David Leider, CEO of Gas Station TV, grew up in the family business. So it should not surprise anyone that he felt his own entrepreneurial itch, even while building a career in marketing and advertising. In fact, it was his background in advertising that lead him to the realization that DVR’s and other entertainment options make commercials on television almost obsolete. He also noticed that people are typically bored while filling their gas tanks. [watch video]
Gas Station TV eventually became the concept that allowed him to scratch that entrepreneurial itch.
“Gas stations are really interesting and unique because people’s dwell time is about five minutes and during that five minutes, you’re bored. You have nothing to do,” he notes. “So we provide great content.”
As the company officially opened their headquarters in downtown Birmingham, Leider is excited to prove that Michigan has the talent to innovate and dominate a new television market.
“We are the only television network headquartered in Detroit,” stated the Oak Park native. “There’s a lot of great people here. Certainly the cost of operating is less than in New York or in LA, but the talent. This is a great place to do business.”
That talent has proven valuable as the company has vaulted over several challenges in their short four year history. Other companies have tried the concept of putting a television on top of a gas pump before. After perfecting the physical hardware needed at each gas station, GSTV innovated a system that allows messages to be tailored individual gas stations. This ability has allowed them to grow to over 5,000 gas stations in 32 states.
It has also led to a great opportunity for everyday people to get publicity for charitable events in their hometowns at no charge. They call it Neighborhood and it is GSTV’s first foray into original programming. Combined with efforts on both Twitter and Facebook, GSTV estimates that over $1 million in advertising has been donated since the inception of this program.
Another challenge is making sure all of the televisions are working across their entire network. Stuart Lyne, Gas Station TV lead engineer heads the team that has met that challenge head on. Since programming is delivered over the internet, his team works hard to make sure they are delivering the programming consumers expect.
“Unlike a traditional TV, nobody is going to be watching it and tell you something is wrong,” he says. “So we have to effectively watch those TV’s day in and day out 24 hours a day.”
So the next time you fill your gas tank and catch up on your local weather, just think of the dynamic team of people audacious enough to start a television network in Detroit. More proof that Michigan’s talent pool is deep and our entrepreneurs are tenacious.