Back in July, I was featured in Harper’s Bazaar Work It Out column in which Jo Glynn-Smith meets working women to discuss the secrets to their success, and tips on maintaining a successful work-life balance…

Describe your role

We Are Colony is a global streaming platform that connects passionate fans to great films and exclusive extra content from their favourite talents. As the founder and CEO, I am involved across the board, from hiring a world-class team to raising investment, leading our product development and acquiring content partners.

Describe your career path

I studied marine biology at university, with the long-held ambition to work in natural history film-making, but I soon fell in love with documentary-making. In 2004, aged 23, I founded a TV-production company. After picking up two Bafta awards and a host of others, I moved to digital distribution, first with a role at the global ed-tech start-up, Twig, and then by founding We Are Colony in 2013.

What has been the most positive surprise to you in your career?

The opportunity to move across disciplines. Careers are fluid and should be yours to shape.

What was the most difficult surprise?

That it’s not a meritocracy.

Which skill do you think has been most critical for your success to date?

Networking. I try to create high-value networks offering genuine and mutually beneficial connections, and to be proactive in linking up brilliant people.

What is changing in your industry that excites you?

Everything. Much like in the music industry, the traditional models of distribution and marketing in the film world are being rebuilt. There are enormous opportunities, globally, to change the way fans engage with film, and the routes to market for film-makers.

What advice would you give to someone just coming in to your industry now?

It sounds obvious, but too often in the film industry, the audience is an afterthought. Who you’re making work for, and how you engage that audience, is everything.

What would you like someone to invent to make your life easier?

I’d like someone to uninvent email.

If you could spend your time doing anything you wanted, what would you do?

I’m keen to write – and scuba-dive my way across Indonesia.

What does your dream property look like and where would it be?

I’m buying in east London at the moment, so the dream currently looks like anything that isn’t impossibly small and impossibly expensive.

What is your favourite…

…way to entertain clients or colleagues?
London’s amazing food scene.

…sport to watch?
Wimbledon.

…sport to do?
Scuba-diving or Pilates.

…accessories for work?
Everything Apple.

…scent?
Coco Mademoiselle.

…work travel destination?
Los Angeles.

…tickets for you and a friend on a Thursday night?
A Bafta screening.

Plug something else you’re involved in.

If you’re in an early-stage start-up, check out Seedcamp, Europe’s leading “first-round fund”; it offers amazing support and an unparalleled network, and has made a material impact on our growth.

The original article can be found here.

Global film streaming platform Colony recognised in Everline Future 50, The British Small Business Awards, The Digital Entrepreneur Awards, The Screen Awards, TMT Media Awards, The Drum’s DADI Awards, The Drum Online Media Awards, First Women Awards, BIMA Hot 100 and Startups 100 2016. 

At the start of the year, Colony was named in the Everline Future 50 Awards: the “definitive analysis of game-changing new UK businesses”. Everline Future 50 recognised Colony as “a film streaming platform the likes of which has never been seen before by the video industry”. Since then, I’m delighted to report that the Awards and nominations continue to roll in…

This month, Colony received a nomination in The British Small Business Awards, celebrating leaders in the small business community. Nominated for Website of the Year, the Awards are held on October 20th 2016. We have also received two nominations in The Digital Entrepreneur Awards for Digital Team of the Year and Digital Entrepreneur of the Year. The longest-standing national tech awards in the UK, the Awards “showcase the very best of online entrepreneurship that Britain has to offer”. And Colony’s Head of Audience Marketing Daniel Díaz has been named in The Screen Awards’ 2016 Rising Star shortlist. The Awards “celebrate the people and companies dedicated to connecting audiences with films, with categories covering distribution, exhibition, marketing, publicity and brand partnerships”. The winners will be announced on October 20th 2016.

Last month, Colony was named Best Independent Film Streaming Platform in the 2016 TMT Media Awards, which seek to “recognise media companies that have excelled in the past year, working to provide the best possible service to their clients”. In July, Colony was also nominated for Best Use of Visual Design in The Drum’s DADI Awards 2016. Now in their tenth year, the Awards reward individuals and companies at the forefront of the digital sector. In this category, judges are looking for “innovation, effectiveness and tangible results” and Colony is nominated alongside Harry Potter publication site, Pottermore. This year’s Awards attracted entries from some of the world’s leading brands including Google, BBC World Services, The Economist and Saatchi & Saatchi. Winners will be announced on 19th October.

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Back in May, the platform was nominated in the The Drum Online Media Awards for Best Designed Site. Now in their sixth year, The Drum Online Media Awards identify “the cleverest, boldest and most original purveyors of news and views from around the world”. Colony was recognised alongside winners The Guardian and Reuters TV, and fellow nominees Al Jazeera, Quartz and The Calvert Journal. In the same month, I was also nominated as a finalist in the First Women Awards for Women in Media, created to “champion the trailblazing female leaders of Britain’s business, entrepreneurial, engineering, science, technology and media sectors”. And the company was recognised in Startups 100, the only ranked index of the UK’s hottest start-ups, launched to acknowledge and showcase the remarkable achievements and intense hard work of Britain’s young businesses.

In April, Colony’s CTO Richard Davis was recognised in BIMA’S 2016 Hot 100 list, which seeks to recognise “the most influential players in the British digital industry”. The Hot 100 are nominated by the industry, with the final list decided by a panel of leading digital experts chaired by Lawrence Weber, Managing Partner Innovation at Karmarama. Past recipients of this accolade include myself, and Colony Board member James Freedman of Zone – both recognised in the 2014 cohort.

Read more at blog.wearecolony.com or follow us on twitter.

Everline Future 50 recognises We Are Colony as “a film streaming platform the likes of which has never been seen before by the video industry”.

Delighted to announce We Are Colony was named in the Everline Future 50 Awards last night: the “definitive analysis of game-changing new UK businesses”, recognising the 50 most disruptive British businesses in 2016. The Awards recognised We Are Colony as “…a film streaming platform the likes of which has never been seen before by the video industry”.

Real Business, the UK’s most-read SME website, and Everline launched the Future 50 Competition five years ago to identify and champion British businesses that are transforming industries. Previous Future 50 trailblazers include Secret Escapes (which raised $60m Google Ventures backing for global expansion in 2015), Funding Circle (one of the best capitalised marketplace lending platforms in the world, having raised $300 millionof equity capital since 2010) and TransferWise (the London-based peer-to-peer money transfer service which was valued close to $1 billion last year).

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We are thrilled to be included in the Everline Future 50 2016, especially among such a strong cohort of British startups. It’s fantastic early recognition of our ambition to build a global business which truly impacts how fans engage with quality film and film extras.

Future 50 commented: “We Are Colony releases ‘special edition bundles’ of content to fans…showing a more personal viewing experience is possible. The mission of We Are Colony is to capitalise on gear change in the industry, building a global community of loyal and passionate fans and redefining the video on demand experience. Already recognised for its disruptive and innovative service, We Are Colony has received coverage throughout the global media. Oscar-nominated and Bafta-winning filmmaker turned distributer Sarah Tierney has put together a world class team with the aim of making We Are Colony a household name in video on demand. The young venture is gearing up to become a globally recognised brand in the coming years.”

Read Future 50’s feature on We Are Colony here

Showcasing 50 of the hottest new or early stage businesses, the Future 50 Awards celebrate “the most ambitious, disruptive and thrilling start-ups in the UK”.

Real Business, the UK’s most-read SME website, and Everline launched the Future 50 Competition five years ago to identify and champion British businesses that are transforming industries. With ambitions to disrupt the global film streaming and marketing sectors, We Are Colony is very proud to announce that we have been shortlisted for inclusion within Future 50 2016.

Future 50 trailblazers can come from any sector: companies including Secret Escapes, Funding Circle and TransferWise are just a few of the firms to have been named on previous Future 50 line-ups on their rise to the top.

We’re very excited to have been recognised by Future 50, especially given its focus on home-grown businesses. The Future 50 ranking will be unveiled on 3rd March 2016 at Bankside Vaults in London.

This post first appeared on We Are Colony’s blog – read more here

We Are Colony has analysed the social buzz surrounding the 88th Academy Awards to predict who will walk away with the industry’s most coveted gongs. And the results may surprise you…

Collating data from 90 days’ worth of social media monitoring across the globe, the results are formed from combining data on the number of mentions for each actor or film with the positive sentiment of those mentions. We then contrasted the public’s predictions against the experts, teaming up with Empire Magazine contributing editor (and filmmaker) Nev Pierce.

Some of the stand out predictions are:

  • 50% think The Revenant has shot at winning Best Picture (Nev is rooting for The Big Short)
  • However, director Alejandro G Iñárritu is considered least likely to take home Director, despite winning it at this year’s Golden Globes and Baftas
  • 80% are rooting for Leonardo DiCaprio to walk away with Best Actor, with only 1% thinking Bryan Cranston will take the title
  • 50% think Jennifer Lawrence will win Best Actress, despite the critics favourite being Brie Larson
  • And in the last year, positive sentiment around the Oscars has dropped by 5%

See the full predictions in our infographic:

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We Are Colony has come out of beta with a streamlined new design and a host of new curatorial features.

The new design  better communicates the uniqueness of the product (the special edition bundle), the growing diversity and depth of the catalogue, and has strengthened and consolidated our brand and design language both on and off platform. The redesign signals the end of the platforms beta, during which time we released 60 titles and attracted registered account holders from 115 countries.

Read more from front-end lead Patrick Kunka here: http://blog.wearecolony.com/we-are-colony-launches-new-platform-design.

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Looking at the North American top 100 grossing movies of 2015, the number of onscreen female protagonists increased but leading women of colour remained the same.

Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, executive director of Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, compiled the findings of a content analysis that looked at 2,500 characters appearing in the top 100 domestic-grossing films of 2015, foreign films excluded. Females comprised 22% of the protagonists featured in the films studied — an increase of 10% compared to 2014. The 2015 figure is 6% higher than in 2002, which stands as a recent historical high for female protagonists in film.

Overall, females accounted for 33% of all speaking characters, a slight increase from the previous year, but the percentage of women of color characters remained largely unchanged. Of the female protagonists seen on film in 2015, 27% were black, Latina, Asian or women of other races/ethnicities, while 13% of all female characters, leading or otherwise, were black in 2015, up 2% points.

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Some of We Are Colony’s female filmmakers and stars – http://www.wearecolony.com

The statistics are even worse behind-the-camera: just 9% of Hollywood directors are women; 4% of the top 100 box office films are directed by women; and women accounted for 15% of writers, 17% of executive producers, 20% of editors, 4% of cinematographers, and 25% of producers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. Just 55.4% of all films pass the Bechdel Test, the informal guidelines that judge whether individual films represent female characters fairly.

Both areas of under-representation are particularly stark when compared with film audiences: women are majority film-goers (52% of box office ticket sales) and VOD over-indexes on women.

Film4, Channel 4’s feature film division, will receive a record £25m in funding next year after securing 22 Bafta and 15 Oscar nominations in this year’s awards season.

The £10m funding increase, up from £15m in 2015, represents a significant vote of confidence by the network in its big-screen division, which backed acclaimed productions including RoomCarol45 Years and Amy.

Titles backed by Film4 this year have a total of 15 Oscar nominations including a Best Picture and Best Director nomination and three of the five Oscar Best Actress Nominees: Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Charlotte Rampling.  The total tally of Film4’s awards nominations and wins across the Academy, BAFTA, critics groups, guilds, etc. in 2015 to date is: 181 wins out of a total 581 nominations (95% of which were in the U.S.) across 11 films, including Room, Suffragette and The Lobster.

Film4 is known for working with the most distinctive and innovative, both new and established, talent. CEO David  Kosse spoke to Screen International about his vision and strategy for Film4’s future:

“In many cases, we’re not making money on [Film4-backed] movies that are making money. Other people are making money. So we’re choosing the projects, we’re developing the projects, we’re investing in the projects but our position in many of these projects isn’t where it should be. It doesn’t take a lot of analysis to show that had we taken a bigger position in a number of those films and reduced the costs that come with a multi-party agreement, we would have made more money when the film was successful, and really not lost much more when the film wasn’t successful. But in order to do that, you needed more money that would allow you to take bigger swings.”

“That could mean holding onto the UK rights… It doesn’t mean we’re going to distribute the film but we’ll just take a bet that the film will be good enough to find a distributor. Given that we’ve made 110 films in the past 10 years and 98% of them got distributed, that’s a pretty good bet. Or it could mean something like the Fox Searchlight deal [on Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri], where we co-finance 50-50 and keep their fees as low as we possibly can, meaning we get to participate if the film’s a hit. It could also be gap financing in a film, or part-mezzanine financing. It could be any number of these options as long as it makes sense. That’s the key strategic change we were able to demonstrate to David [Abraham, Channel 4 chief executive] and the board.”

Doteveryone, a new organization led by trailblazer Martha Lane Fox, aims to identify female tech influencers and put women at the heart of the UK technology sector.

Women currently occupy just 17% of tech jobs. According to Pitchbook, only 13% of venture-backed companies had at least one female co-founder. In the software sector, women-run businesses accounted for just 10% of all venture capital deals (and that’s a drastic improvement). And a 2015 study found that 92% of senior investment teams at top venture capital firms are male.

Doteveryone, a new organization led by Martha Lane Fox, aims to help change this by putting women at the heart of the technology sector, believing that making the UK the most gender-balanced tech sector in the world will deliver a massive global competitive advantage. The 5050tech challenge sought applications from UK start-ups with at least one female founder, seeking early-stage or seed funding and/or mentoring. From hundreds of applications, 34 were shortlisted to take part in the first 5050tech Challenge on 8th February at Campus London.

As Vanessa Whiteside, Head of Marketing at Engage Works, wrote in the Huffington Post: “positive, successful female role models are a fantastic way to inspire young women to enter the world of tech. And all you have to do is look at the likes of Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, Marissa Meyer at Yahoo and Eileen Burbidge Tech City’s UK chair who are already paving the way to a brighter future with equal opportunities for both sexes. Initiatives like Google’s Codegirl are also encouraging young women to get excited about coding, in a much-needed re-brand of the tech industry. And it’s refreshing to see that these initiatives are starting to pay off. Start-up accelerator, MassChallenge, recently announced that 39% of their global start-ups from Boston and London have at least one female founder.”

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We Are Colony is first and foremost an amazing team of enthusiastic, ambitious and talented individuals. We are also a fairly balanced team, with six of our 13 team members women, including myself as Founder and CEO. Our global user base also skews female, and we make a point of gender balance on-screen and off. Of Vice’s ‘10 female film performances that awards season insanely ignored’ you can enjoy three on our platform: Kristen Wiig in Welcome to Me, Bel Powley in Diary of a Teenage Girl and Desiree Akhavan in Appropriate Behaviour. And we’re proud to champion work from awesome female filmmakers including: Oscar-winner Mia Bays, producer of The Muse and Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of; Crystal Moselle, director and producer of The Wolfpack; and the team behind Little Accidents, including writer and director Sara Colangelo and cinematographer Rachel Morrison.

This post first appeared on We Are Colony’s blog. Read more here. 

My company We Are Colony, the new global film streaming platform connecting content owners to passionate fans through special edition releases, has announced $2m in seed investment, fast on the heels of the company’s controlled platform rollout, which culminated in an expansion to over 100 countries.

The latest seed investment round combined additional financial commitments from We Are Colony’s original angel investors, with new investments from: Archer Gray, the New York media production, finance, and venture investment company; Firestartr, the entrepreneur-led fund backing globally ambitious entrepreneurs with game-changing internet and software businesses; and Essex Innovation.

This additional capital empowers us to translate the progress we’ve made in the past year into the foundational elements of a global video destination for engaged audiences who prize early and exclusive access to titles and talent that they love.

“In We Are Colony we saw a platform that could be a vibrant home for both original films and the kind of exclusive behind-the-scenes content that fans and film lovers value,” said Amy Nauiokas, the CEO and founder of Archer Gray. “We are thrilled to be supporting Sarah and her team as they continue to build a completely new kind of video-on-demand platform.”

We Are Colony will now focus on growing our library of feature films and exclusive special features, in the areas of talent-driven and strong genre titles, with a number of strategic partnerships and output deals to be announced in the coming months. The company will also expand the team to further deliver on the narrow-targeting marketing and audience engagement expertise evidenced by the early successes of the beta.

“Digital video-on-demand has completely transformed consumer video consumption habits. We Are Colony has recognised that in this new digital world a key differentiator and success factor is to create strong sticky community bases around specific demographics of film viewers. As such, We Are Colony has effectively reinvented the special-edition film DVD for the digital age and in the process also created a new marketing and monetisation channel for distributors and studios to target this highly engaged demographic,” said Anil Hansjee, Firestartr.co and ex Digital Chief Investment Officer for major European broadcaster MTG.

Visit www.wearecolony.com to learn more.

UPDATES:

“A startup that’s trying to be the Netflix of behind-the-scenes film footage just raised $2 million” – coverage in Business Insider

“London-Based Movie Streaming Startup We Are Colony Raises $2 Million in Funding” – coverage in The Hollywood Reporter