By Chris Kay

Last year I wrote a post talking about how artists are taking a page out of the startup playbook by not only leveraging technology to be disruptive, but adopting startup industry practices like music incubators and AngelList for film. Given my passion for both art and startups (here is the Art/Tech collective I founded Aleph X, and the web series I’m producing Belushi’s Toilet) I couldn’t help but pick up on this convergence trend at SXSW.

A Startup Influenced by Art: SlugBooks

I met David Miller at a morning meet up for web series filmmakers, the funny thing was he runs the San Francisco based tech startup SlugBooks, an aggregator of online textbook pricing, or the Kayak of textbooks. Now, if you’re thinking textbook pricing obviously has nothing to do with web series or art in general, you’re right. But in 2012, after growth plateaued David began a rebranding and redesign strategy with the goal of kickstarting growth, and giving the website more personality. David did some Tumblr and deviantART sleuthing and found internet comic illustrator Domics, who agreed to design characters to be mascots as part of the website’s new look. David used principles of emotional design to disarm students from their rightfully negative feelings about purchasing textbooks, and build a sense of trust with his customers, causing them to become repeat customers three times a year for four years of university. The new look gave SlugBooks instant growth based on the inviting and unique design that had nothing to do with ecommerce. SlugBooks made buying textbooks a little more fun.

In December 2013, SlugBooks took their artistic influence a step further and started producing a weekly animated web series called Suite Sisters based on the website’s comic mascots. The series has had 1.1 million views and their channel has almost 16,000 subscribers.

Read SlugBooks Founder David Miller’s article on incorporating emotional design into their rebranding process.

Run Your Film Like a Startup: Dogfish Accelerator

I attended a session hosted by New York based Dogfish Accelerator co-founder James Belfer, called Run Your Film Like a Startup. The panel was a mix of filmmakers like Mynette Louie and Ryan Koo who are using startup principles like beta testing, customer data, and community building to make their films more successful, and startup entrepreneurs like Ryan Delk and Matthew Hooper who were building platforms to allow content creators to reach more audiences and sell films.

Dogfish has repurposed the traditional tech accelerator model to back six to eight independent films per cohort with $18,000 in seed capital and a mentor network. They even have a demo day, were the production team pitch their project to investors, production companies, sales agents and distributors.

I find this sharing and interaction between artists and entrepreneurs so exciting, and I think it will only lead to better, more uniquely positioned startups with great brands and customers who love them, as well as great content and more artists finding success in their craft.


Read Chris’ previous articles


Chris Kay is a Financial Analyst, Co-founder of Multiplicity, and the Founder of Aleph X, a collective of Entrepreneurs, Technologists and Artists experimenting on creative projects at the intersection of entrepreneurship and art. Chris writes the blog Creative Convergence where he discusses the Intersection of Film, Music and Technology. Follow him on Twitter – @ChrisJKay