Get to know: Lynnwood A. Bibbens, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ReachTV
Since Covid, the focus on Black and Brilliant individuals and businesses has increased, but it is still far from what it should be. In a new evolution of the Black and Brilliant Advocacy Network we spotlight individuals and businesses within our network we believe more people should get to know about… Get To Know Profiles…is an intimate interview series. We get (virtually) up close and personal to explore their path to self-confidence and success and the power of diversity in creativity and company success. Each profile includes imagery shot through their own lens. Get To Know Profiles present the compelling personalities behind the companies in a new or never seen light — one that illuminates their own journey, dreams, and desires while highlighting their uniqueness in the marketplace.
B&BAN: Can you, first of all, tell us a little bit about ReachTV and what it does?
LB: ReachTV is a streaming Entertainment TV network targeting Tastemakers on the go! We uniquely program our network; 6 shows per hour vs your traditional 1-2 shows per hour. With our distribution in over 90 Airports across the US & Canada and our recent launch into the UK, this allows us to give our audience a lean-back linear TV experience that is programmed for them. Pre-Covid we had over 75 Million outbound passengers per month through our terminals and now we’re on our way back with about 30M passengers projected over the next 30 days. We also believe that “content drives commerce” so being in the airports where over 2 Billion in revenue is generated on monthly basis was naturally where we deployed our network
B&BAN: What is your background, and how did that lead to you becoming an entrepreneur?
LB: I grew up in Middletown NJ specifically in a neighborhood known as Hillside. Everyone in our neighborhood was pretty tight and the bond extends through today. My grandfather owned a garbage company, My uncle owned a Seafood stand while maintaining a 9-5. I was taught early on that you can get anything you want in life but only if you’re willing to WORK for it. Also after my freshman year of college, I was looking for a summer job and started selling Cutco Knives. That was it! From that point on being an Entrepreneur was an obsession. Let me break down a little, my goal was to look for something that simplified what was in the market or was superior to everything in the market.
B&BAN: What inspired you to start ReachTV and what do you hope it accomplishes?
LB: ReachTV, I launched for two reasons; 1. I wanted creators to have a platform to their stories to their audience without the traditional red tape. With my background in Film & TV finance, I saw firsthand the obstacles they faced and the lack of ownership that resulted from these obstacles. 2. As an investor in Digital signage networks, I was trying to get the executives to understand that people are spending over 72% of their time away from their home, so we must entertain them not just run advertising. After many board calls and frustration, a good friend said to me “Why don’t you just do it?” And the next day, I started writing the business plan and within 30 days, I launched the company. With the goal to be the first network to launch focused on the Tastemaker audience of global travelers and to do so with short-form studio level content telling great stories. In addition, the goal was to be able to create a network with an audience at scale enabling us to showcase content from Producers and Creators who normally are shut out of traditional TV by industry gatekeepers.
B&BAN: What hurdles did you overcome to become a Black business leader and how did you do it?
LB: All Entrepreneurs have to overcome similar obstacles. Funding, customer acquisition, etc etc. The part that’s different for Black Entrepreneurs that I’ve seen is that we’re held to a higher standard to actually prove our business model whereas our counterparts are giving the benefit of the doubt. This leads to many Black Entrepreneurs being underfunded. As an investor and an Entrepreneur, if I had to choose one thing that hurts Black Entrepreneurs, it’s funding. Knowing this has made me a better leader and something I intently observe. In addition, I was able to overcome by having the previous success that allowed me to self-fund and great mentors/advisors who helped me build my business model so it reflected a proven plan.
B&BAN: What do you think makes ReachTV different from its competitors?
LB: We have the ability to program Nationally, by DMA, by Airport, by Terminal, by Screen. We also have the ability for our viewers to synch with what’s on the screen enabling them to take the content with them. And one other thing, OUR team, we’re just built differently. We live and breathe ReachTV. We’re obsessed with finding great stories that we know will resonate with our audience.
B&BAN: How do you keep ReachTV innovative and fresh?
LB: We have so many different partners from a content perspective and as we grow on a global scale, capturing culture helps us stay innovative. Also as a techy, we’re obsessed with finding the latest and greatest if it helps us connect better with our audience. As we refresh our brand again, we’re also re-launching into 1 million hotel rooms.
B&BAN: Where do you see your industry going over the next 5 years?
LB: I see our network and the entertainment industry, in general, consolidating into conglomerates or into niche entertainment at scale. Both are intriguing and both are necessary. In addition, branded entertainment and shoppable content will become the norm. Our belief is simple; Content drives Commerce.
B&BAN: What are the biggest risks you have taken in your career?
LB: Launching a .com in 1996 when people thought it was a fad
B&BAN: Where do you find your creative inspiration?
LB: My family. I find inspiration everyday. I find inspiration in simplifying things at scale.
B&BAN: You wear a lot of hats both professionally and personally, how do you balance all of these dimensions of your life?
LB: Working out and taking time for myself helps me balance things. Also, my family is driven as well so we help push each other on a daily basis. We’re also passionate sports fans so we have many things in life to keep us balanced. The last thing is we know life is short so we focus on enjoying it and each other.
B&BAN: What has been the biggest impact on your business – Covid-19 or Black Lives Matter?
LB: Covid-19 because our audience went from 74M to 3M in 2 weeks. Black Lives Matter has had a bigger impact on the country at large as they’re seeing things that we’ve told them about for years.
B&BAN: If you met a 10-year-old Lynnwood Bibbens today – what would you say to him and what advice would you give him if any?
LB: I would simply say remember this “This too shall pass”. Enjoy the people in your life and tell them you love them because tomorrow isn’t promised. Believe in yourself because you can do anything, anything…And it will be hard work…Enjoy the process…Enjoy your life and the people in it..