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Building a Robust Niche Business: FilmTrack CEO Jason Kassin (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Oct 24th 2017

Jason Kassin: The ability to record all your distribution agreements in film and television was the genesis of FilmTrack. That has changed dramatically since even the mid 90’s. There was not any such thing as streaming back then. The notion of the business was distributing content to various mediums and territories, various languages and channels, and being able to record the terms of those arrangements. It’s almost like an inventory system, but it’s a multidimensional inventory. I was doing that at the same time that I was  writing.

The real story of how FilmTrack really took off is, I was doing these things for one or two customers. The folks that I was working with said that they’d like me to help them start a company. They would fund me. I said, “I wanted to be a writer. I don’t want to do this full-time.”

Within a day’s time, my wife called me and said she was pregnant. Then my agent called that there’s going to be a big writer’s strike and I might not work again for a while. I had a panic attack. I called my brother and said, “I wrote this software that everybody seems to like. There’s going to be a big strike, and I may not have any money anymore. Why don’t we see if you can sell it and we’ll see what’s what.”

A few things happened. My brother was able to start selling it very quickly. Within a few months, we had a handful of clients. The other was there was no writer’s strike that year. I ended up continuing to write. For several years of FilmTrack, we didn’t have to take on capital. I was able to reverse this, where my creative ambitions were yielding me money that I was using to fund my job.

Sramana Mitra: It’s amazing actually.

Jason Kassin: Around 2005, there really was a writer’s strike. At that point, I decided to retire at the ripe old age of 30 from writing. People said, “That sounds so radically different – writing software and writing screenplays.” As much as I enjoy screenwriting, my peers in that space have since then been nominated for Academy Awards and have done phenomenal things.

Even amongst my friends, I wasn’t the best in the world. I wanted to be doing something where my contribution would be the best in the world. I felt that was FilmTrack. I felt it was a disservice not to pursue that. Around 2005 is when my brother and I got focused on turning FilmTrack into a real commercial pursuit and really started expanding the software offering.

We made an early decision to pivot to a SaaS platform and to go online. That enabled us to scale. We were able to build a good company by bootstrapping it. We were not focusing on sales and not being formal in our approach.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Building a Robust Niche Business: FilmTrack CEO Jason Kassin
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