Putting a new face on outdoor ads

StarCast brings interactive videos to idle shoppers and commuters

but the concept has been evolving since 1994. A graduate of Connecticut State University, Patrick originally got together with some of his Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers to create the Uptown Music Network. It was a company that was looking to replace the “elevator music” played in restaurants with hip-hop, soul, R&B and other music by artists of color. The music service business didn’t pan out, but the six buddies, now in their late 30s and early 40s, kept in touch.

Four years later, the group struck upon the concept of Internet-driven outdoor advertising. “We just got back together and said, ‘Here’s an opportunity to do something,'” says Patrick. The “brothers,” all of whom hold other jobs in telecommunications, now make up StarCast’s board of directors: Benjamin V. Rosa, chief financial officer; Albert B. Miles Jr., chief technology officer; Ralph Rivera, vice president of sales and marketing; Donovan Dillon, vice president of network architecture; and Leon W. Heyward, vice president of government affairs.

Under the company’s current plan, advertisers would contract with StarCast for a minimum of 3,650 minutes of advertising per year (10 minutes a day) on 175 StarCast screens at rates ranging from $21.92 to $34.25 per minute. At these rates, StarCast can maintain a lower per person advertising cost than television, radio, magazine or newspaper advertising, Patrick explains.

Of course the biggest challenge for StarCast is to raise the working capital needed to build its network. “The tough thing for us has been getting the money,” says Patrick, who is no stranger to brokering major deals. He has coordinated 20 corporate mergers and acquisitions totaling more than $5.3 billion. “We look at it [raising money] as a matter of time,” he says.

StarCast has already caught the eye of a number of potential advertisers, including ESPN and Access Entertainment Television cable networks, the advertising firm BBDO Worldwide, and Vibe and Spin magazines.

Patrick is confident that once the StarCast network is up and running, time will be on its side because the price of the hardware used, such as the flat-screen monitors and hard disks, is steadily declining. The key to StarCast’s success, says Patrick, is that we will be “making the most of today’s technology.”

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