One day in 2018, my sweet elderly dad asked to see his TV channel lineup printed out in a list like earlier days when TV providers made channel cards. You know, the ones that listed TV stations by channel number or alphabetically by network name?
I found nothing online that was print-friendly or didn’t have excessive pages full of wasted space. Then there was the problem of the channel lineups being out of date and those not meant for our geographic area.
Even the ones from the TV provider itself were problematic because the print size (font) was too small for comfort. Sometimes, these too were out of date!
So, I made him one.
But then we changed TV providers a few months later, so I made another one.
This got me thinking, maybe others too are looking for the same thing? With a little bit of research thanks to “keyword volume checkers” and Google Trends, I discovered a lot of people were searching for printable TV channel lists.
From there, I made channel lineup guides for the big TV providers in Canada (Rogers TV, Bell Fibe and Shaw TV). I continued with the American side as well, making TV station lists for the big TV providers like DirecTV, DISH Network, U-Verse, XFinity, Verizon Fios and more.
Then streaming TV (or internet protocol, IPTV) became increasingly popular, particularly in the USA but also to a lesser extent in Canada and beyond. Once I started making these printable streaming TV channel guides, I soon realized I needed to keep pace with their rapidly expanding TV channel lineups. A lot of hard work went in to ensure these PDFs were up to date and high quality (it takes a lot of time inserting high resolution TV network logos and making the lists printable!).
My original website, created in 2018, was tiny. It included only channel guide PDFs for Rogers and Bell TV. But once the American and streaming TV channel guides came along, the website clearly needed to expand and become fully dedicated on its own server (which costs a lot more).
I had no idea just how large it would get. By January of 2022, we had over 110 channel guides. Each one requires its very own web page. The PDFs, which are free for users to download, are currently being downloaded at a rate of 700+ per month! Nothing to sneeze at!
Business Model at Printable TVCG
Originally, I was going to charge a small fee for each PDF channel guide download. This is known as a “business-to-customer” model. The problem though, was this would create a financial barrier counterproductive to the goal of maximizing monthly PDF downloads.
Again, Dad stepped in — He is a retired building supply salesman with lifelong business and customer care experiences to draw upon.
He made it clear in a heartbeat I should go after other businesses instead of paying customers. Although we didn’t know how that might be done, he encouraged me, “Make it free and good things will come”.
A few weeks later, my friend, Rick Frayne, provided the answer. Looking at a hardcopy channel list (printed on paper), he noted the white space between the two columns of channels. “Put an ad in there” he pointed out, adding, “and go after businesses who’d be interested in advertising there”. Such a simple solution! We’re still waiting on our first official, paying advertiser (thus, the “Donate Now” button below).
Only well after the website was getting 100 visitors a day, did a similar notion occur to me: Put Google advertising on the website. [This is called “Google Adsense”, to distinguish ad publishers like us from Google advertisers.]
Realizing this dampens the website experience, I do my best to minimize the intrusion of ads on our web pages. It’s a balancing act, to ensure ads are seen but not intrude too much. I apologize for the “aggaro” it creates but advertisements are necessary to offset costs of running this website.
Who the Heck is Running this Website Anyway?
It’s in my nature to help others. I also took the Hippocratic oath in 2000 as a young physician. This means to help others (beneficence) yet not unintentionally harm them in the process (nonmaleficence).
As an Emergency Department physician, my job was to save lives and reduce suffering. It turned out the latter was much more common and although a little frustrating at first, I realized this is where I can do most. It provided the most impactful way to help others by allaying their fears and worries. Interesting stuff.
Due to my own personal problems in 2014, I needed to take time off from medicine. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Having the luxury of time to work on myself, it also allowed me an opportunity to explore my entrepreneurial ideas.
One of which is now called, “Outdoor Floors“, a balcony flooring business operating in Toronto, Ontario. We cater primarily to condo residents looking to expand living space by installing interlocking floor tiles on balconies, patios and terraces. Established 2014, we are still going strong. This is how I make ends meet financially.
More recently, I am planning a return to medical practice later this year (2022). But instead of the ER, I’ve opted to spend more time with patients in a much more rewarding setting: counselling and psychotherapy. My specific interest is to help those struggling with anxiety, depression and substance use disorders.
Before getting there however, I need to take things slow and will see patients online for “urgent care” issues. This is where VirtualMD Canada comes in, and thanks to Dr. Deepa Takhar, I am very excited and grateful for the opportunity to work with them.
Finally, I’ve recently created a new website offering a “Let’s Talk” opportunity for people to speak about their problems with me personally one-on-one. Given the worseing social isolation of Covid-19, it offers a simple and very effective way to get out of our heads and cope better with stress, substance use and addiction (substance use disorders).
Although I have bigger plans for that website (termed “Evolution Baby”, to denote self-evolution), it is a very simple online platform at this stage. It can be accessed at AmIAbnormal.com. Please note I am not yet working in the capacity as a physician and can’t give medical advice. Rather, it’s as a person with lived experience who is a great listener and calming influence.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to reach me anytime.
Dr. Darryl J. Gebien MD, MSc