This week’s podcast guest is Jesse London, CEO of TierOne Media, a startup which recently purchased 5 out of home companies in the Southeast United States. Jesse talks about why he became an entrepreneur and what it was like raising a high seven figures amount of debt and equity.
What made you want to become an out of home entrepreneur?
I always wanted to be in business for myself…I love outdoor. With all the experience I had at Clear Channel, OUTFRONT and before that at CBS Outdoor I worked with a lot of great people. I worked with good leaders. I’ve picked up over the years some best practices. And what I’m trying to do is to put it to work…If I can work harder and make more for myself and have more control over the business all that much better. I’ve reached the point where I really want to have more say in my destiny…
We bought in really good stable markets…For instance the Florida operation, which was K2, which is Pensacola and the emerald coast – Ft Walton and Destin – this area has first of all fantastic tourism. We’re not talking about get on a plane and fly here tourism…Solid tourism that really did not miss a beat this summer. There’s really an amazing military presence there, there’s a number of bases around the area which just brings a level of stability to the market…I think the South and the Southeast are really robust. Montgomery. We bought Mashburn Outdoor…extremely thriving economy. Really jumping. Tremendous retail. High end housing. Country clubs…Being that it’s the state capital there just seems to be a big buzz and a lot of business. And the third market, Mobile…we basically bought a lot of development there. The business is healthy. The market looks healthy. There’s a lot of activity. There’s a lot of opportunity for building. I come from New York. There’s no such thing as spacing that allows for more permits…
Metro Phoenix Bank is the bank in our space. They’re well known. Basically I just reached out and introduced myself to the bank. I spent some time with them. I worked with Rico at Metro Phoenix Bank for a couple of months. We would speak and I would bring him ideas and helped me think about the financial side of the deal…He came in with the President of the bank and we had lunch in Times Square. They were looking at something in Times Square…When the time came to ask for the loan it was sort of a quick meeting. Everything had been set in motion before we got in front of the loan committee.
At one point I looked at the money I was putting in and I looked at the money they were going to lend me and I called Rico and said “wait a minute, I’m coming up short.” And he said…”you got to find an equity partner.” And he suggested Ken Anderson. Ken was looking for an operator. Boy, I really hit it off with Ken on the first phone call…We’d spend an hour a day every day looking through the plan…His group is terrific. They were easy to work with…They complement the areas that I’m weak in…I know how to run billboards. I know how to build billboards. I know how to sell ads on billboards. But I was a little weak when it comes to putting together financial statements…and that’s where these guys come in…The other thing about DirectTech is I share their vision for the digital future. I have a big background in place based digital out of home…I believe in that business. These buys are reinventing that business…I think that once we have good billing and a good foundation with our big format we can start to develop some small format…