You’ve heard me say over and over again that niches make for great business opportunities. In this story, you will read how an entrepreneur with deep domain knowledge in the film industry created a robust niche business.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Jason Kassin: I’m from a little town called Brooklyn, New York. I was actually born in upstate New York just by accident. It was summer and that’s where my family happened to be at that time. I came of age, from a computer standpoint, during that dawn of the personal computer era. I’ve been working in the computer world and the software world since the dawn of the personal computer era.
At the same time, I was also pursuing a career in entertainment and had a background in theater. I studied theater in college. In many ways, FilmTrack represents this union of my life to that point which had been technical and software-related on one hand and on the other hand, related to my love for film and television. I had been a writer, actor, musician. I’ve done a little bit of everything.
I initially came out to Los Angeles in the early 90’s to be in a film that my friend was directing. For a day job, I wasn’t confident enough to wait tables or park cars. You wouldn’t want me serving your food. It would be a mess. What I did on the side was software. This was the mid-90’s. I was writing software for film companies, which was the inspiration and origin for what eventually became FilmTrack.
My life to that point was a combination of pursuing a creative side in terms of film and television and a technical side in terms of software. Going further back, my father was much older. He skipped the generation. He actually passed away in 1980. He was a World War 2 vet. If he were alive now, he’d be 97 years old. He got me interested in electronics. I was really into Hamm radio. The Hamm radio thing is what led to me to computers. In many ways, it was the initial getting into the world of electronics that pivoted me to an interest in computers.
Sramana Mitra: What year does that bring us up to when you were hanging out in LA writing software for film companies?
Jason Kassin: 1995. I was acting and writing. At that time, I started working for a film company that wanted to solve a particular problem that became the core of what FilmTrack became. It was to know what films they had licensed to whom all over the world. They wanted to be able to track what they had sold to whom for how much. More critically, what they had available to resell. In other words, looking at this library of content and to be able to say, “What have I not sold in Germany? What have I not licensed in India for pay-per-view?” Answering those questions about my library allows me to then maximize the return on the library.