Media Mogul

Making deals for unsold airtime helped this entrepreneur fund business growth.
This story first appeared in the April 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

One way to reduce the risk and cost of launching a new consumer product is to get TV stations to run your ads for free. That's exactly what R.D. Smith did when he launched Drive & Grow Rich Inc. This year, Smith, 33, will sell more than $10 million worth of motivational and business CDs and sign up 100,000 new subscribers without paying a cent for advertising.

Smith calls his secret formula "joint venturing" with the media. "Every media outlet has some unsold airtime," he says. "Instead of taking a loss on it, they give it to me in exchange for a split of the sales."

Because Smith's products are attractive to a broad demographic, his media partners run the Drive & Grow Rich advertisements at every opportunity. His 30- and 60-second ads run more than 1,000 times a day on radio and TV. Smith says media companies have literally funded his startup and growth. He has used more than $5 million worth of media in two years and never paid for any of it out-of-pocket.

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