West Virginia Startup: Reel Deal LLC Uniting College Students Through A Set Top Box


Interesting is the first word that comes to mind when checking out a new startup based in Wheeling West Virginia of all places. Reel Deal LLC was founded by Ramee Naja, Broderick Colaner and Phillip Mshelbawla, three students at Wheeling Jesuit University.  These guys obviously aren’t afraid of a big idea. Rather than a straight up online social network, a new movie streaming site, they’re offering will come in the form of a set-top box for college students in the spring of 2013.

Reel Deal is combining a social network of college students, through their University while simultaneously offering over 1000 movies via the set-top box, that college students are known to love. The set-top box will offer ways for students to interact, important classroom and institution information and of course some entertainment content.

Reel Deal plans to offer their service in conjunction with the universities and colleges that sign up. After the partnership is formed the students enrolled at those colleges will be able to access the service through the set-top box that will be a one time $49.99 fee via their technology account.

“Our company is based off our own ideas of what we think would help improve higher education. We focus on giving kids an avenue in which they can receive all their academic and social information, while being rewarded for choosing Reel Deal,” Naja said in a statement.

Beyond the initial $49.99 (which barely covers the hardware) Reel Deal will make money through targeted advertising delivered directly to the set-top box.

We got a chance to talk with Naja about Reel Deal and what it’s like to launch a startup in Wheeling WV. While the Wheeling ecosystem is still in it’s infant stages, they are just 40 minutes away from Pittsburgh which is flourishing.

Check out the interview below:

What is your startup, what does it do?
Reel Deal LLC is a company that builds college community through entertainment, social media, and advertisement. We offer students an enjoyable avenue to receive all of their academic and social information, while giving them up to 1,000 Hollywood films to stream on demand, directly to their dorm room. Through the use of the Reel Deal set-top box, and user interface, students will be able to check grades, emails, weekly menus, announcements, chat with classmates, stream movies, and much more.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds

Ramee Naja, Co-Founder

Ramee Naja was born in Detroit, Michigan on December 16th, 1992. Some of his interests include business, numbers, entrepreneurship, and soccer. Ramee aspires to become one of the worlds most renown entrepreneurs, and successfully start and run as many companies possible.

He attended Dearborn Public Schools for primary education and played high school soccer at Dearborn High School for 4 years. His soccer involvement led him to be 3 time All-City, All-District, and All-Conference team selection, while helping the Pioneers to 3 straight city, district, and conference titles. Currently Ramee attends Wheeling Jesuit University on academic and soccer scholarship, while studying Accounting/Pre-Law.

On May 31st, 2012 Ramee became a co-founder of Reel Deal LLC. He currently runs daily operations of the startup such as setting up meetings, negotiating cloud computing, film content licensing, and set-top box contracts.

Close business advisors to Ramee Naja are, Richard Beyer, President of Wheeling Jesuit University. Sold satellite systems for Trimble department at Navigation Ltd., Ryan Wall, Head of the entrepreneurship department at Wheeling Jesuit University and mobile app developer, and uncle Richard Mozack, who has a vast background in technology and marketing from IBM to Kohl’s.

Ramee’s goals for the next 5 years is to become a world renown entrepreneur. In five years, he sees Reel Deal becoming very successful. He hopes to successfully run and operate many more companies besides Reel Deal LLC.

Philip Mshelbwala, Co-Founder

Born, raised, and lived in Abuja, Nigeria for the first eleven years of his life. Philip moved to Edinburgh, Scotland where he attended James Gillespie’s High School and lived with his Aunt and two older sisters.

Philip is quite passionate about sports, and was a member and leader on the soccer, basketball, Table-Tennis, and badminton teams. Philip has always been a hard worker and started coming up with business ideas at the tender age of fifteen, when he started his own cleaning business that ran for a year and attended to eight apartments weekly.

His hard work and dedication on the soccer field and in the classroom earned him a soccer and academic scholarship to Wheeling Jesuit University. He is currently in his final year and on track to graduate in May 2013. He has always been fascinated with the technology industry and has kept close tabs on emerging companies in that sector.

In 5 year’s time he sees himself still running Reel Deal LLC with his partners and working on making it an international brand. He is crazy about soccer and a full-time supporter of Arsenal F.C.

Broderick G. Colaner, Co-Founder

Broderick is a graduate of Canton Central Catholic High School. During his time at Central Catholic Broderick played football, wrestled, ran track, and was class treasurer. He was also elected team captain of the football and wrestling teams. Broderick studied business at the University of Cincinnati for a year and now studies at Wheeling Jesuit University.

Broderick is currently studying at Wheeling Jesuit University. Although he is currently working on his first venture, he has learned a lot and has found much success. Broderick believes that in order to have a successful start-up, you need to be innovative. The world has enough social networks and online shopping sites. People need to fill the needs of their target audience in a way that it has never been filled before. This is why Broderick was so eager to create a new solution to fill that need with Reel Deal LLC.

Some close business advisors for Broderick and Reel Deal are Richard Beyer, Ryan Wall, Rick Suarez, and Gregory Colaner.

In five years Broderick plans to be successfully running Reel Deal with his partners, as well as working on other ventures. The Reel Deal team have envisioned a company that will be ever expanding and improving which means that their work for Reel Deal will never be complete.

Where are you based?

Reel Deal LLC is currently based in Wheeling, West Virginia.
What is the startup culture like where you are based?
Unfortunately the startup culture is quite weak, with the exception of the entrepreneurship department at Wheeling Jesuit University, but we are about 40 minutes away from Pittsburgh where the startup culture is booming.
What problem does your startup solve?
Reel Deal solves many problems in different areas of the college lifestyle. Academically, we know students no longer read flyers, or those “Whats New on Campus” emails, so we decided to build an enjoyable platform that students will be encouraged to use, so they not only see the information, but retain better as well. Students will be able to check emails, grades, weekly menus, schedules, sporting events, or anything to do with their school, right from the comfort of their room. Streaming wise, all we hear in now a days is how Netflix and other leading streaming companies have many titles, but none that college students actually want to view. Reel Deal targets a niche in college students, which makes it easier to cater to one group in terms of movie selections. We chose movies that students already know and love, and will continue to watch many times. Lastly, the advertising aspect of Reel Deal brings a new platform for college town business to advertise on. There is no platform in the college world, that connects the businesses in that college town, with the students. Businesses surrounding said school will be able to advertise on Reel Deal. This not only helps build business in that college town, but students will be able to see deals or coupons at their favorite stores and restaurants around town.
What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?
As we said earlier, we don’t in any way pretend to be a leader in the movie streaming business, the movies are just rewards for the colleges and students choosing Reel Deal. With that said, the hardest challenge we had to overcome was content licensing. In a world where movie licensing is increasing almost daily, is was very hard to be able to negotiate content licenses within our price range for the movies we wanted. Once we were able to get through that, it was a relief.
Who are your mentors and role models?
The two main mentors to Reel Deal LLC are President Rick Beyer and Ryan Wall. President Beyer and Ryan Wall both have a long history of their own entrepreneurial successes, and have taken to Reel Deal very kindly in helping us with whatever we need. Reel Deal’s role models are Josh Linkner, Dan Gilbert, Brian Hermerlin and Earvin “Magic” Johnson at Detroit Venture Partners. Reel Deal really believes in what DVP is doing for the city of Detroit, in helping build up the startup community there for the good of the city, as this relates to Reel Deal’s philosophy of trying to build community in college towns. Two other role models for Reel Deal are Richard Branson, and Mark Cuban. They both perfectly fit what the co-owners of Reel Deal want to achieve in business, to become world renown entrepreneurs.
Whats one thing the world doesn’t know about you or your startup?
One thing the world does not know about Reel Deal, is we will be starting a set of webisodes in the coming months, to document the months prior to the launch, and show America what the startup world, and being an entrepreneur really is like.
What’s next for your startup?
Currently, Reel Deal is seeking seed capital investment, and will soon be starting a nationwide college tour to recruit as many interested universities as possible for the Reel Deal service.
Find out more about Reel Deal here at their website
Nibletz is the voice of startups “everywhere else” here are more startup interviews from “everywhere else”
We’re on a sneaker-strapped nationwide startup road trip, care to help?

You Might Also Like