Viewster: The future’s free international TV

Name:

Kai Henniges

Role and company:

CEO and co-founder of Viewster – a leading Video-on-Demand service.

Employee numbers: 

40

Growth forecast for the next three years:

We want to double every year, and to help us do that we’ve just opened new offices in New York, London, Singapore and Adelaide.

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:

Viewster offers an expanding range of attractive films and TV shows to a young audience for free on the web at Viewster.com and on a wide range of devices. In over 25 markets and counting, advertisers can place their campaigns in a brand-safe, professional environment on Viewster.

What’s the big vision for your business:

Our vision is to become future’s Free TV internationally: One of the top destinations for film entertainment and a trusted partner for advertisers who are following younger viewers’ migration from TV to on-demand online video.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations:

98 per cent of our business is international, around 15 per cent of it in the UK, and we are well on our way to becoming a truly global business with a localised offering in all of our main markets.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:

One of my biggest frustrations has been trying to change the DNA of a leading media rights player, who did not share the same vision for how entertainment would be consumed in the future. This frustration led the founding of Viewster.

What makes you mad in business today?

We keep our word and expect the same of our partners in an old fashioned kind of way. On the rare occasion when we are let down it can be very maddening and feels like betrayal.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

Users are turning their backs on linear TV at an increasing pace. As this trend continues, we’re going to see some very big changes in how people want to be entertained, how entertainment is produced and monetised, and the way that advertisers target audiences who no longer follow the TV schedule.

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

When you are a young business and need money the most, it is hardest to find. As the business grows and you need it less, it’s more readily available. Nothing will change those dynamics. All that businesses can do is keep on persisting. There are some great investors out there, and those that I have worked with have provided us with great help and advice when we have needed it.

How would others describe your leadership style?

I’d like to think that I am seen as an enabler, giving my colleagues what they need to make the most of their potential, however I can also be impatient at times!

Your biggest personal extravagance?

Sneaking off to do sports when I spot a free hour.

You’ve got two minutes with the UK prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

Hailing from Switzerland, I have something of an outsider’s viewpoint on the UK, and I can only give praise for the work the government has done to create an ecosystem that encourages entrepreneurs with hands on courses at university, science spin outs, media hubs, mentorship and increased access to funding. I wish Switzerland would take note. To help more businesses get off the ground I would urge the prime minister to introduce more tax incentives for investors to lose their risk aversion and provide greater funding for early stage innovation.

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