A “Mr. Magazine™” Conversation With Tom Florio, Founder & CEO, ENTtech Media Group. Part 2.

November 12, 2021

The News: “PAPER and Google Shopping have partnered to transform the trends of 2021 into an innovative shoppable magazine. Celebrities and influencers Jennifer Coolidge, Bella Poarch, Bretman Rock, Bia and Law Roach are featured. The shoppable magazine packages 21 of the most boundary-pushing trends in an editorial feature conceived by cultural disruptor PAPER. The trend list, including ‘cottagecore’ and TikTok Beauty was curated based on Google trends data.”

The Interview: Having seen the aforementioned press release, I decided to reach out to Tom Florio, of Vogue & Condé Nast’s fame and currently the founder & CEO of ENTtech Media Group LLC, which owns PAPER, and engaged in a Mr. Magazine™ conversation about ENTtech Media Group, 21of21 Shoppable magazine, the past, present and future of magazines and media brands.  Here is part two from our conversation presented in a new Mr. Magazine™ interviews format.  Hope you will enjoy…

On the Genesis of 21of21: I was in conversation with Stephanie Horton, the head of marketing for Google Shopping. And we had this idea about how to take information that’s coming from the consumer and curate it and create viral stories. And we have done it with the Demi Lovato story after NASA put out all this data about UFO.  Demi Lovato was all over her social media talking about UFO’s. So the editors of Paper, based on what was coming through social media, created this piece around Demi Lovato, where we actually made her an alien and shot it, and it went viral over the internet. 

So with Stephanie Horton we started to talk about how we could work together. And she said we have a lot of data in our Google trends and it would be really interesting to have your editors look at the data that’s coming through fashion, entertainment, and social, and have them curate what they think are the kind of coolest trends and create an editorial strategy that could be completely shoppable. And that’s what we’ve done. So when we looked at the trends, we studied the data and then we did what we do best: matched some of the content and some of the data with personalities, like taking Jennifer Coolidge and putting her with “cottage core,” which was kind of funny. With Google we built an entire new site around it from scratch, and the idea is to curate what the consumers are searching for and to add an entertainment quality to it, which we’re able to do as Paper, because we understand where the internet and pop culture come together, but then add this other layer of shoppability to it. And this was our first one out. 

On His Future Plans: I could say Google is amazing to work with. I mean they’re just so smart and fun to work with.  For me, it’s just consistent with where I’ve wanted to go with what a magazine is. It’s all about pushing everything forward. I’ve never used technology to hold on to an old way of doing media. And I think it’s one of the big mistakes larger companies have done. In 2004, we had shopvogue.com before there was a smartphone. You were able to scroll over things and click it and go to a URL. Neiman Marcus was the backend. So, even back then, you could shop the September issue of Vouge and we had 250,000 people spending 70,000 hours online shopping. 

So, so I’ve never been interested in using technology to support an old way of doing business. I’ve always been interested in taking magazine brands and pushing them out beyond the magazines. Let the magazine do what it does best that, and push it out beyond even its dot.com site. 

For me right now, taking ENTtech to a new level, doing shoppable magazines, doing NFTs, creating a record label because we produce a lot a of young talent like Dorian Electra.  These are the ways to take a content strategy with a, with a tech distribution platform, and just continue to communicate in different areas of entertainment for an audience. 

On ENTteck Media and Diversity: I launched ENTtech from scratch with one investor, and we grew five times in two years. And we’re taking a profit. We didn’t take profit last year, but we will break even or profitable one year after COVID. I actually spoke to a larger media company about investing in us because one of the things we do particularly well is we normalize diversity. It’s not like we’re trying to retrofit elitist with diversity. We did an issue with Colin Kaepernick on the cover of the September 2019 issue. The theme was “Know Your Rights.” 

We do the same with the LGBT community. We normalize; we don’t get wise. A lot of the work that we do is with big brands quietly behind the scene, advising them on their campaigns, to the LGBT community, to diverse audiences, and we help them create content strategies around them. So I think that’s a space that we have a lot of cultural legitimacyin, and we have a significant group of young, creative, and diverse contributors that enjoy working with Paper because we let them do the kind of work that’s important to them because it’s important to us. That’s part of our unique point of view in the world. 

The Future of ENTtech and 21of21: I’ve already had a little bit of feedback, um, that they liked it and they want to do it again, and we’ll probably move it up to September. I think there’s a lot of learning that took place. Stephanie and I met on this in July, we pulled the trigger on it in August and we delivered it in October. So our teams collectively worked really hard and furious to execute this. I could see an opportunity to take the entire Paperplatform and make it all shoppable. I don’t see any reason why a content platform shouldn’t be shoppable; people want to buy things.

I think our ability to amplify and target and deliver an audience for as little as a penny a view right now can compete with any major social entertainment company in the world. 

What Keeps Him Up at Night: My dog. (Laughs). What keeps me up at night? I think it’s very different Samir, when you’re an entrepreneur. I was a senior executive in a big successful company at the time. I was at the top of that food chain. When you own your company you worry about your staff, you worry about keeping everybody excited, and you worry about wanting to pay people more than you’re paying them. So I think what keeps me up at night is being an entrepreneur and thinking about all the things I want to do and wanting to take care of the people that work for me more than I’m able to do probably. I think about that a lot. 

One Final Word of Wisdom: If you’re part of the change, you don’t feel the change. So, all right, take care and thank you. 

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