Alleywatch Feature: Casting Depot is the Talent Marketplace and Network for the Casting Industry


Ben Russell

Ben Russell

·8 min read


Professional networking sites like LinkedIn help millions of people connect and build their professional network, but if you’re an actor or performer, LinkedIn probably isn’t the best destination if you want to get discovered for your next on-camera role. Casting Depot is the professional network that connects the talent and casting directors. The entertainment talent marketplace supports production across TV, Film, Voice Over, and Film. Structured as a subscription service, both talent and casting teams can get access to Casting Depot’s growing network for a nominal monthly fee. Notable media companies such as Harper Bazaar, Bustle, and HGTV are already on the platform.

AlleyWatch caught up with Cofounder Lacey Kaelani to learn more about the launch of Casting Depot, coming out of beta with 2,000 users, and the company’s future plans.

Tell us about the product or service that Casting Depot offers.

Casting Depot is a professional network for creators to source and engage with every type of talent.

What inspired the start of Casting Depot?

In 2019, Casting Depot became a prominent casting company generating content for a handful of Fortune 500 companies such as Hearst Media, HGTV, Bustle Digital Group, MTV, and more. The company grew to 310K active opt-in users.

What became increasingly frustrating was the inefficiency within the casting process. Why do major companies spend millions of dollars on casting every year when they don’t need to? And voilà – Casting Depot was born.

How is Casting Depot different?

A female-owned and operated company based in NYC, Casting Depot is the only professional network to be a complete end-to-end workflow process for creators to complete their projects on time and on budget. We are also the only network to be talent agnostic in the entertainment industry.

Lastly, our model replicates the social functionality of LinkedIn with the purposes of booking talent for content creation.

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The on-camera talent placement market is ~$5B in the United States with over 3,500 companies dedicated to booking talent. The market is expected to grow at 4.3% with nearly infinite on-camera placements per year.

According to PWC, the U.S. entertainment and media industry is ~$703B, which is expected to grow to $804B by 2021. Our U.S. M&E market is 33% of the global M&E industry, which is the largest M&E market in the world. Other close leaders include India, Australia, and Mexico. Casting accounts for ~1.5-2% of those budgets.

What is the business model?

Our network is two-sided, serving talent and creators. We have a Basic ($12.99/month) and Premium ($15.99/month) model that charges to both sides of our network.

How has COVID-19 impacted the business?

Surprisingly not so much. Casting is a part of the pre-production process and the year works in cycles. Casting budgets were set pre-Covid, so we’re still seeing activity in our space. In fact, we’ve seen a growth in casting for Ad companies who have to use their products as a response to Covid-19.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?

Our team has worked extremely hard to build an incredible network that aims to create efficiency within the casting process. We’re currently in our final beta round of 2,000 users with projects from networks such as HGTV, Hearst Media, NBC, and other development projects.

Our next milestone will be launch at the end of July.

What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?

Think of your Series B even if you’re only raising a Pre-Seed. I noticed that in my initial investor meetings I continued to get questions revolving future rounds (primarily because the funds I was meeting with like to support their portfolio clients throughout the company lifecycle). As a first-time founder, I wish someone had prepared me for those types of questions. It’s never too early to think about the exit of your company, even if you don’t know what’s on the agenda for tomorrow.

I noticed that in my initial investor meetings I continued to get questions revolving future rounds…As a first-time founder, I wish someone had prepared me for those types of questions.

If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?

The team at Attention Capital.

Why did you launch in New York?

Executives in media and entertainment generally sit in NYC, which is what brought my business partner and I to the city about 6 years ago. Over those years, my business partner and I have cast and developed in the digital, cable, streamer, commercial, and emerging content space. NYC is the place to grow your casting career. Thus, it was the perfect place to launch Casting Depot.

Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?

Mace in the LES (obviously).