Success has never really been a problem for Carbon Media Group. Maintaining that upward trajectory while still maintaining its focus on its core audience can be a bit more challenging.
The Bingham Farms-based startup coordinates advertising and creates content for basically all things outdoors that are online. The 8-year-old firm has enjoyed 25 percent growth over each of the last three years, pushing its annual revenue above $10 million. Carbon Media Group has hired a dozen people over the last years, putting its staff at 62 people.
It did all of this while just raising small multi-million-dollar Series A in 2010. It has no plans to raise any more seed capital any time soon.
“We have been profitable since 2010,” says Hyaat Chaudhary, CEO of Carbon Media Group. “We haven’t had a need for any more funding.”
That doesn’t happen by accident. Carbon Media Group has grown by evolving its business plan and audience. The company started out coordinating online advertising for websites that deal with outdoors activities, like hunting and camping. After a few years, Carbon Media Group evolved its services to include content creation for hundreds of websites and YouTube channels, including its own CarbonTVoutlet.
“In the past 4-5 years we have focused on our own content,” Chaudhary says. “We don’t want to just put adds on other people’s sites.”
Carbon Media Group also expanded its target audience. It went from just the outdoorsy types to people who work in agriculture and enjoy action sports like skiing. While these groups may seem to represent a wide variety of people, there is a common denominator.
“The over-arching theme is we represent the outdoors,” Chaudhary says. “Our customers are outdoor enthusiasts.” He adds, “That’s our sandbox. We don’t intend to go into any other vertical besides the outdoors.”
To put it simply is a farmer and an outdoors enthusiast are often the same person. The interests for people who like to go camping and go skiing are often much more closely aligned when it comes to their leisure time and interest.
“I don’t have a statistic but I would say the vast majority of farmers are hunters,” Chaudhary says.
Now that doesn’t mean that everything is interchangeable. Carbon Media Group’s broader audience may share a lot of the same interests, but its advertisers are often a little more particular. For instance, a company targeting people to sell farm equipment to often isn’t interest in focusing its message on cross country skiers.
“It’s very dependent on who we are talking to,” Chaudhary says. “John Deere is big on outdoors and agriculture, but not with action and adventure sports.”