A Detroit-based startup business that produces media content on startup businesses might seem geared to niche audiences, but that hasn't stopped Gary Bredow and Jenny Feterovich.
The pair's joint venture company, Start Up Television Project LLC, has been averaging more than 1.2 million viewers lately per episode of "Start Up," a TV series profiling entrepreneurs and their new businesses. The program returns for a third season in October on most PBS stations, the World Channel and the American Public Television-owned Create network.
Last week, Feterovich's Parliament Studios Inc. relocated from Clawson to Corktown in Detroit to share an expanded office space on Brooklyn Street with Bredow's production company, Big Bang Detroit LLC.
Both companies produce separate media content, including commercials, documentaries and automotive corporate media. But the two agree "Start Up" has become a "flagship" product for both of them, and can take up as much as four months per year in location shoots, post-production and editing.
The season premiere, which airs 1 p.m. Oct. 4 on Detroit Public Television WTVS-TV 56, will feature two startup companies, including Detroit-based salon business Social Club Grooming Co. owned by Sebastian Jackson.
Future season-three episodes, also airing Sundays, will feature Drought Detroit, the Plymouth-based juice company founded by five sisters in 2011; cleaning service Detroit Maid LLC, founded by Danielle Smith in 2013; Home Store LLC, owned by Bradley Cohen in Ferndale, andFowling Warehouse LLC, owned by Chris Hutt in Hamtramck.
Each season is 13 half-hour episodes profiling two businesses apiece, or 26 companies nationwide, although the first two seasons also had a strong contingent of Michigan startup companies.
Bredow, creator and host of Start Up, said he approached Fetterovich about collaborating on the show in 2012, and they pitched it as a local program at first, until Jeff Forster, Detroit Public Television executive vice president of productions, convinced them to repackage it as a national one.
Season one premiered in 2013. Sponsors for the upcoming season include FCA US LLC, North American Bancard LLC in Troy, and the Pure Michigan state tourism campaign. Companies featured are generally less than 5 years old, although Bredow said the show explores the struggles of businesses in various phases of development.
"We've done everything from companies in their third round of investment that have raised millions to grow, down to people working out of their garages," Bredow said.
Feterovich, co-producer and casting coordinator for "Start Up," said story leads have come from a mix of website submissions, blogs and business media in cities the crew will visit — even the U.S. Small Business Administration, for referrals on businesses that have benefited from its assistance.
"We have to turn down some really deserving people, with great ideas, but we try to focus on the best stories out there," she said.
Each year, the pair raises enough through sponsorship and distribution deals to cover a $500,000-per-season production budget. But the show's success has helped spur new business opportunities elsewhere.
Last year, another joint venture company, Legacy Production and Post LLC, launched "A Craftsman's Legacy" which they co-produce with show host Eric Gorges. The series, in which Gorges visits artisans and explores their trades, debuted on PBS last October and returns for a second season this fall.
Feterovich and Bredow also co-own Corktown gym Detroit Tough LLC with head trainer Roger Dyjak, which celebrated an opening in the Brooklyn Street building in early 2014, along withCorktown Creative, a multimedia production company that offers HD video and other services from the Corktown building.
This year, the pair looks to clear $1.2 million in revenue across all the businesses they co-own, and Bredow is also separately opening Fern and Dale's Salon in Ferndale with his wife, Rebecca.
"Start Up" is distributed nationally to more than 350 PBS member stations in 96 percent of U.S. markets through the National Educational Telecommunications Association, and to World Channel and lifestyle network Create as well as some international markets via American Public Television, the Boston-based syndicator of public TV programming.
Partha Nandi, a gastroenterologist and internal medicine practitioner at Troy Gastroenterology PC, said finding distribution and being a Southeast Michigan producer of national media content can be challenging. Nandi is also host of "Ask Dr. Nandi," an hourlong medical lifestyle talk show that airs on more than half a dozen networks including the Impact Network via Comcast and DISH Network.
Nandi said local content producers can be at a disadvantage with other programs based in television-rich markets where connections are easier to make — but it is still possible to find distributors and productions crews for good programs.
A fourth season of the "Start Up" show, now in production, will likely begin airing in late fall or early winter.
Fetterovich, a nightclub DJ since the late 1990s, said she first met Bredow when the latter was filming "High Tech Soul," a documentary on the roots of the techno music scene in Detroit released in 2006. She still does some work in the music scene, but considers herself a lifelong entrepreneur and was eager to take on "Start Up" when Bredow approached her three years ago.
Correction: Bredow and Feterovich co-produce "A Craftsman's Legacy," they do not co-own it.