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Our early adopters are the key to success

Monday, March 11, 2024

The Creative Database received Film & TV Lindholmen's innovation support in 2023, to develop a platform that connects creative freelancers with the film industry. We caught up with the creators of the project to hear more about their challenges, lessons learned and goals.

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What is The Creative Database?

- The Creative Database is a platform that aims to connect creative freelancers with project managers and producers and vice versa. Our promise is to create "Frictionless Creative Matchmaking" on a local and global level. A place to broaden your network, work and create projects together.

Who are you in the company and what are your backgrounds?

John Petersson - co-founder / CEO + New Business/Sales - 20 years of experience as a film producer in content/advertising + sales in the agency & film production world 

Tim Winter - co-founder / CMO & product lead - 20 years of experience as a film director and editor in content/advertising/storytelling + creative director in the agency & film production world

Erik Edhagen - co-founder / Tech Lead - 15 years of experience in software development, project management and innovation for local and global players in the creative industries.

What is behind the idea of ​​the Creative Database?

- Throughout our professional career, we have always had difficulty finding new talent outside of our immediate network. Considering that 100's of really talented individuals come out of school every year or join the freelance industry in general, it felt strange that we never encountered them in our everyday working lives. We only used the same people, or had a hard time finding the ones we were looking for when we needed someone special.

- The industry has ended up in a place that communicates through scattered and disconnected Facebook groups on a global scale or on freelance job sites, where creativity is not really valued and the lowest price shines brightly. If these don't work, you spend days or hours trying to find someone who knows someone who then turns out to be unavailable. A lot of wasted hours which in the end just means we work with the same people all the time, regardless of whether they are right for the job or not. Most of the people we spoke to are desperate to escape these groups and be part of a better alternative. One that values ​​creativity and connection.

The project has previously received Lindholmen's development support for innovative actors. How have you used the funds and in what way does "The Creative Database" fulfill a function today in the audiovisual media market?

- Creative Database is fundamentally an innovation-focused project, and that is why we went to Lindholmen Science Park for support. We felt that this was where the understanding of the combination of audiovisual media and technological innovation existed. One area of ​​innovation that we focused on early on was our natural language AI model: ASK THE DATABASE, a feature that has received a lot of interest and creates what we want to achieve with the database: Frictionless Creative Matchmaking. This is a big problem in the industry, the lack of connectivity and easy networking.

The function is based on the fact that you can use the database as a Creative Assistant and ask all kinds of questions about assembling your creative team, getting inspiration, finding collaboration partners, or the next job. An example could be: “Hello, I have a client who wants a brand film for his corporate communication. It must be completed within the next 2 months. We need a full film crew, video editors and preferably a project manager who can oversee this, and who are available within this timeframe.”

From here, the database will begin to break down what this prompt means regarding searchable metrics and data. If you're looking for a certain style, it can also read users' photos and suggest creators based on "artistic merit". For example, photographers with food pictures or illustrators with a childish style, etc.

The future of the site is to utilize members' availability and calendar-specific needs, and collect image data from portfolios and also who has worked with whom before. Our goal is to create a rich and up-to-date tapestry of metrics that connects the right team/people with the right project. All the research we've done predicts that with a hyper-connected industry where you easily find yourself outside your own small network, more work will flow, professionals' networks will widen, and the idea of ​​working with new people will be less intimidating. 

What does the upcoming work look like?

- Right now it's a balance between increasing membership (both supply and demand) and features that create "retention", value and collect great searchable data that creates accurate matches. A key factor for us is creating jobs. We are looking towards Spotify where you pay an "all access fee" to a platform, where all functions and all value creation go towards widening networks that create work and unexpected collaborations, as well as a place where you as a creator stand on the same level as an employer . We want to create a level playing field where both sides of the coin are equally respected and seen.

- Today Creative Database has over 1000 users and about 10 companies that have joined, and it is growing bigger every day. We get about 1-2 inquiries a day from companies wondering how they can join, so the growth is good.

What do you see as the biggest challenges with the project at the moment?

The big challenges are to get our key areas around business, marketing and development to grow together and in sync. The difficult thing is that we are building something that will require people who are set in their ways of working to dare to shake them and adopt a new way of working. A way of working that they demand, but which it is difficult to envision before it is fully developed and ready. 

What have been the biggest lessons from the work so far?

- Our early adopters are the key to our success. Whether it comes from the creative side of things or the buying side. This is where we get deep engagement, honesty and feedback. They are the basis for our growing presence on social and communication channels. From a startup perspective, that word is: “value”. Every decision we make is guided by the value we add. Whether it's functions to develop, business models, or external communication - it's this question that brings results.

- Another lesson is that you have to put your ego aside, close your eyes and really listen to your users - and of course "pivot" on your ideas if necessary. It can be really difficult. From the value we offer and the vision we express, we have received many messages from people who want to work for us and help with the project. They see the value in the project so clearly, and understand that it is a project in early development, but despite this, they are very keen to be involved. As a result, we are now seven people. It is when the users themselves want to promote, sell and develop the project that you understand that you are on the right track.

When is the goal for "The Creative Database" to be finished and ready to be used?

- We have a "road map" of eight months that we are working towards. In two, or three months we will open up the site again to more SMEs and freelancers with the key features in place. Until then, we have a waiting list. During the period of three to eight months, parallel to the opening and release of key functions, we will develop more functions together with the users in our "early adopters" group. The goal is to be able to develop the platform globally.