“Being an online business has certainly been beneficial, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t needed to adapt in the face of these new circumstances.”

Weerada Sucharitkul, CEO & Founder of FilmDoo

FilmDoo co-founder, Weerada Sucharitkul, always enjoyed international cinema, but was frustrated that so many of them were unavailable in the UK where she resides. So with her partner, William Page, she started FilmDoo in the summer of 2014. The benefits of being an online entertainment business during the pandemic are obvious, but like most businesses, FilmDoo’s founders have needed to adapt.

What is filmDoo?

FilmDoo is a movie streaming platform (www.filmdoo.com) to help people discover great films from around the world – films that can’t be found in movie theaters or on more traditional platforms like network television or even NetFlix. FilmDoo is also available as a subscription channel on Amazon Prime Video. 

WEERADA SUCHARITKUL

We are now expanding to online education since we see film as a fun and engaging way for students to learn foreign languages and explore other cultures. We are in the process of developing and launching game-based interactive edutainment tools and are currently in a pilot with the Language Flagship Programme across major US universities.

How has the pandemic affected FilmDoo and its operations?

FilmDoo’s core direct to consumer business of streaming foreign films on demand has actually benefited from the current environment since people are staying home and seeking out in-home entertainment. 

And with the rise of online education, we feel we have another great growth opportunity.  However, these direct to business opportunities have been negatively impacted since many of the deals that were set to close over the next few months have now been placed on hold or will take longer to close.

How are you adapting your strategies?

Initially, FilmDoo’s edutainment tools were usable only for films curated and hosted on the main FilmDoo.com platform, with a focus on using films for language teaching and language learning.  This is building on FilmDoo already having one of the world’s largest foreign language film catalogues online. The new edutainment platform, https://esh.ooo, would allow language schools and language tutors to create classes using any films on FilmDoo, curated by language and themes.

With recent events, FilmDoo saw an opportunity to use our edutainment platform to help teachers beyond language learning through film and to expand to other subjects, especially at K-12 level.  We identified the opportunity to separate our edutainment technology from the main FilmDoo website so that teachers can use the tool on any other film and video content hosted on Youtube and Vimeo.  This is a great way to help more K-12 schools and universities now, especially as they are all looking at new ways to bring classrooms online and to raise student engagement through the use of interactive film and video.   

How are you managing connections with your team and vendors/partners?

Given the nature of the FilmDoo business, FilmDoo has always operated a very international team, with many people working remotely and/or at different locations at any one time. We are comfortable using the  technology platforms available for online collaboration and team calls.  

Likewise, we have been able to continue to do calls with vendors and partners.  Of course, nothing compares to having face-to-face interactions, especially in building B2B relationships.  In the absence of this, it is important to maintain regular and frequent contacts, where possible.  Shorter, but more regular catch up calls are key for achieving this, especially when it is more difficult to maintain the momentum over longer calls or video calls.

Do you think there will be any loss of revenue?

As with companies across all industries, this will likely result in many of our projected deals taking much longer to close, and consequently, having an impact on our financial forecasts.  Consequently, it may also require re-positioning of our current product or strategy to identify new commercial opportunities.

How are you balancing family and friends with the changing needs of the business?

It is very difficult to balance family and friends during such a trying time as a pandemic, especially when you are coming under a lot of pressure and stress.  But I always try to allocate a certain time during the week to call my family and to reach out to friends.  

Having close friends and family to talk to also gives you an additional sounding board when you need advice or guidance as well as being the emotional, mental and even spiritual support to help get you through tough times.  It is important to continue to nurture your relationships and to spend time with people who share your vision, goals and can appreciate your worth, as they can become a source of inspiration to help get you through business difficulties.

Are you feeling any additional stress and, if so, how are you handling the stress?

The current uncertainty and how long the situation will last has provided additional stress.   However, something I’ve learnt along my entrepreneurial journey is that there are many things in life that you can’t  control.  It is important to continue to do your best at whatever task you have at hand and whatever you set your mind to, but also take comfort and relief, that there are many things in life you cannot control.  

Consequently, be open to change, to doing things differently, or in business terms – to repurpose or pivot your company – until you find what works.  Having such a mindset and an outlook to life will help take away some of the stress and give you peace of mind, especially when you have always given your best efforts and have tried to live up to your principles.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

My one advice to entrepreneurs is, “to know your worth”.  Don’t let other people take advantage of you unfairly, and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself or what you believe to be the right thing to do.  You will not always be able to make everyone happy all the time, but it is important to know what you and your company stand for and the values that you want to represent to your team, your shareholders, your suppliers, your clients and ultimately, as the legacy of the company that you built and will one day leave behind. 

FilmDoo is offering a free film to all Startups by Grownups readers. To claim your free film, sign up and/or log into FilmDoo.com, select any film of your choice and input the following discount code during checkout: TOGETHERWITHFILM (valid for the rest of the year).


Copyright© 2020 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong

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