The lights are beginning to shine on BidSlate.com, a start-up marketplace for filmmakers and the buyers that distribute their content.
In its first six months of operation, BidSlate has offered hundreds of buyers (also known as distributors) about 150 films, including the dramas “Apocalypse Child” and “Americana” and comedies “Fighting Belle” and the Spanish-language “Piter Pan.” Other genres include adventure, horror, thriller, sci-fi, Western, LGBTQ and documentary. BidSlate already serves hundreds of buyer-distributors from nearly all parts of the world, and hopes to expand its marketplace activity to include thousands of content titles and thousands of buyer-distributors, co-founder and CEO Roland Rojas says.
One key to its growth, he says, is simplifying the complicated method of how buyers pay for distribution rights they acquire from filmmakers. Buyers typically either pay a flat fee up front on receipt of content, a minimum up-front payment followed revenue sharing as buyers re-sell the content, or share revenue. Traditionally, such payments have been made offline with paper checks, requiring extensive paper work and bill-collecting, Rojas says. “It’s complicated,” he says.
When planning BidSlate’s launch, Rojas and his film industry partner decided to start with an electronic payment escrow system that would not only cut out the paper checks, but instill more confidence among internationally dispersed buyers and sellers who may not know each other. Regardless of the payment schedule, funds from the buyer-distributors on the marketplace are held in escrow by Payoneer, BidSlate’s payment services provider, and released to sellers once the buyers receive the content under their agreed-upon terms. Under the revenue-sharing model, Payoneer receives the funds from the buyer-distributors’ end-customers, then disperses it to the buyer-distributor and filmmaker according to their revenue-sharing terms. BidSlate retains 20% of each transaction as its own fee.
Rojas says BidSlate is taking other steps to help its marketplace grow among both buyers and filmmakers. Its e-commerce platform at BidSlate.com, which it built in-house, for example, was designed with a site search tool that lets buyers look for content by genre or other criteria that meets their programming interests.
But he says he can’t imagine having to directly get involved in managing payment transactions. “We’re a marketplace,” he says. “We don’t want to touch the funds going between buyers and sellers. We only want to touch what belongs to us.”
Rojas says it took about two months for his internal I.T. team and Payoneer to set up the escrow service on BidSlate.com. Buyers on BidSlate, he says, take about five minutes to fill out an online form to begin using the escrow service.
Payoneer, which charges no fees to integrate its technology into marketplaces, charges its clients a percentage of transaction value starting at 1.5% for transactions valued at under $5,000, according to Payoneer CEO Scott Galit. The rate goes down as transaction value rises. For a marketplace generating sales of more than $1 million, the rate is 0.35%.
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