With Media Camp LA, Turner and Warner Bros. show that startups and media giants both have knowledge to share

By Michael Carney , written on July 30, 2013

From The News Desk

The prevailing wisdom goes, when something’s working, don’t mess with it. But this wisdom doesn’t say much about doubling down on a winning strategy. This is exactly what Turner has done with its one-year-old Media Camp accelerator program, partnering with Warner Brothers to extend the year-old, San Francisco-based program to Los Angeles.

Today, the inaugural class of Media Camp LA graduates from the once annual 12-week program culminating in a Demo Day. In this sense, Media Camp is like any other accelerator, in that it invites investors, executives, and community leaders to meet the graduating companies, each of which will give a short presentation on the status and vision of their business. But the 12 weeks leading up to today were anything but typical.

Like within Media Camp SF, companies participating in the the LA edition spend the majority of the session meeting with senior executives of leading media companies including those across and outside the Turner and Warner Brothers corporate families. Media Camp lists 30 such mentors on its website. Such access has proven invaluable for past Media Camp startups the success of which often depend on navigating the bureaucracies of enormous old media companies. Content licensing, distribution, strategic investment, and M&A opportunities often come down to relationships within “the system.” Even companies entering Media Camp as outsiders looking in on the world of media.

“We participated last year as speakers in several Turner Media Camp workshops and were really impressed with the chance to interact with startups at granular level,” says Warner Brothers Home Entertainment SVP of Global Business Development Debra Baker. “We were even more surprised at opportunity to transfer knowledge about WB businesses in ways that can help shape the products and business models of these companies early in their lifecycle.”

Despite the success of the model employed by the original SF program, Baker and her staff plan to hold debriefings following today’s Demo Day to determine how they can tailor the LA edition to better meet the needs of the participating companies and to take advantage of the program’s proximity to Hollywood. For example, Baker already predicts that the next year’s Media Camp LA will “move to more practical workshop areas sooner in the program, and to focus more heavily on commercial relationships and on pitching skills.”

Startups participating in Media Camp have plenty to gain, but for it to be truly successful, the learning should go both directions. While on one hand noting that Warner Bros. has a history of technological innovation, Baker concedes that the company doesn’t move as fast or act as freely as early stage startups. To the extent that the company’s executives and product teams can harness some of the hacker spirit of its entrepreneur participants, Media Camp could be as much of a boon to the media giant as it is to the startups.

"We believe that Warner Bros. has always been about talent, and we view this as a fantastic opportunity to create relationships with talent," Baker says.

Media Camp LA features five companies slected from among hundreds of applicants. Below is a brief bio of each company (provided by Media Camp):

  • Cinecore is a scalable Enterprise SaaS solution for film and television productions that keeps casts and crews on schedule and organized with digital document distribution, digital file storage and location maps through an in-app Google maps interface. Cinecore’s access to the production technology teams at Warner Bros. gave them on-the-ground insights into how the studio approaches video production so they could shape their offering. Cinecore will demo a dashboard that connects multiple studio technologies into a single, easy-to-use digital solution for production teams and will be piloted with select television productions.
  • Deal Flicks’ goal is to increase theatre box-office sales using a mobile  platform coupled with proprietary optimization algorithms.  Through Media Camp, Warner Bros. is helping Deal Flicks navigate the complexities of the film distribution business and explore opportunities to increase the industry box-office.
  • Kumbuya is social commerce in the context of curated, community generated content focused on consumers’ area of interest. Kumbuya’s platform allows studios the opportunity to engage directly with fans through social media. Kumbuya’s pilot program presented at Demo Day will show communities developed for several Warner Bros. new release, catalogue and franchise titles.
  • Reelhouse is an online video platform that provides filmmakers control to self-distribute content directly to their viewers. Reelhouse’s content delivery platform drives engagement and transaction through the creation of immersive consumer experiences that combines feature content, interviews, photo galleries, videos, merchandise, interactive experiences and more. Reelhouse’s pilot program is expected to involve distributing a selection of Warner Bros. titles to test the value of the proposition.
  • Skit! (Storytime Studios, Inc.) allows users to create stories using content from the Web and their own social networks using simple, finger-swiping technology on the iPad. Gestures give life to the creation, and the user’s voice provides the soundtrack.  Skit! revealed its pilot with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s Mad Max videogame, due out in 2014, at Comic-Con in San Diego, where fans created stories within the Mad Max universe and shared them with friends across social networks. The team worked closely with creative and production executives from businesses such as Warner Bros. Television, Telepictures and DC Comics. This collaboration has given Skit! insight into how to work with content owners to drive deeper fan engagement.