In this interview of the Fundacity Inside Startups series, we chatted to a true self starter that is changing the performing arts scene. Get to know the story of Benjamin Evans as he embarks on creating Getcast: the Behance of the entertainment industry.
Tell me about yourself.
I am an actor, designer and the founder of Getcast. I’m a digital marketing professional and a creative visual designer. I’m a passionate self-starter who is inspired by the ever-changing world of new media, and leverages digital technology and psychological principles to craft experiences that engage and captivate audiences.
I’ve worked with everyone from Manhattan hipsters running an art magazine out of their apartment to some of the world’s biggest brands. I wear a lot of hats and can manage a project from brief to awards show. I can be a one-man band (if need be), but also have experience collaborating with people from a wide range of disciplines.
What is the essence of your startup?
Getcast is a platform for performing art professionals. A place where artists — actors, dancers, singers, models & musicians can showcase their work, hone their craft, and access opportunities. Employers can use Getcast to track and connect with talent on a global scale. Our mission is to be the ‘Behance’ for the entertainment industry; empowering performing artists with the tools, resources and opportunities to take control of their creative careers.
How did it all start?
I started as an actor before I worked on guest lists for promoting nightclubs in London. At the time we wanted to launch a website to communicate our events. We looked for web designers but we couldn’t find any so I taught myself in the evenings. I made the website and eventually we sold the events business.
From there on, I found myself taking on design work, freelancing and eventually made a move to Jamaica. I started marketing based design company. It was really born out of necessity. The economy was struggling and marketing spending was essential to the tourism industry. I had local and international clients. The opportunities were immense.
From there I moved to the US for 2 years and then back to the UK as a creative director but I also had side jobs with the disney channel and Nickelodeon. The next step was applying to Startup Chile.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business?
The opportunity itself. I first learnt about the availability of funding on a HackerNews post. I applied with an idea born in my work as a designer. I wanted to create a video based training platform for entrepreneurs. I wanted to create a platform similar to Lynda for communication, presentation, marketing, and personal branding, all offered to the public.
But then I realized that my true passion lies in the performing arts space. The problem was that there was no creative control over our lives as designers. Getcast was born there and then. It is the behance of the entertainment industry.
Do you have a co-founder? How did you meet?
No. I started on my own as the sole designer. Along the way, I was outsourcing some jobs and I got to know Nicholas who is the CTO of Getcast now. Nicholas direct involvement has proven to be good for the growth of the business.
How did you find people to join your team that truly care about your startup the way you do?
Nicholas offered to work on the MVP for free until the launch. That was a strong indicator of caring about the startup. He also has experience in the digital recruitment space.
Did new joiners affect the culture or dynamics of the startup?
We drive each other forward. Joining forces proved to be synergetic.
How do you build a successful customer base?
The challenge that I faced was the typical platform problem: Do you get talent first or employers? Think of it like the chicken/egg problem. What’s interesting is that the entertainment industry is inherently socially active and I had to take advantage of that. I started with word of mouth promotion and research. I asked contacts if they believe in what we do. If they respond positively, I asked them to sign up, share and donate. Furthermore, I engaged in cold-calling agents to market GetCast. Currently we have 5,000 talents on the database.
I think the #1 rule is speaking to your customers. I am building a platform for performers, by performers. Having said that, I think my experience in the Geek Fantasy Camp, a week long mentorship program, has been beneficial in terms of customer acquisition.
Realized by the vision of Marcello Diaz Bowen, the Geek Fantasy Camp attracts investors and mentors to catalyze the success of a select group of startups. The impressive roster of companies spend a month in San Francisco to receive world class best-practice models covering fundraising and customer acquisition amongst other areas. A lot of experience was gained here in customer database and engagement.
What are the latest achievements of your startup?
Our strategy entails 4 major milestones. Let me fill you on each of them:
- Milestone 1: MVP + Split A/B testing landing page and analytics
- Milestone 2: Expanding features to include not only performers but scriptwriters and directors
- Milestone 3: Expanding features to allow showing off work in progress and allow funding.
Milestone 1 (MVP) will be launched 2 weeks.
What risks are you facing today?
The number one risk is a closed market. What this means is that we have large players in Hollywood and Bollywood with a status quo that is hard to disrupt. A young upstart that wants to empower performers and change the industry faces resistance. The industry is famously known to be reluctant to embrace technology but things are changing. We are looking to ride the wave and show that technology paves the way to advance the entertainment industry. The artists love Getcast and we rely on their support.
How are you currently funded?
We have managed to attract funding from various sources. We started with Startup Chile but we also raised funds through donations, the geek fantasy camp and some angel investors.
Share a recently discovered tool, resource or tip for fellow entrepreneurs.
I am thrilled to share Mixergy. It is a tool to learn from CEO’s and founders through interviews. This was my initial idea which I wanted to start in Chile.
What is your goal for this week?
Really to wrap up a lot of outstanding design elements on the site. The MVP will be launched in 2 weeks and I hope to wrap up much of the design now.
How would you characterize your life as an entrepreneur
Frantically busy. Never enough time. Too much to do. Wouldn’t do anything else but this.