Patricia Handshiegel

Digital Dish covers the ins and outs of an Internet executive moving into the television arena. Disher Patricia Handschiegel is the founder of Stylediary.net, which she sold to Stylehive.com in November 2007. She has a background in Internet infrastructure and technology business, was an advisor to Kaboodle.com (sold to Hearst in 2007), and has contributed as an entertainment/media business writer for Venturebeat.com. She’s also been an early visionary of professional Internet TV content since 2005 and is currently an advisor on several entertainment/Internet projects. Always an entrepreneur, she had a highly profitable babysitting monopoly at 11, lent her writing skill to students at 17 and landed her first published national article at 23.

She has also worked as a ghost writer for a national TV correspondent. At 22, she was recognized nationally for promoting the growth of women’s hockey and advised companies on creating hockey products for women. She’s been quoted and profiled in dozens of media outlets since and is currently developing two book concepts. A serial entrepreneur, she plans to continue to build Internet, entertainment and media companies, with the goal of promoting social change and charities. She is currently involved in the use of technology to help find missing and abused children, and has contributed financially to TheJoyfulChild.org and other organizations. She is the founder of Look|Shop|List.com (in development).


Digital Dish

February 2009 Archives

Misinformation, Egos and Inexperience Making Adjustment to Web Harder

February 24, 2009 10:10 AM

Would you take business advice from somebody who has no real business background or experience? Probably not. But that’s exactly what hundreds of thousands of industries, companies and executives across the country are doing with relation to business and the Internet.

It’s the downside of new and disruptive technologies. It brings the best and the worst out of a market. It lowers the barrier of entry, opening the door for a flood of new people taking advantage of opportunity. The downside, unfortunately, is that it also creates a lot of noise for businesses to sift through.

It can become hard to qualify who to truly listen to and what advice to follow, often resulting in costly mistakes.

For the past year, the trend in business has been to create a “personal brand” and the Web makes it easier than ever. But a high level of exposure or visibility doesn’t always mean experience. In fact, in today’s market, it can often mean the opposite. Many who speak on panels or push for media/blog coverage are not necessarily doing so because they have viable experience and information to share. Media, bloggers and conference organizers often select contributors on the basis of their media presence or association with large companies versus real background and experience.

It can mean that you’re taking business advice from someone who has very little real experience in business.

There is little vetting in most online and traditional media outlets today. A major business television network had a guest on several times last year that had no previous business experience and wasn’t even employed. Last year, a big brand signed a deal with a well connected blogger only to find backlash and embarrassment. At a panel discussion including digital executives of many top companies last year, attendees were whispering about how the panelists seemed inexperienced in relation to the Web.

“He has no idea what he’s talking about,” is not what you want to hear about someone you’re paying a six figure salary to handle your online efforts.

I don’t blame people for being confused. The Internet is still relatively new. Those who are new to it will struggle. Even those with extensive experience can’t be 100% sure of what works. But for businesses of all types, it can mean problems that cannot only delay the ability to adapt their models to the Internet platform, but also trouble for the rest of us. I personally would be reluctant to work with anyone who doesn’t have a background dating to Web 1.0 (1998-2000) to present. I don’t care how much of an overnight success he or she has been.

A lot of the lessons of the past can solve problems today. If your team has less than three years of experience in the market, they’d have no way of knowing this.

It’s why I created my company 9 in 2008, and have decided to write a series of technical white papers about the internet as a platform and how businesses can adapt. While I have an extensive background in the industry dating to 2000, including in IP at the engineering level and all facets of consumer facing sites, I’m not going to tap my personal experience or knowledge, but that of people who have been building the backbone of the Web.

It’s because in the nine years I worked in this area of the industry, I’ve repeatedly found it to be the most useful and accurate in mapping out how to do business on the Web. For example, by having a sense of what the Web is designed to do, I knew in 2004 what would be happening today with Web TV, that user driven content would be difficult to monetize and that social networking alone would struggle with keeping mass audiences sticky–all very true in the present.

The white paper will discuss what the Web is, current problems and solutions for the future, starting with TV business. I will post a link here when it’s finished.

Is It (Not So) Hard to Get Something Made?

February 17, 2009 11:57 AM

Now that we have created the right formula for packaging our projects, things have been really great.

There are a lot of ways to go about creating something in the entertainment business, all depending on who you are and what you do. It took some time to find the strategy that makes the most sense for what we’re working on, and so far it’s been going OK enough since.

A lot of people are interested. That means very little to seeing something made, I know.

But it’s still a milestone for this relatively new creator-producer. As an entrepreneur, it’s one of the small markers along a journey and a sign that we are making progress.

From here, it’s anything goes. Yes is ultimate, but maybe is better than no is universal in business.

I know I say it a lot, but it is just so interesting how different the build is for something like this versus other business ideas, like an Internet or offline company. There is no beta, 1.0, etc., as you get with a piece of software or something online. You have to literally bullet-proof everything, end to end, before you even dream of doing anything with it.

It demands that you work both harder and smarter. It makes you really admire the people who are doing film because you can only imagine that it’s even more difficult.

I’m not just talking about seeing a hit but even getting past the first dozen gates. It seems that how you go about the idea is as important as the idea itself, as in any industry.

Does it mean that there are potentially near-failproof ways of packaging and presenting things? Can it be learned or, even better, mastered?

I know you must be silently thinking, “Patricia, you think too much.” But I’m really intrigued. If television is like a chess game, what are the smart moves to better your odds of success?

Wal-Mart Has the First Look at the Future of TV

February 9, 2009 11:45 AM

A lot of people talk about the future of television as if it’s a new forecast, but the convergence of the Internet and broadband has been baked into the Web’s plan since long before the first video appeared on the Web. Its wireless capabilities were always there, too. It’s just one of the many things the incredible Internet protocol (IP) platform can do.

Walmart End Cap TV

Was the first look at the new TV platform unveiled by a television giant? Was it ushered in by a major studio?

Not exactly. The first early view has turned up at none other than your local Wal-Mart store. The mass retailer’s new in-store TV display system taps the Internet platform in a way never seen before. Piped throughout its aisles, it serves up custom-created news and ad spots to its customers, complete with touchscreens that enable them to engage and interact.

Remember the scenes in “Minority Report,” where Tom Cruise was marketed to as he walked through various buildings?

It’s a bit like this, only less intrusive. While it may seem an in-store display is far from what our home TV systems will look like in the future, it really isn’t going to be much different. Flat panels feed us our favorite shows as they normally do now—but instead of the broadcast network supplying the content, it’s the Internet. DVR capabilities, customization tools and other ways to engage are baked right in—just touch the screen, or the remote, and you’re good to go. In the home, your IPTV experience won’t be quite as big and expansive, but you can imagine the possibilities.

Need to head out while still watching the big game? No issue. Just grab it and go on your handheld, which will support Internet TV content the same as your flat panel or that tiny tube in the kitchen or office.

I have to say it was pretty exciting to see. The future of television is about to become very cool!

Gaining Understanding and Feeling Encouraged

February 4, 2009 10:51 AM

I’ve definitely taken a crash course in the school of hard knocks with my move into entertainment this past year, but things are getting better. The industry is without question one of the most challenging I’ve worked in. Just as I feel I’ve got some element figured out, another five things crop up that I never even thought of.

Internet business is so incredibly easy. It’s almost nothing to start a site, and you don’t really have to work for traffic, since gaming page views and unique visitors can be very easily done. Ad networks handle the financing. All you need to do is show up.

TV business, on the other hand, is this gigantic cluster mess that you need to unravel.

I know that for most of TVWeek’s readers, it might not seem that way. But coming into the business from the outside, holy cow. It’s a little like I’m staring at the Matrix. It’s both terrifying and awesome. I’ve not sold a project yet, but you can bet I’m working on it. I think the progress has been pretty good, considering.

A year ago I was an Internet executive marveling at the term “leave behind” and Google-searching for info. Today I’ve got a pretty solid understanding of how the industry works and, more importantly, how to take your best shot at it. Once you start to get this kind of sense, it’s not so overwhelming. I’ve gotten to a point where I can talk shop about how to do things, share what works and what doesn’t.

I can say that I enjoy the work so much more now that I understand it. If nothing else, that’s progress.