Friday, January 3, 2014
How Laudville Is Bringing Your Entertainment Life Together
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
In the world of many online television, movie, and video sites, scores of music streaming services, and other entertainment content, it's often a difficult task to find what you really want to watch, listen to, or read. How do you aggregate all that together in one package? One new, Los Angeles startup--Laudville (www.laudville.com)--recently launched its service to try to tackle that huge task, of bringing your content together. Phoebe B. Scott is the founder of Laudville, and sat down with us to talk about her startup and the startup experience, and why she moved here to Los Angeles specifically to pursue her startup dreams.
What is Laudville?
Phoebe Scott: I started Laudville, because I consume a lot of entertainment of all kinds. I was a lawyer in Chicago, watching a lot of stuff online, looking for new stuff to watch, or read, or listen to online. I kept thinking that someone would eventually come up with a hub or place you could do everything--a home page, for example, where if you were going on a trip, and you could easily load your iPad full of stuff automatically. That would be movies that were best for me, what music albums I should download. I noticed that there are places you can do all of that, but they're all different. You have Genius on iTunes, NetFlix's recommended movies, Facebook or Twitter. But, by the time you go to all of those sites, you have dozens of tabs open. It's a very fractured process. I was looking for something more streamlined. I had hoped someone would streamline the entertainment industry and create a home base for all this stuff, but as I started reading more and more about the tech industry, I though--why not try this myself? So, I started working on it. Instead of waiting for someone else to fix my own problem, I thought I might as well give it a shot. We're now in beta, and are incorporating services like iTunes, Amazon, and Hulu, and will be incorporating more (this) year. We've already integrated Twitter and Facebook, and our product is in its earliest MVP, and it's now out there. We've got a really great group testing it, and we're excited to add more service next year based on feedback.
You were in Chicago; did you move here to work on this?
Phoebe Scott: I started this in Chicago, as a side project while I was still practicing law. After we alpha tested an early version of this, I decided I really wanted to pursue it, and pursue it as a full scale product. I quit my job and decided to move here. Everyone thinks of Northern California as the place to do anything technology related, but for unique power users and entertainment enthusiasts like me, you realized that entertainment--my first love--is in Southern California. That's why I moved here. There's also a lot of other interesting and complimentary products coming out in Southern California, with many really cool things in the same sector. It's been a really good move.
You're trying to tackle everything from movies, to music, to books. Is it a challenge to cover so much?
Phoebe Scott: It is. When we first alpha tested this, we just had watchable entertainment, movies and TV, many of them popping up in second screen apps. However, we found that people really want more than that, and that it didn't solve the problem. They want a place to organize everything, something like a closed system like Pinterest. If you look at what Pinterest does for anything design related, it's not just fashion, it's not just design, it's not just DIY, it's everything. At first, it sounds like a lot, but different people can use it for what they want. We've made it so people can customize us to only turn on movies and TV, and don't have to see anything with music and books, for example. You can make the experience smaller if you want. But, for a lot of people, it's the place to organize all your stuff. Now that entertainment is digital now, you can keep it in one place, and it's nice to have the option to have it all together. It is a challenge with lots of services to integrate, but it's a totally do-able challenge.
What's the business model behind this?
Phoebe Scott: Right now, we're affiliates of other sites that we work with, such as iTunes and Hulu. Each of them has different programs, but we get four to ten percent of a sale. That's not the big business model, but it's nice as it means from the day you launch you are able to bring in revenue, and you're not waiting until you have ten million users to figure out how to make money. The rest of the model will include things like customized marketing and advertising in a more focused way, all about entertainment. An example of this, is you might look up the Hobbit book, and see that the Hobbit II is out in theaters, and that there's a time it's playing near you, and we can ask you if you want to buy a ticket. We hope the advertising will be much more considerate of users, helping them on their mission, and so that it can help you achieve something, consumer or acquire something, or watch something.
How has it been switching from the legal field to running a startup?
Phoebe Scott: For me, it's been a combination of two things that were really lacking in my legal job, which I wanted, and are really important for me in a career. One is it's much more social. Being an entrepreneur, and definitely in the early stages, you're going out, and meeting people, and becoming part of a community, meeting other, like-minded people, and sharing ideas. That's a huge part of it. It's not the stereotype of holing up in an office or garage and just working on your startup. It's being part of a community, really getting to know people in the space, and the more you work together with others the better. I love that. That's also one of the things I really love about Los Angeles.
The only place I can compare it with is Chicago. Here, it's much younger, and much different. I've found it to be a very open community, where people know what other people are doing, where it's easy to get around, and to get to know other people, and to become part of something.
The other part of this is the creativity. You might think becoming a lawyer you'd do lots of problem solving. But, in the beginning, in a law firm you're doing mostly nitty gritty reading and research. Now, I get to spend all of my time coming up with creative solutions to problems. That's particularly true when you're early in a startup and you're bootstrapped from friends and family. You not only get to come up with creative solutions, but you have to be creative, budget-wise, which makes it exciting and really fun.
What's the next big thing for you?
Phoebe Scott: The really big thing we'd like to get going in 2014 is mobile. When we started this, we were a web-based platform, because that's what made the most sense when we started. Now, we see that over fifty percent of our users are accessing us from mobile devices. That's a general trend in the industry. Before, people would sit down to watch Netflix at their desktop. That's not true now. People are watching shows and reading books on their mobile phones. That's changed and we have to adapt and change with it. We've got a lot of ideas and plans for our mobile experience, which we're starting to work on.
Thanks, and good luck!