Manuel Gruber (Founder & CEO), David Stöckl (Technical Mastermind), Philipp Klemm (CFO & Co-Founder), and Sandra Reichl (Art Director) (from left to right)Creating Meaning, Not Advertising
Tacked to the wall of Manuel’s sektor5 office space is a print-out of the words, “Stop advertising, create meaning”. Manuel’s vision of success emphasizes structuring one’s life in a way that makes it possible to create meaning and impact for ourselves and those around us. This philosophy extends to all professional projects.
The monetization strategy behind Dreama.tv is therefore based on engaging editorial content rather than traditional advertising such as banner ads and other forms of interruptive marketing. Instead, most featured episodes will be preluded by a five-second “Proudly Powered By” overlay.
The challenge will be in finding sponsors and partners who understand this type of contextual and experiential brand value, which has already been internalized by forward-looking innovators like Ray-Ban, Intel and – perhaps most notoriously – Red Bull. Not following standard TV industry practice, Dreama.tv will share its advertising revenues with producers, because the Dreama.tv crew sees the benefit of forging long-term relationships with its partners and building sustainable profit-sharing solutions.
Enabling a Better TV Experience
Compared to even five years ago, the ease of digital video production has greatly increased, mainly due to equipment being cheaper. As a result, it is easier than ever before to find visually appealing, independently-produced online content – which is what Dreama.tv sets out to do. As for how the concept differs from that generally offered by video-sharing sites, Manuel explains: “the problem with YouTube and Vimeo is that users think of them as search engines for videos and not as providers of a TV experience”.
Ranging from three to thirty minutes in length, episodes aired on Dreama.tv will respond both to the demand for higher quality as well as shorter attention spans. Regarding the general outlook of new media and the “democratization” of digital content, Manuel sees the future as clearly being in on-demand access via multiple devices. With this in mind, Manuel’s company secured a deal to create a smart TV app with Samsung in June 2011.
What’s Your Dream?
When asked about sources of inspiration and mentors, Manuel refers to his long-standing friendship with Harald Katzenschläger, self-termed “Dream Developer”, founder of Dream Academia and chief organizer of TedxPannonia – “the most dreaming guy in Austria”. He recounts how working with Harald for more than two years prompted him to think more deeply about what he wants to do in life, and how to go about it without bowing to external pressures – a sort of Dream-It-Yourself approach.
Manuel is also awed by the One Day on Earth project, and how its founder and TEDxVienna speaker Kyle Ruddick “just did it” – pulled it all off only three years after first having the idea. Incidentally, Kyle’s project alludes to what is perhaps one of the core strengths of the Dreama.tv concept in an increasingly saturated online content space: content is no longer king, but curation is.
As for the relatively small and underdeveloped startup scene in Austria, Manuel – a native of the province of Burgenland – is optimistic: “if you have a good idea, it doesn’t really matter where you are.”