Originally from New Jersey, Randy Rutledge, Founder of Singletree Media, an over-the-top (OTT) digital media network company, has spent the better part of three decades in technology and education. In February 2020, she launched a media platform designed to bypass traditional outlets to allow entrepreneurs to better control and own their valuable content. Rutledge shared the story behind her journey – one that includes previous entrepreneurial endeavors – and explained how and why her newest business came to be.
“I’ve been in tech since 1988,” Rutledge said. “I started off as part of a help desk where I also did some coding. I then worked for a Honda manufacturing facility in Alabama where I did market quality, lean manufacturing, Six Sigma and data analytics type work. I then worked for Deloitte as a Technology Consultant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. I got into Big Data, Health Informatics and Bio Surveillance and was eventually hired by the CDC as a Senior Project Manager.”
Rutledge continued, “After the CDC, I took a VP job with ICF International, where I worked with data programmers, statisticians and on various health initiatives. I reached a point with ICF where certain changes made me think about my future and going in a different direction. Around this time, I accepted a position with the Department of Veteran Affairs in the Tampa Bay area and my husband and I moved to Florida. I spent four and a half years with the VA while also working part-time for my Alma mater, Mercer University. They approached me in the fall of 2013 and asked if I wanted to teach an Informatics course. I accepted the opportunity, got credentialed and created 20 related courses.”
As Rutledge shared, from that opportunity came additional opportunities to serve as a part-time adjunct faculty for other universities. During this time, Rutledge was asked to do some online learning apps for Mercer. An opportunity plus funding from an organization is what ultimately laid the foundation for Singletree Media.
Rutledge explained, “That was the source of the initial money for the developers who built the apps. I had a publishing company at the time doing online books for my courses, but the idea behind Singletree was the one way to do everything I’ve done in one single space.”
Rutledge continued, “The easiest way to explain Singletree Media is that it’s a way to stream live content, video-on-demand content and podcast content over top of an existing constrictive technology environment. Our typical customers currently use YouTube, Facebook or LinkedIn to get their content out there. Unfortunately, Facebook – and other popular social media platforms – have ad vendors that are requesting more and more restrictions be placed on the ocean of content. Further, algorithms are restricting social streams due to the fact that the platform is free not rented. Businesses used to be able to send out certain content, but now much of that content is getting blocked.”
The free Singletree app allows users to stream their content 24 hours a day with very few restrictions on content. Users have more control over their content, which then, according to Rutledge, gives them a true business asset they own. The content is no longer used to attract advertisers; it’s used to attract customers for that business.
“You can have a channel with your own content,” she said. “Our customers are those that want to own their social stream and those that want a broader audience.”
As Rutledge shared, the challenge, so far, is conveying the right narrative. Businesses use content marketing to create brand awareness, but many are oblivious to the fact that they really don’t have control of their content.
“They don’t understand that the content they’re creating is actually a business,” Rutledge said. “Most of these business owners don’t realize they can move into a different space to have more control and generate additional income. We show them that doing that is possible with Singletree Media.”
Rutledge is growing her business by utilizing social media, networking where possible and through an Entrepreneur Spotlight channel she recently launched. She enjoys assisting entrepreneurs with growing their business through digital content placement and seeing the value it brings to their business bottom line. Looking ahead, her goals are lofty, yet easily achievable for someone with Rutledge’s experience, passion and drive.
“We would like to see Singletree become a digital incubator for new entrepreneurs,” she said. “Incubation would include TV channels and/or sub-channels created specifically for their business content placement on Apple TV, Roku TV, Fire TV, Android, and iOS Mobile Apps.”
What advice does Rutledge have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “There are all types of entrepreneurs,” she said. “You define your entrepreneurship. For folks that I like to call ‘AfterFivePreneurs’, here are nine pieces of advice. (1) After work, use your time to invest in you. (2) How? Learn more about your passion and ideas for a business. (3) Flesh them out -- write down what, why, when, how. (4) Take your time - think – research. (5) Consistently spend 2 - 4 hours (after work) on building your business. (6) Check out competitors -- how are they doing this work -- what are the gaps. (7) If you are serious -- create an LLC. (8) Develop your business story. (9) Find mentors and resources like FLVEC.”
She added, “Your business is part of your life story. So, document how you came up with the business idea. Explain why it is important. Whom are you trying to help? Why are you trying to help them? What is the value/benefit? Use your business story to help craft your brand, talking points, sales pitch, and other marketing assets. Need a clearer picture of how, what, when? Check out this book - It will change your life: The Wealthy Gardner: Life Lessons on Prosperity between Father and Son (by Joseph Soforic).”