Media Vets Start 'BRaVe' Advisory Firm

A trio of media and marketing veterans has formed a new firm to advise big media brands on digital and social media strategy, as well as to invest in and incubate promising technology start-ups. 

Behind the new outfit, BRaVe Ventures, are Vayner Media founder Gary Vanerychuk, Jesse Redniss, formerly SVP, digital at USA Networks, and David Beck, previously general manager of social media at Univision.

The founders’ aim is to use their combined expertise to help both established and emerging companies navigate the digital upheaval across the media landscape. That includes providing consulting services in areas such as multi-screen programming, social TV, mobile and social monetization and partnership development.

“The pace of change in the 'traditional media meets digital, meets social, meets agencies and brands' ecosystem is exhausting, making it increasingly difficult for traditional media/entertainment companies, tech titans, emerging players, and brands to efficiently and profitably navigate,” said Redniss in an email exchange.

That’s where BRaVE (the upper case letters highlighting its founders' initials) comes in.

Redniss refers to the three founders as “thought partners, who actually have the operational expertise to actually accelerate the path to success.” At USA Networks, Redniss was credited with developing innovative social TV and cross-platform initiatives.

Between leaving the cable network in November 2013 and launching BRaVe, Redniss served as chief strategy officer at Mass Relevance, which merged with another social enterprise software business called Spredfast in April.

BRaVe cofounder Vaynerchuk has emerged as a social-media marketing guru in recent years, with Vayner Media’s focus on creating “micro-content” for specific social platforms attracting clients, such as PepsiCo, General Electric, Dove and Del Monte.

In his new role, Vaynerchuk will continue as CEO of Vayner Media, but “will be involved in key business elements and projects at BRaVe Ventures,” according to Redniss. He also suggested that Vaynerchuk would not work on projects for clients that might conflict with those of Vayner Media. Conversely, BRaVe might partner with Vayner Media where its expertise is required.

New York-based BRaVe says it has already taken on advisory work for major media companies and start-ups. In the latter category, the firm has already invested in Clasp.TV, a social TV start-up still in stealth mode, and Mashwork, a social media analytics firm.

While BRaVe is not organized as a venture capital firm, it has financial backing from VRSE, a $25 million fund created earlier this year by Vaynerchuk, Vayner Media and RSE Ventures. The fund has invested in early-stage companies to date including Birchbox, Drizly, Curalate and Medium.