MarTechSeries: Interview with David Mason, CEO and Founder, StudioNow

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Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What made you start StudioNow?

I have been an entrepreneur for the past 25 years. Along the way, I have dabbled with having a normal job here or there, but always found that my passion was to create ideas and companies from scratch. My key ingredients have always been to identify a large-scale trend (internet retail, WiFi communications, digital video, etc.) and then create a new business model for that industry that utilized technology to disrupt the status quo. I started one of the first internet bookstores in 1994, which later became, which was then sold to Rakuten. I started StudioNow in 2007 because I was taking a ton of birthday and vacation pictures of my five- and two-year-olds at the time and never got around to doing anything cool with that content. While thousands of these pictures and videos were clogging up my hard drive other and more experienced individuals with film school backgrounds and editing software were uploading funny and entertaining videos to YouTube and generating millions of views. My original idea was to create a marketplace where less experienced individuals (people like me) could be matched with video experts to turn their pictures and videos into something that was worth watching. StudioNow 1.0 was born and on the first day, we had about 80 video professionals sign up to be part of the StudioNow Creative Network. Fast forward to today, and we now have over 10,000 creative vendors from mom and pop creative shops to some of the largest, high-end production companies in the world. We stopped making video content for individuals in 2008 and our software platform now manages the video creation process (vendor sourcing, bidding, project management, contracting, payment, etc.) for some of the largest companies in the world, including Coca-Cola, P&G, HP, Bridgestone, etc.

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Finding Scorsese: For Brands, the Right Creator Makes all the Difference

You’ve just written the screenplay for the next great American mob movie. It’s set in New York in the 70’s, a gritty, hard-boiled tale of a young mobster’s quest to take control of “The Family” from the violent boss who leads it now. You have 10 seconds to choose the ideal director for your film. Who do you pick?

Now chances are that in a 10 second span, Martin Scorsese’s name popped into your head if not to the top of your list. He’s made a career out of his passion and his vision for that world. He’s brought it to life in a brilliant fashion many times before. (And hey, he’s got a great in with De Niro and DiCaprio, who would be perfect as your leads). 

It’s the director of a film—the creator in charge—who is going to play the biggest role in its success. He or she is the one with the creative vision, the drive and the passion that bring the story to life. Yes, there are many elements that go into creating a great film: the script, the talent, the score, and the list goes on. Yes, each piece is important, and no film would exist without it. In the end, however, they all tie back to the person in charge of the project, the person who obsesses over every detail and drives it to completion by leveraging every ounce of their experience and expertise. 

It’s no different for brands creating video content today. As a brand marketer, you have to make sure that each piece of content represents your brand in the best possible light. It doesn’t matter how big or small a project is: if it's leaving your hands and going out into the world, it has to be of the highest quality, it has to be engaging, and it has to be on brand. Period. How do you do that? By making sure the right creator is working on the right project.

The director who is perfect for your glossy 30-second TV spot is likely not the right choice for an intimate, human-interest doc about your sustainability program. The high-end 3D animation shop creating amazing renders of your new product’s internal workings isn't the perfect fit for the super-hot sizzle reel that introduces your CEO at the next investor conference. Your needs are highly specialized. You need experts who know how to cater to them. 

Your organization has offices, employees, customers, and audiences around the world.  Being at every shoot and sitting in every edit suite is simply not feasible. Traveling creatives and crews is cost prohibitive, inefficient, and slow.  Even if you have your own high-end studio, you can’t film everything in that space. Your needs are global. You need to be everywhere at a moment's notice.

Today, we live in a world where video has become the de facto method of communication both inside and outside the walls of an organization. Top brands are putting out 15, 30, even 50 or more videos per week. And yet the key to ensuring a great video still lies in finding the perfect creator to bring your project to life. How can you accomplish this demanding task at any kind of scale? 

We believe that you need a Creative Network.  Not a wide open pool of anybody and everybody who has a camera and a dream, but a highly-curated, highly-managed collection of the best and brightest creative talent from around the world—that is specifically matched to your project.  Over the past 10-15 years, an entire generation of talented creatives has emerged, one that is committed to innovating and pushing the boundaries of what video content can and should be.  

At StudioNow, we’ve made it our mission to harness the power of that talent and to place a diverse network of trusted experts at your fingertips. So, as your content demands grow and your capabilities scale, you have the right Scorsese, Kubrick, or simply the right kick-ass animator on your team when and where you need them. 

John Wallace




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