Digital Dealmakers

Sarah Szalavitz, CEO of 7 Robot


The player: Sarah Szalavitz, CEO of 7 Robot, a consulting company focused on new-media projects.

The play: 7 Robot works with companies, brands and media firms to help them develop the tools, communities and marketing strategies to tell their stories in new mediums, such as online video. That means 7 Robot helps its clients implement distribution, marketing and development strategies for online series and projects. That can include making deals with distributors and determining technical details like the optimum encoding rate for each platform. “We are a cross-platform storytelling company,” Ms. Szalavitz said. Her business partner is Damien Somerset.

The pitch: Ms. Szalavitz is the creator and producer of “ZapRoot,” a weekly Web series on green living that garners about 500,000 views for each episode, making it one of the most successful Web series on this topic. Ms. Szalavitz said she is using her strategies with “Zaproot” as a template for new clients at 7 Robot. “We teach clients how to build a community around the show, how to build a franchise around it. Anyone can do this by themselves, but we can do it better, faster and cheaper. It’s hard for people to negotiate for themselves and it’s hard to scale your projects. We do that.”

The numbers: Zaproot has earned more than 15 million views total. It’s available on every major video platform online and has seen a 1,000% increase in home-page views this year. The site has experienced a 2,800% bounce in community members this year, and has had 84% of its episodes featured on the home page of the sites on which the show resides. YouTube subscribers have grown 900% this year.

In the mix: Clients for 7 Robot include online video shops Generate and Next New Networks.

The backstory: Ms. Szalavitz started the company in July while she was working at Veoh Networks. She recently left Veoh and now is working full-time at 7 Robot.

The money guys: 7 Robot has not taken venture funding and is currently profitable. The company is paid on a retainer basis by clients.

The pros: Brands and marketers are starting to experiment with Web video and many need expert guidance to build an online presence effectively.

The cons: Being a middleman is a good bet during the early days of an industry, but over time middlemen often are phased out.

Background: Ms. Szalavitz was born and raised in Monroe, N.Y. She earned degrees from the University of Southern California, the London School of Economics and Harvard Law School. She worked as the director of content development at Veoh Networks. She is 33 and lives in Los Angeles.

Who knew? Ms. Szalavitz is actually blond.


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Comments (1)


Very cool. I'm glad zaproot is still going strong.

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