Hobnobbing with Weerada Sucharitkul from FilmDoo

posted by 12 months ago in Hobnobbing
Hobnobbing with Weerada Sucharitkul from FilmDoo

So, what do FilmDoo do?

FilmDoo is a global, online movie-streaming platform helping people to discover and watch great films from around the world. In many ways, we are a “TripAdvisor for film meets iTunes”, so a one-stop platform combining movie discovery with content access. A big problem right now is that you can read a film review on IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes, for example, but have no way of seeing that film and that’s where FilmDoo comes in.

What’s behind the business idea?

50,000 feature films get made every year around the world, from independent films to major international studio productions, yet so few of these get distribution outside of their own countries, many of which are award-winning films. The saddest thing for us is that so many great films are never discovered, let alone monetised. I myself have lived in ten countries across five continents so I’ve had a lot of exposure to films from around the world. When I was living in Australia as a young girl, for example, I’d watch a lot of Thai and Hong Kong films that you couldn’t find in Australia. When my father went back to Thailand, he’d come back with boxes full of twenty or thirty films on VHS. So you could say that FilmDoo had its origins way back and now we’re just taking a digital approach.

Was there a breakthrough moment?

Back in 2013, I was with my best friend and now co-founder William, who’s also a big fan of international cinema. We wanted to see this big South Korean film called Masquerade that grossed US$80 million at the Korean box office but it couldn’t be seen anywhere in the UK at the time and we didn’t understand why. So William, being a lawyer, looked into it and discovered it was actually a legal problem. The film distribution industry is one that predates the internet, it’s multi-layered and lacks transparency. In this age of digital innovation, we believe that films like these should be accessible and discoverable.

How is the company doing?

The company is growing rapidly. We launched at the Cannes Film Festival just last year and we’ve grown from 9,000 visitors a month in December to 250,000 visitors last month, with registered users from 194 countries. We’ve recently grown about 30% month-on-month in traffic and, at this rate we should be on track to hit half a million visitors per month very soon. We have over 1,000 feature films and short films available on our site. We are a truly global platform now where you can transact in multiple currencies and on PayPal. Most importantly, we have a growing, thriving global community of users, and we hope to empower them to discover films not yet available in their country and to engage with those films and ultimately to help bring them to their region.

Hobnobbing with Weerada Sucharitkul from FilmDoo

Do you have any regrets?

On this journey we’ve met a lot of people who turned out to not be as fully committed to what we’re doing and some who ended up wasting our time. So while I don’t have any regrets starting out on this journey, some mistakes have been made along the way and I regret not being more clear with my time, cutting out the negativity and those are who are not as dedicated or lack integrity, associating more with people who have achieved or share goals similar to what we’re trying to achieve, and who will really be there for us on every step of the way.  My father once said, “If you want to make a million dollars, don’t talk to someone who never made a million dollars.” So it helps to surround yourself with people who’ve done it before and can help inspire you to achieve your dream.

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

We have a very international team. We already operate across multiple locations. We also have more proprietary technology ideas we are rolling out to allow people to engage with films in new ways, and we have some very exciting technology features in the pipeline. I think what also differentiates us from competitors is that we’re not just a platform showing films, but we also truly care about filmmakers, especially emerging filmmakers from around the world. We’re trying to get these voices around the world heard and their stories told. And more than just being a film platform, more than just being a place for movie discovery, we are about bringing people together through films, helping people to learn a new language and explore new cultures. That I think is a message and a positioning that’s not really seen on other platforms.

What is your definition of a positive customer experience?

I think all contact with a customer can be a positive experience. If they’re contacting us because, for example, they couldn’t see a film, I think a positive customer experience is when you go over and beyond in a way that they don’t expect. Also, being there, making them feel that there’s a personal touch as well is important. Be it via email or social media, we want to give customers a sense that they know the people behind the team directly and there’s a personal relationship.

You’re currently reaching out for investors, what do you plan to do when you have raised this funding?

We’re currently crowdfunding on Seedrs to scale the business, to expand internationally and to further develop our proprietary technology. We have a lot of upcoming features in the pipeline that are not seen on a lot of video-on-demand sites and which we believe will allow for more innovative user engagement. We also hope to make the platform accessible on Smart TVs and multiple devices. So half of the funding will go to developing our technology and the other half will go to growing our content and to building brand awareness. FilmDoo is not just a B2C (business to consumer) company. We also have a B2B (business to business) arm, in which we’re able to supply content to other major companies. A diversified revenue stream puts us in a strong position, and the fact that we’ve had this diversified mindset from the very beginning is another thing that sets us apart from other new players.

What advice would you give yourself now if you were starting a business?

One thing I could’ve advised myself on is to spend more time finding people with the necessary missing skills to round out the team before starting on the full journey. That’s something we’re doing now, but earlier on in the journey, that was an area that we would’ve benefited from spending more time. For a number of reasons, this was a project that we launched right into and, even though we did have a business plan and clear roadmap, I think I would’ve also advised myself to maybe spend another two or three months to upskill in areas such as digital marketing. Again, this is something that we’ve worked on more since then but, right at the beginning, taking a little more time to upskill when we had the time would’ve helped us to work more efficiently when things went full speed.

Finally, Weerada what is your favourite biscuit?!

From time to time, I’ll have some Oreos or chocolate biscuits but I have to say that Jaffa Cakes are my favourite, though whether those are even biscuits are, I suppose, a whole other discussion.