CreatorUp is the online web series school teaching the next generation of web series creators how to make and market their own new video projects on the web. Aspiring creators learn by connecting with top web filmmakers and YouTubers on a topics specific to the web: developing a web series, producing web series, writing for genres like comedy & sci-fi, directing, editing, camera, Kickstarter funding, show hosting, distribution, and marketing. Learning experience includes: on-demand online video tutorial courses, live video-conference workshops, as well as individual online consultations, live workshops, and group programs.
TechZulu caught up with the founder Mike Tringe and this is what he told us.
When was it launched and where?
CreatorUp was launched online in Beta in January of 2013 and our startup team is based in Los Angeles.
Who are its founders?
Mike Tringe earned his BA in History and Science from Harvard, and his MFA in Film Production from USC. He’s worked as an English and Film teacher at the American School of Tangier, and has also assistant taught film production at USC. Following graduate school, he worked in Film Finance and Sales at CAA, Creative Development at Vuguru (Michael Eisner’s multi-platform studio), and Content Partnerships at Blip Networks.
Sara Akhteh received her BA in Film Theory from UCSC and her MFA from USC in Production. Sara coordinated the summer film school at USC, which included such programs as: Bill Cosby’s inner-city youth program, and the Universal and WB backlot programs. Sara has also worked in department coordinating/management, accounting, and talent recruitment on such films as Social Network, Water for Elephants, In Time, Snow White and the Huntsman, Dark Shadows, as well as in the finance department at Sony Pictures.
Our combined experience working in film education and inside the traditional and digital entertainment industry gives us unique insight into building an authentic “film school like” education on the web. And our network of filmmaker and entertainment industry colleagues allow us to recruit top teachers who are leaders in the web world.
Mike’s work in sales, marketing, distribution, and business development is essential to customer acquisition, growth, and scalability. Sara’s expertise in production and course curriculum programming gives her insight into customer and content development, production workflow, infrastructure, and user experience. Our third partner, Hugh Hou, is a Cornell/Ithaca grad who has five years of experience in e-commerce and marketing, as well as a UX/design background with expertise in e-learning.
What inspired you?
We were inspired to start CreatorUp by our USC classmates who were breaking out in their careers in the digital space by making original web series or working on digital projects, and and we wanted to help create an affordable and accessible solution for other creators to learn how to make and market their own original content.
How does it work?
Creators can take any course of interest on-demand by purchasing it through our website. They can also participate in free hangouts or live-streams to learn directly from teachers and each other. We recently started a pilot program where students enroll in a “course series” where they learn how to make a web series in 10 weeks by following a guided course experience, which involves taking six full video tutorial courses and participating in six hangouts. Students can also attend live local workshops or consult with individual teachers directly at a higher price point.
Take us through your features?
Right now, we offer seven live video tutorial courses, and we hope to roll out 25 by the end of 2013. We also host video-conferences with students who want to learn specific topics around web video.
Here are the live course descriptions:
- How to Build a YouTube Channel into a Business: Have a got YouTube channel that you want to take to the next level? Learn how to turn your channel into a business from Mitchel Dumlao, who runs Strife.tv, a B-Boy channel on YouTube with 30M Views.
- How to Plan Your Production: Need help producing your web series? Learn how to practically produce it from Steven Wasserman and Victor Solis, co-creators of the Generic Girl web series.
- How to Develop and Pitch Your Web Series: Want to show off your talent by making a web series as your calling card? Learn how from Mark Gantt, the co-creator and star of the slick web series hit “The Bannen Way” on Sony Crackle.
- How to Crack the Kickstarter Code: Using Kickstarter to fund your next project? Learn best practices to hit your goal from Justin Massion, marketing director of Space Command, a top ten Kickstarter campaign that raised $221,267 with 2,965 backers.
- How to Get Your First 10,000 Views: Need to find the audience for your new show? Learn how to get your first 10,000 views from Brian Rodda, the marketing mind behind the original hit web series “Husbands.”
- How to Distribute and Cash In On Your Web Series: Got a web series, but not sure how to distribute it? Learn how to get it seen and monetized from Mike Tringe, previously of Blip Networks and Vuguru, Michael Eisner’s multi-platform studio.
- How to Build YouTube Subscribers: Do you have a YouTube channel, but want to build a loyal following? Learn how to build up your subscriber base from Filmmaker/YouTuber Matt Koval who has built 130K+ Subscribers on his Comedy Channel.
How many users so far so far?
We have 2,000+ users signed up for our Beta.
What is your business model?
The business model is to sell courses and programs to consumers at specific price points on demand, and to later partner with schools, networks, or businesses to offer the library of courses as an enterprise solution to learn web video best practices and content strategies. We may roll out a subscription model in the future once we have a larger course library and that makes more sense.
Any competition in LA?
Our closest direct competitor is not based in LA, and does not have the level of course quality, teacher caliber, or digital entertainment industry relevance that we do. They are also much more focused on teaching just skills, whereas we are focused on teaching how to make projects for specific platforms and purposes.
Our closest indirect competitors are Creative and Lynda. Neither is based specifically in LA – and neither is focusing specifcially on web video content creation and promotion as we are with our approach to project based learning, but both have strong proven business models that work around a small but passionate group of online students learning new skills in the arts, ranging from 250K – 1Million.
Other competitors include free services like Vimeo Film School and YouTube channels like FilmRiot or Video Co-Pilot, however our platform has a wider variety of content and a higher level of expertise. Indirect competitors include specialized sites like Animation Mentor (specific to animation). Finally, broader online education sites like Udemy and AppSumo offer only a few courses on using video basics effectively.
How unique are you from them?
CreatorUp focuses specifically teaching how to make and market web video, so our curriculum and teachers are unique – but so is our process. Our platform and courses are built on a project based learning philosophy, so all of our courses have a roadmap to help you complete a web series or video project. We also offer a hybrid model learning experience including: video tutorials, online workshops, consultations, guided course programs, and live classes – which allow different customer profiles to enjoy different levels of experience at different price points.
It’s less of a McDonald’s approach to online education where you can only order what’s on the menu, and more of a sit down restaurant experience where you can customize your own learning experience. Maybe you come in to buy a cup of coffee (a free video conference), and end up staying for the full three course meal (a video tutorial course), and meet the chefs who made your food (a consultation or live workshop), or even talk to other people eating with you and get back into the kitchen to start making your own meal with some help from the chefs (a guided program).
A typical experience might be: you hear about a free live lab happening on Google Hangout, so you sign up, post your question on the blog, get feedback from the teacher that you love, take their video tutorial, do a consultation with the teacher, and then join a full program which is guided by a teacher where you make your own project. That’s a complete and powerful experience which has also helped us to grow quickly.
Our competitive edge includes our high quality team of expert teachers with robust media backgrounds and specific areas of expertise. Teachers will be working media professionals with USC MFA degrees in film production, active YouTubers with a large subscriber base, and digital content distribution experts working in digital media.
Our live interactive collaborative laboratory classroom format will stand out from the standard video lecture series and webinars at other online schools. Also, our focus on digital distribution will help to set us apart from other online schools. Our emphasis on “product” rather than “certificates and degrees” more accurately reflects the nature of the media industry, and if participants will be able to leverage the value that they gain more immediately in programs that are more process and exercise based.
Finally, our flexible pricing plans will be more attractive to participants who wish to focus on a particular track or area than the “all or nothing” experiences offered by top tier programs and other quality online platforms.
Any funding yet?
We are boot-strapped, so no funding yet although we have interested sources and we are already making profit.
Our biggest challenge will be rolling out to more users quickly, but we are working on some exciting partnerships to be able to help us to do that.
Any upcoming developments?
We recently launched our first “Make It!” Program which is detailed in our latest blogpost here