Casting Depot: The New Digital Economy For Media And Entertainment


Ben Russell

Ben Russell

·6 min read

Interview with Lacey Kaelani, CEO & Co-Founder of Casting Depot

Tell us about Casting Depot. What do you do?
Casting Depot is the digital economy for media and entertainment. Users can find on-camera media opportunities from major networks such as Netflix, HBOMax, Twitch and more. Our freelance management tools creates efficiency for creators and talent in gig booking, payroll processing and legal document management. Our business attacks a $28B SOM. We’re a unique vertical in the professional networking model across tech today.

What is your startup’s origin story?
In 2019, Casting Depot became a prominent casting company generating content for a handful of Fortune 500 companies such as MTV, Buzzfeed, Hearst Media, HGTV, Bustle Digital Group, and more. What became increasingly frustrating was the inefficiency within the talent-booking process and the closed access to opportunities in the media and entertainment sector. Why does this feel like an archaic industry stuck in the 90's? And voilá — Casting Depot was born.

Had you been involved in the industry before this startup? What is your background?
Both of my parents were entrepreneurs, so it was only inevitable that I become one too. With hopes of doing something of my own one day, I pursued my undergraduate in economics and a graduate is in finance. Along the way, I fell in love with the entertainment industry. Since I was 18, I’ve worked in casting and development for unscripted, digital and animation projects. I’m lucky to work alongside my incredible Co-Founder and CTO Brad Larson. He has an impressive background in building marketplaces and leading teams. I credit the success and growth of this platform to him.

What’s unique about your company? What are the key differentiators between you and other players?
In media, booking on-camera talent is a highly fragmented process. Imagine using a system with a craigslist-style interface, turnaround time, and user reliability to fill an urgent staffing need. That’s the current status of the talent booking workflow. Casting Depot brings the talent-booking process to 2020. Our model replicates the social functionality of LinkedIn with the purposes of booking talent for content creation. You can post gigs, share with your friends, keep up-to-date on industry news, process payroll and manage legal documents.

Take us through a day in your life. What does the typical day look like?
The best thing about building a startup is that every day brings something new. Days often start with writing a to-do list, check-ins with the team and then getting straight to work.

What has been the most challenging part of growing your company?
Our biggest challenge has been incorporating user feedback quickly. We’re a small team and creating a product that supports the entire media space is a big monster in itself.

What has been your best marketing channel? What are some channels you are looking to explore next?
Partnerships are the best form of marketing for us. We’re always looking to partner with companies that rely on content creation — from production companies and AD agencies, to gaming studios and podcast platforms. Anyone who needs access to talent is welcomed in our inbox.

What apps do you use that you would recommend to others?
Our favorite products to use are Discord, Clubhouse.IO, and Superhuman.

Do you have a book, podcast, or Youtube channel you would recommend to other Entrepreneurs?
I recommend reading Bob Iger’s The Ride of a Lifetime. It’s a great story about the road to being CEO and the challenges that it can present.

If you could go back in time to the day you founded your company, what advice would you give yourself?
I’d tell myself to buckle up and get ready for the ride — it’s going to be a fulfilling and challenging adventure.

What’s something you’ve learned from building your business that someone else can learn from?
The U.S. entertainment and media industry is ~$703BN and Casting Depot is enabling the access to everyone. We’re here to challenge the status quo.

Interview with Lacey Kaelani, CEO & Co-Founder of Casting Depot

Startup Thread article by Claire Smith