An exclusive interview with Tanner Wadsworth, CEO of Streamlette. Tanner is an advertising creative, screenwriter and entrepreneur. After graduating Brigham Young University in 2017 with a degree in communications, He accepted a role at VML as a copywriter. His experience there building brands like Gatorade and Tropicana—combined with his lifelong passion for cinema—led him to launch Streamlette, a unique video streaming platform for independent films. He currently serves as the CEO.
Tanner, Tell us about yourself?
Where to start? I grew up milking cows on an Idaho farm. After seeing my math scores, disappointed teachers encouraged me to give the arts a try. I blossomed into an advertising copywriter, but I still think I’d be an astronaut right now if they’d left me in Gifted and Talented class. I’m passionate about indie film, Kurt Vonnegut and that corn salsa stuff you get at Chipotle.
How did you find your idea or concept for the business?
In college, I hosted a popular film podcast. I would go to the Sundance Festival and interview filmmakers about their projects. Over time it became clear that everyone I interviewed faced the same problems as they tried to get their films in front of audiences.
Big video platforms like Netflix and Hulu have shifted their business models from buying content to producing their own. Amazon is accessible, but it keeps cutting royalties for filmmakers. It’s never been harder to get indie films into theaters—and viewers increasingly prefer watching movies at home anyway.
I decided to create a streaming platform just for indie films. One that would solve all these problems. Six months after I drew out the first interface designs on a napkin in a Kansas diner, Streamlette was finally unveiled to the world.
How much market share can you achieve in the next 3 years?
SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand) is a wide-open industry right now. Corporate titans like Netflix, Apple and Disney are going to war over the top end of this business, but there’s surprisingly little competition for the rest of it. Every day talented independent creators release dozens of outstanding feature-length films. Every day the big distributors in this space accept fewer of them—choosing instead to produce their own content in house.
Streamlette is poised to disrupt the entire industry by providing a profitable way for filmmakers to showcase these films outside traditional channels. Our unique feed-style interface makes the viewing experience more engaging than any other streaming platform I’m aware of.
It’s difficult to make specific predictions, but I anticipate massive growth in the next three years. Within that time frame I expect Streamlette to become the single largest player in the indie film SVOD space and compete directly with Amazon Prime.
What’s the best book or series you’ve ever read?
I recently finished David McCullough’s biography of Harry Truman. I know that may seem like an odd choice, but I believe that the best way to prepare yourself for leadership is to carefully study the leadership styles of others.
Unlike many presidents, Truman did not come from a background of privilege. As an ordinary Missouri farmer, he was not expected to achieve anything in life—let alone become one of the most important presidents in American history. His story should be an inspiration to anyone trying to build a successful career without the connections and privilege enjoyed by others.
What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
The best purchase I’ve made was a monthly subscription to Upwork. I couldn’t have built such a complicated project without help from many talented freelancers.
It’s hard to pinpoint a single worst purchase, but it was probably the pair of Gucci sunglasses I impulse-bought while I was in college. They were ludicrously expensive and of course, I lost them after a few months—but while they lasted they made me feel as cool as ice.
What takes up too much of your time?
Social media management can be exhausting. Creating enough quality content to gain new subscribers and keep old ones engaged is a full time job. Fortunately, my background in advertising helps.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
- Talk Less, Do More. I realize that’s an ironic statement in the context of this article, but there are many influencers and so-called business experts out there who have never actually created a successful business. You don’t need to be an expert to be successful. You just need to start.
- Find a Mentor. The right person in your corner can make all the difference in the world. I was lucky enough to find people in the industry who were willing to help me and much of Streamlette’s success is due to their advice and support.
- Commit To Your Project. Mark Cuban says he won’t fund a startup if the founders have an escape plan. Entrepreneurship is hard work and requires more than just your time. It requires your passion. Be willing to make the sacrifices it takes to succeed.
Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
As a writer and creative, I’m in awe of Donald Glover. Is there anything he can’t do? As a comedian, screenwriter, actor and musician, he could have had any one of a dozen careers, but instead he chose to just have them all.
People like Glover remind me that you don’t need to choose between doing the things you like and making money. If you’re good enough at doing the things you like, your passions become profitable.
How should people connect with you?
I have a love/hate thing with Twitter, but it’s definitely my favorite social platform. Connect with me there @tannerwads. If you would like to learn more about Streamlette, email me at [email protected].
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