Kartik Hosanagar: Democratizing Hollywood and the Creative Process
Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have one more interview for you this week. Today I’m excited to cruise around with Kartik Hosanagar, the founder of Jumpcut Media. Are you ready to be inspired?
Spiffy: Welcome to Spiffy’s Blog, Kartik! I’m looking forward to hearing about the challenge you are addressing with Jumpcut Media. Let’s dive right in.
Kartik: Thanks for having me on, Spiffy! Jumpcut is democratizing Hollywood by connecting writers and filmmakers directly to online communities, so we can all work together to write new stories for films and television shows with diverse stories and characters. Hollywood today is an old boy's club that is not very inclusive. Furthermore, the current system doesn’t cater to fans who are yearning for shared experiences and participation in the creative process. We are reimagining how to write and film content with viewers just like you at the center! We create story universes with Web3 communities and the end result are shows and films that audiences love and include a greater diversity of stories, characters, writers, and filmmakers.
Spiffy: That sounds amazing! What motivated you to do it?
Kartik: Over the years, I have heard from many successful writers and directors that it took them 15 years to break into the industry. Or that it’s so hard to evaluate content or talent before they are huge. I have experienced the difficulty of breaking into the old boy's club myself when I wrote a screenplay ten years back. That’s when I realized that the problem I should solve is how do we de-risk new stories and new voices and democratize an entire industry. That’s where Jumpcut comes in—by building new stories with online communities, we are reducing the risk for studios to produce new projects with diverse viewpoints and creators.
Spiffy: That brings us quite smoothly to my next question. Could you elaborate on how you and Jumpcut are working towards a more equitable world?
Kartik: The inclusion problem in Hollywood is well documented—7% of film directors are women, 9% of TV showrunners are minorities. Industry has paid lip service to the idea that new perspectives are important, but nobody knows how to make it happen. By building stories for new films and television shows with diverse, worldwide communities online, we are opening a doorway for everyone. Our online communities are truly global, meaning people from India, Iceland, and Ireland could all be working together on a project, sharing their own experiences and viewpoints, to create exciting original films & stories.
Spiffy: That is exciting! Tell me about a recent Jumpcut milestone or initiative, and the impact that it makes.
Kartik: We just helped launch a new online community called The Society of the Hourglass, and are building a new animated TV series with the over 3000 members of the online community! The series will be about various historical figures traveling back and forth through time, getting into adventures, learning about teamwork, and a bit about history in the process. With characters from every part of the world, the series will ensure that whoever is watching will see someone just like them represented on screen, tackling epic quests and succeeding in conquering big challenges as a team. We know that representation on screen is key for kids and adults alike—this show will ensure that all audiences have role models to look up to.
Spiffy: All of this sounds wonderful. But I’m sure you, like any other entrepreneur, have had your share of failures. I’m always intrigued by how differently everyone deals with their experiences. Can you share one of yours and what you learned from it?
Kartik: Of course. Throughout elementary and middle school in India, I was an average student academically. I nearly failed in the 4th grade. In middle-class India, your academic performance pretty much defines you. Later, in 12th grade, I had the highest score nationwide in math. I ended up going to India’s leading private engg college and graduated as a valedictorian. Since then, I have believed that if anything is humanly possible, I could do it too (and so can anyone else). You just have to want it badly enough.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience before I let you go?
Kartik: I have built a few different startups over the years, some successful & some not. Looking back, I think that every startup's prospects felt amazing and I’d think “if only I can do this and then that, I’d get to that beautiful destination.” But when I started hiking towards that destination, one of three things happened. In some cases, I never made it to the destination. A second possibility was that I made it but the journey there was not enjoyable. A third scenario was that I got to the destination but the realization of the success wasn’t as exciting as the anticipation of it. While we all know to focus on the journey, it's something we all forget. Before you decide to pursue a startup, ask whether you’d do it for the hike itself.
Spiffy: Wise words, Kartik, and perfect to end on! Thanks for speaking with me today, it’s been an honor.
Kartik Hosanagar is a serial entrepreneur, founder of Jumpcut, co-founder of Yodle Inc, and an angel investor. He is the John C. Hower Professor of Technology and Digital Business and a Professor of Marketing at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. (First published on the Ladderworks website on January 28, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.