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

April 2009 Archives

Networks Strike Back

April 30, 2009 12:15 PM

The Internet hasn’t just disrupted the media and entertainment businesses, but countless other industries as well, such as travel, manufacturing, retail and advertising.

As this has happened, every single one of these categories has had to adapt and adjust. It’s not been just within their own processes and efforts, but in moving their customers along as well. It’s been going on since the late 1990s, when the proliferation of the consumer Internet came about.

The Web is a lot older than this, of course, but it was the dawn of many new things (AOL, etc.) that moved the masses forward. It’s been at it ever since.

In my opinion, yesterday’s MySpace is today’s Twitter and tomorrow’s who knows what. It’s why companies that focus on processes —versus platforms—catch the type of attention they do. It’s not where you do it or what online, but how.

Compared with the other industries that have been shaken up by the Web, entertainment executives are faring pretty well. The moves being made aren’t always the wisest, most logical or most successful, but the important thing is that moves are being made. It ranges in all aspects of the process, not just content or creation, but marketing, monetizing and other elements as well.

The good news is that the industry continues to keep adapting better and better as things move along.

Online series “The Phone,” produced by Fremantle, MTV and Justin Timberlake, has such an online following that it’s been said 40,000 people signed up for its Facebook page in a week. NBC is experimenting with all kinds of interesting ideas with its TV shows as well, like ancillary content intended to drive users back and forth between the two (Web and TV) platforms. I realize “The Motherhood” was canned pretty quickly, but I don’t think it’ll be the last time we see a show developed from ideas on the Web.

It’s good stuff. I think the approach networks need to take is just this: Find what works for you, for your audience, and build it out from there.

TV and Me: Adjusting to the Barrier

April 17, 2009 11:10 AM

A few weeks ago, I was laughing about some of my early efforts to create TV and Web TV projects, and the long, crazy course that followed in the few years I explored the business. I thought it’d be kind of cool to look back on it a bit, so my next few blog posts will do just that.

Let me just tell you. On the surface it seems like television is an easy business. You would just assume that an idea that seems great or interesting could be a show, and that to get it on TV you just have to tell someone. If they like it, they’ll take it. That’s that.

Anybody reading this knows otherwise.

I have never worked as hard as I have trying to make Web and eventually broadcast TV projects. It isn’t just because I was new to the business. Web TV was difficult because it was new to everyone. Broadcast, on the other hand, has the most brutal barrier of entry ever. It was quite a culture shock for someone who comes from an environment like the Web, where the barrier of entry is drastically less.

Of course, over time everything gets easier. You find the smoother processes and adjust to the conditions.

I am still in utter awe of it. I am not joking when I say that creating something like Facebook is nothing compared to creating something like this. I am not talking about running Facebook, monetizing it, etc. But in terms of putting something together, the difference between a Web site project and a TV project is literally like bunny hill versus Olympics.

For a really long time I suffered from the adjustment. It was exasperating. I seriously think it ages people.

Of course you stick it out. There’s always money and time invested in any project, and as an entrepreneur you want to see it to an outcome, regardless of what it is. I still struggle with the rigorous endurance required, but I’m much more in TV business shape now. I’m thankful.

I don’t know why it was so hard to adjust to the climate difference between it and the Internet industry, but it certainly was. Media business is far easier, even. It’s almost possible for anyone to walk into a network and appear on camera as a guest these days. I’ve seen it.

But television is very different. I realize now it’s streamlined for those who do it often, and you get a knack for the process, who is doing what, etc. However, it was quite a change from what I was used to.

This past year was the hardest, but without a doubt one of my first lessons in TV business was a hard (and funny) one. I will post it next week.

TV and Me: The Early Days

April 9, 2009 1:35 PM

A few weeks ago, I was laughing about some of my early efforts to create TV and web TV projects, and just the long, crazy course that followed in the few years I explored the business. I thought it’d be kind of cool to look back on it a bit so the next few DD posts will do just that.

I first started wanting to make episodic/professional Web TV content in 2005, right as the MySpace boom was happening and everybody was talking about user-driven content. Having a background in Internet protocol at the engineering level, I knew back then that broadcast and broadband would start to merge together, and that user-driven content would be hard to monetize. Professionally created content would be better.

I wanted to create a docu-reality style weekly Web TV show on my then-site Stylediary.net that went into people’s closets, gushed over their amazing stuff, talked about their look, etc., professional format, editing, etc.

Most of all, I wanted to make an example of how Web TV could be created and distributed. I’m an entrepreneur because I love to try to create ideas and concepts that parlay into theories and trends. The thought was that we’d shoot the series on regular consumer video cameras, have it professionally edited, five minutes in length–just like a regular show, only smaller. Then, put out once a week with marketing.

I wanted it to capture a real, “you are here” moment, and also, try to encourage people to record similar videos of their own closets to engage the audience.

After all, that’s what community is all about, finding ways to tap the interest, creativity and interactivity of members. I know I loved walking into my friends’ closets and going bananas over their shoes!

Our focus had to be on Stylediary’s core business at that time (editorial/content, community), but as I could I experimented and explored the various ways to make Web TV. At the time, it was hard to find producers, etc. on the entertainment side that didn’t push for a full blown production, and I couldn’t find anyone on the Internet side that could scale up to what we wanted to accomplish.

It was as if entertainment business couldn’t shrink to make a simple web show, and Internet business couldn’t expand to make something that looked more like TV.

And trust me, I had no idea of what exactly would work either. But, I didn’t mind. It was early for Web TV and I enjoyed trying to learn the process. Believe me, the lessons I learned back then were priceless! After months of trying unsuccessfully to find someone who’d just edit whatever footage we shot, I finally gave in on taping as a full production. Lights, makeup, everything. In the end, I didn’t like it. It wasn’t what I envisioned, it wasn’t what I thought would work or even what I had described.

Little did I know, this would continue on repeatedly in my creator efforts until just a few months ago, when I finally realized the right answer. In between were a few hard lessons.

By mid-2006, however, I caught sight of another, larger possibility and with that, my efforts toward Web TV shifted. I no longer wanted to produce Web shows. I wanted broadcast.

Next week, I’ll continue the rest of story. Stay tuned for what happened next!

I Like It Better!

April 1, 2009 3:47 PM

Let me just say this: TV business is very difficult!

It’s not like Internet business, where a Word Press pro blog can be turned into a red-hot digital property or shooting a Web show can take nothing more than you holding a camera.

No, TV business is this crazy, nebulous, sort of dark water that you wade through slowly while avoiding sharks and other sea creatures.

I am not sure how others come up in the market or learn the ropes, but my journey on this has been challenging, to say the least.

Not long ago at dinner, an exec at a major online distribution platform said that Digital Dish seemed “dark” for a while there.

I want to hide when I learned it was that obvious! But, as someone once said to me (and as has been since repeated many times since), creating a television show is a lot like pushing a rock up a hill, and the rock gets bigger and bigger the higher you get.

I spent the first five months in the industry relying on the traditional way of doing business. About three months ago, I made a switch. Since then, I have personally met with every network I’ve wanted to but three. Some have invited us back to give them a first look at anything new we’re working on, and my company 9 has just taken on its first show to be packaged.

I feel a lot better.

It hasn’t stemmed solely from my efforts of course! Anybody in TV will be the first to say it takes a village. But what I have found was the right combination for myself, a creator. It includes co-creators and production partners with the same kind of work style and energy that I have, alliances in the industry that let me ask questions and, most of all, an understanding of the formula that works best for what I do in the market.

That’s not to say that some of this stuff wasn’t in place all along. It just took me time to find the right fit for doing things. Now that I’m here, it feels like a normal, everyday type of business.

It’s still a challenge! But things seem to flow and work much better.

The concepts I’ve co-created are garnering real interest. I know that the chance of selling one of these first few ideas is slim, but I don’t mind. Part of the work you do as an entrepreneur is building your offerings in the market. I feel at long last content for the first time in a year.

Have I finally found a happy place and where I belong in the business? I hope so.

It’s still hard work, without question. We have gotten every meeting in the industry ourselves and it has meant quite a bit of work. Though we know a few agents and have asked for advice here and there, we haven’t reached out or engaged with any firms for representation yet.

Sometimes people ask me how we were able to get in the door of so many places without this. The answer is kind of funny but true: We simply asked.

Fingers crossed that things continue to move along. You’re a tough cookie, Hollywood, but I think I’m once again smitten!