Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Why Warner Bros. Is Tapping Into The World Of Technology Startups
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
If you're a large, Hollywood studio, how do you tap into the energy and ideas of the startup community? Warner Bros. has figured out one way -- which is to run a startup accelerator, Warner Media Camp (www.mediacamp.com)--which pulls a class of startups into the company for an intense, twelve week program every year, and helps those companies tap into the resources of the studio. We caught up with Debra Baker, Senior Vice President, Global Business Development at Warner Bros., to hear about how the program is both helping the studio tap into the energy and ideas of the startup community, as well as helping those startups find new customers in the media and entertainment business.
For those not familiar with s Warner Media Camp, what is it all about?
Debra Baker: Warner Media Camp is our internally run, media and entertainment focused program for early stage startups. We select companies from an application process , and they join us for a twelve week program of workshops, mentoring, and business meetings in order to create value in our businesses, and also accelerate process for them.
How long have you been doing this?
Debra Baker: We started this program last year. Our sister company, Turner, began Media Camp San Francisco in 2012. When we saw the great success that they were doing, we started our own program in 2013. This is our second class, and it culminates in this Demo Day we just had.
What's your big goal for the program?
Debra Baker: At its core, we are trying to identify companies that are working to create platforms and products that serve our content in better ways, that engage consumers around our content, that enable more enhanced experience for our content, and also to develop relationships with entrepreneurs and technology talent, so they'll come back and work with us, so we can innovate in our businesses.
What attracted you about these particular companies?
Debra Baker: We have a number of areas which we had identified as areas where we could see growth, where we could see opportunity, where we saw there were challenges to solve. These companies were each offering a product or platform that really addressed one of those areas.
Are you going to do this again?
Debra Baker: Yes, we're planning to run another program next year. We started at the beginning of the year with the application process, and our program typically runs from May through August.
Is there an investment in companies related to the program?
Debra Baker: For all the Media Camp companies, we make a very small investment. It's a $20,000 dollar investment, and basically gets those companies through the twelve weeks of the program. Our goal is really not about the investment, it's about helping raise the value of those startups, and do that by conducting pilots within our business units, and introducing them around the industry. We want them to work with everyone. If we see value in them, they're probably valuable to the industry at large.
You're a very big organization, where does this effort fit in and what piece of the studio are those startups touching?
Debra Baker: Actually, amazingly, they are meeting with all of our business units. Our program runs across the whole studio. I run a business development team which is across the studio, so in my regular business my clients are all of the business units, trying to bring new business opportunities into every part of the company. These companies had an opportunity and amazing access to wherever their company or product had a fit for our businesses.