Sofia Vergara Teams With TV Veteran For Digital Venture Raze

Courtesy of Raze
Raze Co-Founders Emiliano Calemzuk, Sofia Vergara and Luis Balaguer

The company will debut a mobile platform for Latin-centric stories later this year.

Sofia Vergara is making a play for mobile audiences with a new digital startup, Raze. 

The Modern Family actress has teamed with longtime business partner Luis Balaguer and former Fox executive Emiliano Calemzuk on the venture, which they describe as a mobile platform for editorial and video content that will appeal largely to young Latin American audiences. 

While the Raze platform will debut in mid-2017, the company is already at work on the other main component of its business, a production company that will produce Latin-focused content to sell to TV networks and streaming video services.

Raze's first project was Her Name Was Dolores — The Jenni I Knew, which debuted on Univision. It is also developing a scripted series based on the life of soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona, produced with Dhana Media and BFT in partnership with Maradona. In addition, it has a one-hour drama based on Wattpad novel Mi Hermanastro and a project in development about the life of hip-hop artist Don Omar.

"If you were doing this 10 years ago, it would probably be just a production company," says Calemzuk, who is serving as the CEO of Raze. He adds that the rise of mobile video consumption and the growth of the streaming space "made us think we couldn't just be a content provider, but we needed to build our own audience, our own following." 

For the mobile platform, Raze will start with shortform video in the news, lifestyle and beauty categories. It also plans to work with up-and-coming creators and to buy content from other digital producers. "We want to become the voice of a Latino perspective and we'll do that on our platform," Calemzuk adds. 

Beverly Hills-based Raze is funding its content efforts via a mid-seven figures round of funding that it raised from Greycroft Partners, Raine Ventures and UTA. The company also counts UTA and law firm Ziffren Brittenham as founding partners and advisors. The company's board members include Brent Weinstein, partner and head of digital at UTA, and Mark Terbeek, partner at Greycroft.  

Raze won't be the first company to go after a millennial Latino audience. Univision created digital platform Flama for shortform video before focusing its efforts on acquiring and building broader digital platforms Fusion, The Onion and the Gawker Media portfolio of brands. Meanwhile, MiTu launched as part of a wave of multi-channel networks on YouTube.

But Calemzuk believes there's an opportunity for another brand focused on working with established talent. "We don't think there's just one player that will do everything in this space," he says, adding that the company has "had the benefit of learning from some of the challenges of the MCN model" and is starting as a content producer as well as a content platform.