Sistah Sinema: Providing Community through Niche Film Distribution

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most Americans watch TV at an average of 2.8 hours a day. This makes the business of entertainment a massively lucrative industry and a place where there is a lot of competition. However, Jenifa Yador, founder of Sistah Sinema, decided to take advantage of this market to ensure the story of a unique minority community is being told and being seen.

Sistah Sinema provides access to independent films by underrepresented filmmakers at live events and online. Targeting queer women of color who are interested in film, the organization brings attention and a safe space of viewing and discussion of film projects written by, directed by or featuring queer women of color. By bringing access to films and conversations that highlight the experiences of this niche audience to scale, Jenifa has found a gap in the existing film distribution market and has sought to address the gap in a unique way.

Sistah Sinema works directly with underrepresented film makers to bring their films to market and provides a readily available audience for the films through local viewing events, run by the company. During the film viewings, there is typically discussion about the film and socializing amongst the audience, thus building a self-identified community, which adds to the customer value. The company also now provides access to the films through an online channel, via IndieFlix, for a subscription fee to the customer.

With a focus on local community access, Jenifa used existing events targeting LGBTQ and allies as an audience, to drive exposure to the film viewings. This included partnerships with local events to ensure co-marketing opportunities. Additionally, the company uses social media to drive community engagement virtually and build a viral effect. The company has been growing strongly, expanding local events across 11 cities in the US.


Blog #4: Advertisement Analysis

I have noticed that on the sponsored ads section of Facebook, I most often see ads about Microsoft or the fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma. This isn’t very surprising to me because I work at Microsoft and I am also a member of the fraternity. Paying more attention to these ads, it is impressive to see how the companies, in partnership with Facebook, has been able to interpret my behavior on the social app and my associations to target me for the right ads.

I acknowledge both the ad channel and the promoting company in this. Facebook has taken advantage of its access to millions of people’s social networking and online searching behavior and it providing companies with the ability to target many different segment types. For example, since the fraternity wanted to target its members, the most granular level of targeting Facebook might have been able to provide is “people associated or actively socializing with a sorority or fraternity”, but instead they allow you to target a specific fraternity or sorority, making the relevance of the ads much stronger.

Below is a photo to show as an example.


StatMuse: Making Everyone the Sports Expert

Data is becoming a common part of the socially connected person’s life and there are several companies who are trying to capitalize on this movement. The amount of public data is increasing exponentially across the internet, but the average person is likely still mystified as to how to access and make meaning of the data around them.

Sports statistics is one of those opportunities where data analytics can really become a accessible and viral thing for the regular person. This company does a great job of “putting the demo where their mouth is” by showing how easy it is to have a conversation with their app to inquire about different sports facts and get simple and rich visualizations and tabular data that answers it. No need to search for the right data, do anything tricky to the data or create the visualizations from scratch.

To promote such a product, this company would want to reach out to influencers in the sports fan community. Both official/large brands, like ESPN and niche players, like could help to promote this product by using it directly in their blog editorials.

Key influencers added:

Kurbo Health

Kurbo Health is a health and lifestyle tracking and personalized coaching mobile app that is focused on children, teens and their families. This company is similar to our The company has a website consisting of product details, customer evidence and a blog. A Facebook page and Twitter handle have also been created under the company brand.

The company seems to be positioning in the market as access to a top-notch research-backed weight lose and behavioral modification system without the costs but with the coolness factor of a fun phone app for children. It is described as a support to the parent by taking the exhausting disagreements out of getting your child to eat healthy and making weight loss and control an enjoyable and collaborative family experience.

The value of the company, however, goes way beyond the benefits of the app to the parent and his/her family. Being an adaptive app certainly provides the family with an ongoing benefit from an assistant, with personalize recommendations, activities and a social component. Looking at the company’s blog and social channels, they also position themselves as an authoritative voice on healthy family lifestyle, providing editorial content about current research findings, suggested food recipes and even tips and tricks for family activities. This creates a subscription experiences for their target customers, who are likely the mothers in the household.

With the content provided on Kurbo Health’s blog and their social channels, and the way in which their promotional videos are captured, it is clear that the company wants to capture the mothers who are concerned about health and weight control for their children. They certainly give the right focus and provide the right engagement channels for this audience.

The Koru Program

Koru ( is a 4-week intensive practical skills training program available locally in Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston. In short, the program promises to provide participants with right business skills and professional connections needed to be noticed by today’s tech companies, with the added bonus of a guaranteed job interview with such a company at the end.

The program’s website outlines two flavors of the program that meet the needs of two types of customers: 1) the recent graduate or aspiring student, nearing graduation and willing to dedicate four weeks to the program, versus 2) the busy student or professional who needs to approach the program at their own personalized pace. In either case, the target audience seems to be students or professionals who desire to start a career in the tech industry, but does not have the time, money or interests in pursuing a 2-3 year MBA or similar business academic program at a traditional college.

I think Koru shines in its professional network, which is, supposedly, accessible to participants during the program. Several notable people are listed, including an expert in residence of the Harvard Innovation Lab, the head of recruiting at LinkedIn, several CEOs and founders, as well as the music icon, Nas! This certainly allows the company to compete with traditional MBA and alternative business certificate options, which may also have network potential, but do not guarantee interviews.

While this disruptive approach to career readiness certainly seems to position Koru well for stealing market share from traditional academic programs, there are a few potential challenges I can see facing the company. First, the pricing for the program is not listed. The website states that participants can pick a payment plan after they have been accepted. With this, it seems the initial audience they are targeting may be graduate students who are supported by affluent parents and/or not concerned about the cost to getting connected to a high tech company. Cost is typically a big factor in academic program choice, not just time commitment. For the company to reach beyond this audience, they will need to show they can be competitive on price upfront.

Another challenge for Koru may be in maintaining high enough quality of program graduates to ensure they can sustain their company connections. Since pledging an interview is part of their business model, it will be important to ensure reputable companies are willing to support this perk for their graduates. Currently, the program probably tries to address this by controlling the selection of their participants. Interviewing is, however, not a guarantee on the quality of students they bring in.