Simage Network projects 2010 growth

Simage Network has ambitious plans for the year ahead and is seeking new ideas to be part of them.

“We are taking pitches for original programming, just on a micro scale,” says executive producer Wallach. “We have two episodic programs running already and plan to increase that scale tenfold. Bring us your mini-show ideas and we will see how it can work on our network.”

The Northbrook-based interactive video content supplier for bars, restaurants and entertainment venues, projects that Simage will grow its viewership from 500,000 to 5 million by year’s end, says Wallach, a five-time Emmy winner for series, including “Starting Over.”

Simage holds seasonal short film competitions ? the next one is for Valentine’s Day ? in which venue patrons vote for the winning filmmaker. The winner receives a $750 prize and a commission to produce another short for Simage. Wallach is working towards a contest every month.

Simage provides six different audio-free video loops for venues to choose from. Some pieces appear throughout the network, and others are available only on particular loops.

The loops are provided free to venues, with advertisers subsidizing the cost of original content. Venues can upload their own promotional content through a text-based interface.

“Brands get that our particular model that gives them lift and additional exposure,” Wallach says. “There are other companies out there, but none offer a single element screen in full HD, with interactive campaign content.

“The competition offers recycled TV programming, ad blasters or old-school trivia. We have found a new way to reach customers and the response is great.”

Venue-customized advertising is increasingly being recognized as a cost-effective way to reach tech-savvy viewers, who are more likely to skip the commercials at home.

Viewers are able to comment on and interact with content on the network as well as upload their own video.

Simage was founded in January, 2009 by three Kellogg MBAs: ISP Interaccess founder Tom Simonds, IT company Aspen Consulting co-founder Stewart Booden, and Anju Ahuja, a partner in venture capital firm Psyche Manufactury.

Simage purchased its content from stock footage suppliers until Wallach joined the company. He began generating original content from a roster of freelancer videographers, particularly Brian Schilling and Michael Ruggielo, as well as editors, animators and designers.

Simage currently has a staff of 10, including four in production, plus eight freelancers.

Simage currently supplies content to 50 venues, mostly in Chicago with a handful in Texas, Florida and Nebraska. “The plan is to use Chicago as a test market for campaigns and roll-out to other markets from here with local level customization,” Wallach says.

With the forthcoming expansion, Wallach hopes to begin hiring full-time production staff in the spring. “We need freelance,” he adds. “We are looking, looking, looking. I can’t get the word out there enough. I want to hire shooters, every day, all the time, everywhere.”

Simage is at 5215 Old Orchard Road, Suite #200, Skokie, 60077; phone 847/867-4692. See