Startup Of The Week: Baltic View
Please meet Inesa Ivanova, CEO of Baltic View, a startup that provides two ways to view films that are made in Baltics: at Cinema Events and Online. What is Baltic View and why this platform is so unique, Inesa reveals in this interview.
So what is Baltic View? How it works?
Baltic View is a project that promotes films made in the Baltics worldwide. We work in two main directions. As an Online Cinema Space Baltic View regularly releases films on its Vimeo channel. The films are carefully picked by professional curators and united into programmes that address either important aspects of life in the Baltics or significant historical events. As a distributor Baltic View has established partnerships throughout Europe to organise Cinema Events – film screenings and Q&A with directors.
What are your competitors and competitive advantages?
Big streaming platforms do not show films from our region with an exception of a few well-known ones. Smaller platforms often do not have a big professional network to acquire films they would like to show. We have both the network of partners and the quality content due to strong curation.
One more important advantage of Baltic View is its regional focus. While there are local streaming platforms (e.g.: Kinofondas in Lithuania) in some of the Baltic countries, we are the first to unite the films under one Baltic cinema flag. That gives the viewers a necessary perspective for understanding the life in the region and the development of the industry.
What were the reasons behind coming up with this idea and launching this product?
All of the core Baltic View team members lived or still live abroad. We saw that the expat communities in the USA, the UK and many of the European countries are interested in the Baltic cinema but they have no means to watch films from the region. On the other hand many of the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian films (especially documentaries) are shown at festivals and then are almost lost to the public. We decided to change that.
One of the contributing factors that influenced our decision was the fact that in 2015 in Cannes the most important Baltic film institutions – the Estonian Film Institute, the Latvian National Film Centre and the Lithuanian Film Centre – signed a mutual cooperation agreement, which meant that there was also a demand for such a cultural project in the professional community.
When exactly did you launch, what were the main challenges before launching?
Before the launch we had to establish a network, secure funding and decide upon some of the key issues. One of them was whether we should develop our own white label VOD platform or stick with Vimeo, which is easier to advertise but more difficult to present as an independent project. In the end Baltic View soft-launched in December 2016 with 24 short films in 4 programmes.
What are main challenges while working on this product and how are you overcoming them?
Smaller cultural projects like this one are difficult to advertise. So every once in a while we provide viewers with free films to watch to rekindle their interest. We send out newsletters to our subscribers, use social media to reach more viewers and are now preparing a thunderclap campaign to help advertise the project.
How are you funded? Do you seek extra funding?
The launch and the development of the project in the first year was funded by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture. Now we are looking into other options to help Baltic View grow.
Please introduce your founders, your core team and your broader team?
Baltic View was co-founded by Inesa Ivanova, Gabija Budreckyte and Daiva Ivanauskaite. Inesa is an award-winning producer who’s lived and worked in London since 2004. Gabija, Head of distribution, has returned to Lithuania after working with BBC, NBC and Disney in the UK. Daiva has worked with both educational and cultural projects, she was one of the co-founders of the Baltic Film Society in Scotland.
In 2017 Daiva left the project and Volha Pauliukevich joined in. Volha has worked as part of the international film festival team, but her background is in communications and media.
How has business been so far? Could you share some numbers to illustrate this (users, sales, etc)?
We had a successful start – the short films from the December programmes have been watched more than 2 thousand timed. All in all Baltic View content has been viewed 16 thousand times since its launch.
Future plans, ambitions? Simply speaking – what’s next?
We plan to reach maturity in 4 years, but we also plan to find new ways to promote Baltic films and emerging talents from the Baltics. We have established partnerships with festivals, organisations and individuals from the film industry and we are now discussing the possibilities. So just wait and see.
Thank you, Inesa, for this interview!