Venture Mirror In Conversation with Lacey and Jenna of Casting Depot
Casting Depot is a one of a kind market place for creators and talents. It is an exclusive community that allows creators and talents to engage and source gigs. The platform aims to connect talents with casting directors, giving them the experience they deserve out of a casting platform. Casting Depot offers an end-to-end solution for all forms of casting. Venture Mirror in a little chit chat with the two founders, Lacey Kaelani and Jenna Kammo, learns more about the venture and the story behind it!
What is the startup/product about? Give us a brief description of it.
Jenna: Casting Depot is a professional network for creators to source and engage with every type of talent. 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 production and talent agnostic in the entertainment industry.
How many co-founders are there? Please introduce them and their backgrounds.
Jenna and Lacey
Lacey Kaelani – Co-Founder
Jenna Kammo – Co-Founder
Brad Larson – Co-Founder, CTO
Lacey: Lacey: In 2018, we had both been at a point in our careers where we were tired of working for other people. I absolutely hated developing concepts that I wasn’t passionate about, nor made a positive impact on the people that viewed them. Jenna, on the other hand, hated casting for other people and the inefficiencies within the casting process. We were on set one day and had the typical startup conversation of “I think we can do this better and for ourselves”. We ended up leaving our full-time jobs and voilá! Casting Depot was born.
How big is the entire team currently?
Jenna: The tech team is the pulse of our business, led by our CTO Brad Larson who is supported by the ever-talented designer Josh Rawlings and coder-extraordinaire Austin Quinn. We’re a small but mighty team!
How did you come up with the idea? What motivated you to do this?
Lacey: Over the course of 2019, Jenna and I cast for Fortune500 companies such as Hearst Media, Bustle Digital Group, HGTV, MTV, and more.
At the end of 2019, we decided to pivot our business. We were consistently frustrated with the casting workflow process and needed a more efficient way of booking talent for our gigs. So – we decided to turn our casting company into what it is now – an online marketplace for creators (like ourselves) and talent to engage and source gigs. We have an incredible team now, including our CTO Brad Larson.
What are the marketing plans apart from the product hunt/beta list launch? How are you planning to acquire new users?
Jenna: As Lacey and I have bootstrapped the platform with funds from our unscripted casting & development company. We’ve had to be tactful in how we budget for acquiring users! We’re planning some exciting & strategic brand-partnerships, exclusive castings and encompassing the payroll process.
What is your target market? Why do you think your product will appeal to?
Lacey: When we went to create Casting Depot, we were eager to construct a foundation to support not only the professionals that cast, but also the talent that so desperately needed a reliable marketplace to book every type of gig. It’s such a massive, decentralized market ($5BN) that we knew we had to build something that would also give users the ability to create their own communities within our own. We dreamt of conversation bubbles in every type of casting — Broadway actors, aspiring TV personalities, experts that wanted to be on CNBC, etc. That was our first priority. So — we ultimately ended up building that infrastructure so our industry could choose how they’d want to cast and create.
As casting directors, Jenna and I knew we needed to incorporate a space for casting professionals to complete their entire workflow process from end-to-end. Lastly, we’re talent agnostic meaning that unscripted, scripted, theater, voice, modeling and commercial casting calls live on our platform.
Do you have a separate dedicated team to take care of marketing (digital marketing/traditional marketing)? Which digital platforms are you focusing more on?
Jenna: We’ve been fortunate enough to have grown our business thus far without paying for any marketing or advertisements. It’s been Lacey, myself… and a lot of elbow grease!
What according to you is the biggest challenge that you faced? Is it product development or marketing or scaling or … ?
Lacey: Our biggest challenge has been incorporating user feedback quickly. We’re lucky enough that our users are consistently giving feedback which allows to build a better product. However, we’re a small team wearing many hats! Standby on V2 of beta over the next two weeks.
Who are your competitors/alternatives? What sets you apart from them?
Jenna: We’re a disruptor in the pre-production space. The reason we set out to build this platform is because of the inefficiencies within the casting space. We’re constantly challenging ourselves to create the best experience for our talent users and improving the workflow for our creators.
What are the future plans with the product/startup? Any new features you are planning on?
Lacey: We’re planning on encompassing the entire HR/payroll system, alongside our booking abilities, which has yet to exist in our industry. Aside being able to book talent for castings, casting directors will also be able to pay talent, but also be able to send standardized legal documents to talent to sign before shoot day. Lastly, we’re building out an awesome functionality that’ll allow casting professionals to book their next freelance gig with a production gig or network.