Interview with Tom Raffe, founder of Screenburn –  a Video on Demand platform for music and film


Screenburn is a Facebook Video on Demand (VOD) platform for music and film, providing an alternative distribution model for anyone, from big studios and labels to independents. We talk to founder of the London-based startup,Tom Raffe.

How does Screenburn work?
A white label app sits on the existing Facebook page of a film or music artist and the owner can then sell video content direct to their fans.

What makes Screenburn unique?
Content owners may have thousands, even millions of fans online. Screenburn helps to monetize this audience and create additional revenue streams. We engage other potential fans through Facebook’s sharing functionality, actively supporting content owners to find new fans rather than rely solely on organic growth. This levels the playing field for anyone looking to distribute video content online. If you have an engaged audience, you can successfully provide them with your video content directly.

Can you share a specific story that illustrates your value for your user base?
We’ve recently been working with the Birds Eye View Festival, which spotlights the work of female filmmakers. Our app enabled people to watch key films at the most recent festival. This is a great example of providing niche content to an online audience who may not have had the opportunity to see it during a limited screening. The films, the filmmakers and the festival were able to grow their audience.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m the founder and director and previously worked in advertising at Microsoft. I had the idea for Screenburn when I wanted to see an independent film, only to find it wasn’t playing outside London. I thought a direct-to-fan distribution solution could work well and later left Microsoft to start Screenburn.

Have you received seed funding or other funding?
We recently announced $500,000 in angel investment as well as board appointment of high profile industry figures including Zodiak Rights Chief Executive Steve Macallister and Arts Alliance Media CEO Howard Kiedaisch.

What are the ingredients of your success so far, and how will you build on this?
To this point, it’s been about finding the right sort of content. Some of the entertainment brands we’ve worked with such as Katy Perry, Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones have well-established audiences, but independent features can also work well from a conversion point of view due to their engaged fan base.We will continue to focus on finding the right content and providing opportunities for content owners to build viewership online and offer their fans added value every step of the way.  Intellectual property is also something we have to keep in the back of our minds constantly as we deal with other people’s content. We work closely with our own lawyers and the studio legal teams in order to ensure the copyrighted film is going to be protected properly for all parties involved.

What advice would you give to other startups or entrepreneurs just starting out?
Network. Many don’t manage to network enough as it can be very time consuming and startups are typically focusing on other priorities in the early stages. In London there are places like TechHub, The Hub, and Innovation Warehouse. Word spreads. Because I spent a lot of time networking, I was introduced to Screenburn’s lead investor, who then made introductions to further investors.

To find out more about Screenburn, click here to visit their website.

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