For entrepreneur Tom Scott '89, cofounder and former CEO of Nantucket Nectars, the fun in starting a business is the learning. "We didn't know anything about juice or marketing," Scott said in a recent phone interview, recalling the early days when he and college buddy Tom First '89 sold juice off of a boat in Nantucket harbor. Today, Nantucket Nectars is a multimillion-dollar company, and thirty-eight-year-old Scott, who sold his Nectars ownership in 2002 for a reported $70 million, is on to a new challenge - television. The Juice Guy is now a cable guy at the helm of Plum TV, a rarified local cable network.
Scott and two partners launched the twenty-four-hour network two years ago on Nantucket and have expanded it to include channels on Martha's Vineyard, in the Hamptons (Plum's headquarters and Scott's new home), and in the upscale Colorado ski areas Vail and Aspen. "These are not your average towns," said Scott. Plum's programming tries to appeal to both blue-collar residents and wealthy vacationers, covering community issues while playing host to celebrities passing through town. Rudy Giuliani, John Kerry, and Bill and Hillary Clinton have been guests on Plum's popular morning show. "We'll have Nantucket's harbormaster in one segment, and [best-selling author] David Halberstam in the next," said Scott.
The celebrities tend to overshadow segments on beach erosion, and some shows, like the lifestyle program Out and About With J. Crew, feel like extended commercials (Scott's wife, Emily, founded J. Crew, which is a Plum TV sponsor). But Scott insists the network is more than just cable for the country club set. He sees it as an incubator for new talent.
"We want to be to television what Sundance is to film," said Scott. Think this sounds like a stretch? Just remember, his last venture started out as a floating lemonade stand.