NZ startup aims to disrupt global film distribution
Indie Reign CEO David White has just hit the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco, looking to push his company’s online movie distribution service.
The Hamilton-based company, backed by investment from Movac, commercially launched its service last week after several months of testing. It has six staff, spread across NZ and India.
Indie Reign offers a software video player that can be embedded into any website. It allows a movie to be bought and downloaded, or rented and streamed. .
Full high definition files are supported, though step-down options are also available.
The movie maker sets the price, Indie Reign clips the ticket on each download or stream.
White says video on-demand will be a $US16 billion market worldwide by 2016.
That may well be so, but how do you compete with the big boys already established in the market, like Netflix, Apple iTunes, and Amazon Prime?
As its name suggests, Indie Reign is hitting the independent film maker niche.
White’s pitch is that every year, more than 10,000 films are submitted to the Sundance festival alone (many of them shorts) but only around 1% gain a global distribution deal.
“You spend years of your life raising money, making the film, then six or 12 months on the festival circuit then … nothing,” the CEO says.
ABOVE: This clip is Kordia sponsored, but gives you a good overview of the Kiwi Landing Pad, and a look at the space.
There appears to be a good little gap in the market for Indie Reign to fill.
As NBR has already seen, even a big player by New Zealand standards – South Pacific Pictures – can’t get a foot in the door with Apple iTunes. The video-on-demand services only talk to the big studios, or big content aggregators.
ABOVE: You can follow other members on Indie Reign (which officially launched a week ago), and earn free downloads if you promote films to your social media contacts.
Of course, an indie film maker still has to draw people to a movie’s website, or wherever it hosts Indie Reign’s embedable player.
To this end, White’s company offers several “gamification” elements. If people promote a movie to their social media contacts, they earn points. Score enough points, and you earn a free download. If you like their taste in movies, you can follow other members.
I was recently up at the Kiwi Landing Pad, and it’s a great environment. The ex-light industrial space (which doubles as Australia’s StartUp House), has been refashioned as a light and spacious open-plan office.
Instead of trying to find his way, alone, in a foreign city, White is surrounded by Kiwi (and Aussie) entrepreneurs who already know the lay of the land. They range from the fresh-off-the-boat to more established names like Vend and Xero (who share Sam Morgan as an investor and director, which is no coincidence - the Landing Pad was the Trade Me founder's brainchild.)
ABOVE: Movies can be shown in full-screen, full high definition, or streamed or downloaded at lower resolution options. Indie Reign's player can be embedded anywhere - complete with preview and buy options (click the play button on the clip below; it's live).
Indie Reign is on the Kiwi Landing Pad’s new Catapult programme, which means White will spend four weeks immersing himself in the US, learning the market.
All his flights and accommodation are paid for. He only has to pick up the tab for food. And with a ready-made office at the Landing Pad, he can just get on with it.
The accommodation – immediately beside the Landing Pad – is nothing flash, by the way. It’s hostel-style accommodation with a shared kitchen.
Some of the immediate neighbourhood is a little “edgy”.
After his iPhone’s digital compass was thrown out, and he was too embarrassed to do the wave-it-in-a-figure-8 thing to reset it, your correspondent took a wrong turn, and within a block was in front of a needle exchange, and various challenging characters on the street corners.
But the SOMA district of the city is also rapidly regenerating. Beyond the Kiwi Landing Pad, LinkedIn, Twitter and Zynga have set up offices. If you’re a tech entrepreneur, there are no better neighbours.