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From Small Screen to Big: How Stareable Has Become a Launchpad for the Creator Community

Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling

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From a brand perspective, capturing audience attention means going after eyeballs everywhere. As the veil between creators and creator success becomes thinner as a result of the multitude of platforms audiences engages with, one might make the assumption that every creator is already in their right place and satisfied with that place.

Put yourself in a creator's shoes, and the world looks a little different. While there are those whose found medium is vertical shorts, live streaming, or anything in between, there are so many others who still see creating content online as a ladder - a means to an end - and that end is the 'big' screen.

Traditionally the big screen is in the movie theater, but today's big screen can also mean the biggest screen in your home: television. For an entire generation that creates content online, that's still the goal: to graduate from the internet and land a deal with a network or studio. And while this unclear path traversed by many can be mired in confusion, darkness, and difficulty, Ajay Kishore and his company Stareable are here to shine some light on the way forward.

BrandStorytelling caught up with Kishore after checking out Stareable Fest LA to learn more about the origins of Stareable, the opportunities abound for creators, and where brands fit within the digital-creator-to-television pipeline:

Thanks for talking with me, Ajay. How did the idea for Stareable come about?

We were struck by the notion of web series as, essentially, independent television. As we looked at some of the high profile web series success stories (Broad City, Insecure, High Maintenance), we realized there was no established pipeline between this rapidly-growing world of digital creators and the mainstream TV industry. We built Stareable to act as a marketplace for this incredibly talented, diverse, and global community of creators, connecting them to brands, production companies, studios, networks, and distributors.

Can you break down the two parts that make up Stareable?

We run Stareable Fest, our indie TV and web series festival, twice a year, with our spring event in LA and our fall version in NYC. Creators submit their projects for consideration and we select for the best of the best. At the festivals, we set up curated 1:1 marketplace meetings, and last year we created over 200 conversations with over 60+ execs from places like Disney, Paramount, AMC Networks, Roku, Untitled, and more. Beyond our festivals, we help develop, package, shop, and produce our creators’ projects through Stareable Studios. This gives them access to our first look relationship at Sony Pictures Television; our agency, UTA; our food-and-travel branded content incubator with VIZIO; and more.

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How does Stareable set itself apart from other creator submission groups and events?

Access to industry. Our specific vertical of creators are looking to get their show on a major network or distributor. We’ve spent years building a network of relationships that help get those deals done.

What partnerships have you established with the fest and studio?

In 2022 we closed a first look deal with Sony Pictures Television, replacing our prior first look with AMC Networks. We licensed 30+ of our past Official Selections to the Roku Channel. We’ve partnered with VIZIO on a food and travel branded content incubator. We are repped by UTA. And we have set up projects at studios as big as MACRO.

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What kind of feedback do you get from the creators that participate in your program?

Our creators are glowing about the access to industry that we provide and the incredibly supportive and rapidly-growing community in web series and indie TV that we’ve cultivated. They think we’re on track to building Sundance for television.

Is there an opportunity for brands to get involved with Stareable?

Yes, absolutely. Brands can partner with our talented creators and leverage their already-existing IP to build new branded versions of their projects. And we have built unique relationships with the branded content studios at Roku, VIZIO, AMC Networks, Viacom and more. So once these new shows are produced, Stareable can guarantee distribution with our partners, all in one integrated ad-buy.

We’re also building incubators for different categories of creators, across communities (Black, Hispanic, LGBT), or genre (animation, travel, lifestyle). Our community is notably diverse - 48% female, 36% people of color, 15% LGBT+. We want to find ways to springboard these under-represented creators into the industry.

For our Black creator incubator, for instance, we help the creators gain a competitive edge by pairing them with funding and mentorship, and setting them up at major production companies, studios, and networks to advance their careers. We are looking for brands who want to partner with Stareable to support these diverse creators, letting us build an organic narrative about how they are walking the talk with their DEI goals in helping to democratize the television industry.

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What other plans do you have for the future of Stareable?

We’re just getting started in building a launchpad for these new voices. We’re looking for innovative, thoughtful brands who want to partner on incubators that we’ve built for different categories of creators. And we’re finding that studios and streamers are eager to leverage us to discover differentiated, innovative I.P. We are more confident than ever that independent diverse digital talent is the future of the television industry.

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About Ajay Kishore

Ajay Kishore is the founder and CEO of Stareable, the premier indie TV and web series festival and incubator, gatecrashing Hollywood with our talented, innovative, and diverse creator community. Our event, Stareable Fest, is the premier indie TV and web series festival. It honors the year’s best content, and provides a space for the next generation of creators to connect with industry executives, grow their network, learn new skills, and build community. Stareable Studios is our growing development and production arm, rep’d at UTA and with a first look deal with Sony Pictures Television. Stareable is dedicated to creating a representative, inclusive, and dynamic TV landscape. Ajay is a Yale and Bridgewater alumni, unabashed produce enthusiast, and TV nerd.


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