3 May 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Max Ridd brings over a decade of industry experience after running a well-respected modelling agency for over 10 years. A fundamental figure in the business’s growth, Max was responsible for the reputation management and relationship building with models, actors & influencers, clients and industry professionals. Heavily involved in the day-today booking of models for global campaigns at Burberry, Porsche and Apple gave Max priceless insight into the industry’s flaws and time-consuming processes. Acknowledging this problem as an opportunity, the concept of Krowdkast unfolded. Max‘s extraordinary vision saw the idea through to a tangible concept. With an incredible network of industry professionals, Max drew upon his previous agency contacts to successfully launch Krowdkast. Responsible for the day-to-day running of Krowdkast, Max is integral to the business’ continuous innovation and expert management.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I’ve had a wealth of industry experience after running a well-respected talent agency for over 10 years. Fundamentally involved in the business’s growth, I was responsible for the reputation management and relationship building with talent, clients and industry professionals. This included the day-to-day booking of Models, Actors & Influencers for global campaigns, productions, TV commercials, shows and beyond. I booked talent for brands such as Burberry, Porsche and Apple – to name a few, which gave me invaluable insight into the industry’s flaws and time-consuming processes. Acknowledging this problem as an opportunity, the concept of Krowdkast unfolded. We saw the idea through to a tangible concept and drew upon our previous agency contacts to successfully launch Krowdkast.
Currently, I am responsible for the running of Krowdkast, including software and business development, the overarching B2B and B2C marketing strategy and seeking new investment opportunities.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Having worked in the industry for over a decade and recognizing the flaws, we saw a need for a more streamlined process when it came to casting. We were using the current industry wide casting tools, which felt outdated and inefficient. This is when we came to the realisation that the industry needed an up-to-date process and a more inclusive way of casting Models, Actors and Influencers. Casting is an integral part of the creative industry and we wanted to make this as easy as possible for everyone involved.
With a profound understanding of industry challenges, we designed Krowdkast to simplify and refine the process of casting talent across the world. Time is a constant pressure in the creative industry, which highlights the importance of having an effective search & casting platform that integrates everything seamlessly. We work to protect rates and working standards which is why all of the listed Models, Actors & Influencers are booked via accredited agencies. To summarise, we wanted to update outdated practices and build a simple platform that challenges casting inefficiencies. I’m proud to say that we are the only tech-platform in the world to launch a casting specific video-call platform – we’re like the Zoom or Hangouts of the creative world! In a recent innovation, our incredibly talented tech team has developed a software tool which live syncs information from any of our agency listings. It means that all of our talent portfolios and information is always up to date for clients, which no-other marketplace platform has integrated to date. Again, this process negates the long, monotonous process of updating everything manually – if a new model or actor is added to an agency’s books – the built in tech updates everything for us..
How did you achieve awareness?
Being a niche product, we’ve needed to bring Krowdkast to the forefront of our specific users. We’ve focused on three key areas as part of our marketing strategy. With a combined agency experience of over 30 years and strong accrual of contacts, we leveraged our network of creatives to educate and begin using Krowdkast to cast talent. To build a targeted brand awareness strategy, we also appointed Sequel to oversee a B2C and B2B marketing campaign, which included Social Media Consultation and PR Outreach. This has helped us tap into new audiences for whom our service will be beneficial. Lastly, to boost our platform, we’ve invested in some targeted paid advertising to increase visibility amongst our niche users, including Casting Directors, Photographers and Agency owners.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
The project has been self funded to date as we’ve gone from 0 to 35 agencies. We now have Krowdkast Version 2 live – which has two development stages involving the Casting Suite and the imminent launch of the Actors and Influencers space. It’s an exciting time for the business!
While we’ve had no investment yet, we are now at the stage of seeking investment to leverage growth and broaden our global reach.
What are the key successes?
We’ve grown incredibly quickly in what’s been a very challenging time for the whole industry. From launching the platform initially and getting users on board, to then proving the concept behind the brand and developing it into a seamless user-experience. Krowdkast became the world’s first video-call platform to mimic in-person castings – a huge feather in our hats! Not only did this negate the current issue of social distancing, but it also changed the future of how we cast – reducing our carbon footprint and enabling brands to cast talent from across the world.
There’s two sides to Krowdkast, the first we developed was the search platform, we went from having zero talent to having 35 agencies from across the globe who collectively represent over 6000 talent. In fact, industry professionals who have used Krowdkast, have sourced talent for campaigns with brands such as Adidas, Porsche, Sephora, Nintendo to name a few.
The second development was the virtual Casting Suite, which came as a natural addition to the platform to allow users to cast talent in one place. We only launched this last month and it’s been a great success. We’ve had really positive feedback from leading casting agents across the world using it to book talent for their shoots. There’s no better feeling than to see people using something that we built from scratch!
One of the key successes lies in the development of our unique tech feature, which no-one else currently uses. Our software gives live and accurate data from the talents websites, ensuring everything is always up to date for our users.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
I think being such a novel concept, the biggest challenge for us has been to educate people what Krowdkast is; something that we are still striving to achieve. To build confidence in the agencies to represent their talent against competitor talent, and working with agencies to develop trust in the platform has been difficult. It’s been a real domino effect, once we got the first few agencies on board, others started joining – the first few steps were definitely the most challenging. We’ve focused on organising personalised calls and timely communications to guide agencies through the process, build trust and reinforce our pro-agency approach.
Like any other business, COVID has of course been a huge challenge. Trying to launch and push a service when the creative industry has literally come to a standstill is not easy. We’ve continued to innovate and evolve, developing tools like the Casting Suite has allowed us to adapt and move forwards.
What are your plans now/for the future?
As for short term goals, we are looking at an imminent launch of Actors and Influencers on board. Our goal for 2021 is to have over 100 agencies live on Krowdkast. Ideally, our plan is for the Casting Suite to become the go-to platform for digital casting – model, actor and influencer industry – eliminating the need for Zoom and Google hangouts. Our aim is to become prominent in Europe and US while simultaneously developing Krowdkast to reach the global markets.
On the business front, our plan for now is to seek investment to take it to the next level. Our target is to raise £400k of capital for our next stage of growth and development into the US, Europe and Asia markets.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
I think the one piece of advice I’d give out is to take the initial leap. It’s better to regret doing something than regretting not doing it in the first place. The entrepreneurial journey sure is a rollercoaster – remember that the highs are incredibly high and lows very low; but it is so worth it. There is an immense sense of pride when you see something grow and you see people rely on and use the product/service you’ve developed. It is your actions that determine where your brand and your product goes.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
● If you’re a perfectionist, be a perfectionist. Be you. This is your venture, own it.
● Surround yourself with positive, determined people.
● Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help – there’s one thing being confident in your own ability, but having too much pride to seek help in area’s that are not of your expertise can see the fast demise of a venture, something that I will admit to being guilty of in the past.
● Remember to take some ‘down-time’ – Entrepreneurship is an adventure, a rollercoaster and at times it can and will be tough, learning to switch off and collect your thoughts is vital, both when times are going great and during the harder times, trying to deal with a difficult situation when you’re not in the right mindset is a definite no, no.
● Protect your venture – We live in a world where we are taught that ‘Imitation is the best form of flattery’, imitation is one thing but envy is another and if you have a great idea, others will attempt to copy it – make sure that you’re covered in this eventuality.
● Mentorship is massively underrated – I have been fortunate enough to have friends, a business partner and those that I would now even call family that I have learnt so much from, don’t ever stop learning, if you find someone that you trust, you’re close to, you can open up to no matter what and you look up to, keep them close, learn from them, listen to their advice, whether you feel it’s good advice or bad, there are others that have experienced a similar journey to what you are on, they’ll have a story to share that may well guide you on your next steps.
● Confidence – whether you’re luckily enough to be born with all of the confidence in the world, or you’re on the shyer side of things, there’s no shame either way, but just remember, the worst thing that anyone can say to you when reaching out, selling, or pushing for investment is ‘No’..some may well elaborate on the word ‘No’ of course and this can be demoralising, but remember a ‘No’ is not a ‘never’, it is just a ‘No’ from that one individual.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
● My wife – As cliche as this sounds(and I promise that I have added my wife to this list upon my own free-will), my wife has faced a barrage of personal issues over the last few years in particular, but no matter how hard things get, she gets up, pushes through and her constant determination is infectious and strives us collectively to achieve our goals.
● My business partner – Again, I can assure you that this is under my own free-will, but my business partner is a huge inspiration in my life, his approach to business and life as a whole, with the goal of success whilst not changing exactly who he is, is something that one can only aspire to achieve. I, personally, care way too much about what others think, having the business partner that I do, pays dividends when it comes to remembering to ‘be you’.
● My children – I feel that the majority of parents who double up as entrepreneurs will include their children as inspirational figures in their lives. Having children gave me immense purpose and a drive to succeed for more than just myself, they’ve created a layer of responsibility and the ‘need’ to succeed to give them the best possible life that they deserve, I get to share my successes with them and they are there when times are tough to keep me grounded and get me through.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
● It is better to regret the things that you’ve done, than the things that you haven’t.
● Today is your opportunity to build the tomorrow that you want.
● In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.
● I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary. Elon Musk
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