Navatej Kumar of Crafter, Inc tells us about building project management solutions for original programming.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Navatej Kumar: We are all safe. Thanks for asking.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Crafter, Inc.
Navatej Kumar: I am a 3X entrepreneur who is trying to make it big this time. A computer science undergraduate and a product guy.
I have been in the entertainment space since 2013. I started my first business in the entertainment space. We used to provide services for upcoming movie artists like conducting workshops to upgrade their skills, networking events, and short film fests. It helped them launch their ideas.
During these years, I learned the age-old practices of the movie industry, which are mostly people-oriented, are inefficient. Since no efficient tech is out there, these practices take more time, costs additional money, and are error-prone.
For example, casting projects are mostly managed by casting directors. They use social media, emails, and spreadsheets for making artist entries, communicating, and reviewing their performances during auditions. This whole process is time-consuming, expensive, and often error-prone. This can be very easily managed by a powerful tech( Paperless entries, Video auditions, updates, and even onboarding artists with one easy-to-use web app).
After seeing the value, I thought about building a tech. Because tech reaches millions of artists. To validate my hypothesis, I’ve interviewed around 300 artists and 50 studios. They said, “Have you got a casting tool? Do you have a marketplace for resources? Can your software generate call sheets? “You’ve all these, yes?” I said, “No, not really.” And they said, “We need all of these”
That’s how I figured it out. I started with a checklist of all the tools /apps studios and film crews needed to have in order to increase their productivity. I’ve decided to offer all the apps like G Suite. An app for a different use case and offer everything as a package.
I have domain expertise in building technologies, product development, and operations, and directly engaging with independent artists in the age range of 20 to 35
How does Crafter, Inc innovate?
Navatej Kumar: Web TV series or movies produced for OTTs are judged by their novelty in scripts and treatment. But how can studios create the next F.R.I.E.N.D.S?
Crafter surveyed around 300 artists and 50 studios to find out. Here’s what they had to say. Indie filmmakers and studios reported that successful projects are created:
1)Their entire focus should be on creative processes like discussing ideas, scripts, and storyboards
2)Collaborating with young and talented artists
3)Automating mundane tasks like casting, call sheets, contracts, and communication, etc. to save time and money and invest them in where it’s required
This shows that artists see the bigger picture on how to tell great stories that entertain the world: by focusing on ideas and investing time in creative processes, not managing mundane tasks.
With our suite of productivity apps, we can take care of these mundane tasks, including pre and post-production services letting artists and film crews focus on creating better original content.
There hasn’t been a focused effort towards solving these needs to date. Artists, film crews, and studios mostly depend on people, Microsoft Word, spreadsheets, email, social media, and WhatsApp, etc. These channels are inefficient.
This results in additional costs and more time because their focus is deviated and spending time and money where it can be automated. We are solving it.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Navatej Kumar: We create software for the movie industry. This is an industry severely affected by the pandemic due to people staying inside rather than filming.
I worked out a bridge loan with friends. This extra time also enabled me to clear some existing hurdles.
“Companies like ours are saving the little money we have.” “It turned out to be a good thing for me to hold back and be able to come out with a more positive story.”
Fundraising was so difficult.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Navatej Kumar: We were and always stayed lean.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Navatej Kumar: No
Your final thoughts?
Navatej Kumar: Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.