Trey Checkett, BSBA ’22, hopes to revolutionize the way people consume short films from around the globe. So he launched Lumière, a subscription-based streaming platform. It went live in November on lumeriershorts.com, the App Store and Google Play Store. He discusses his startup in this Q&A:
What are you creating with Lumière and why?
Today, streaming services are driven by episodic TV (e.g., “This Is Us,” “Breaking Bad,” “Grey’s Anatomy”), documentaries/docuseries (e.g., “The Social Dilemma,” “The Last Dance”), and feature films (e.g., “Joker,” “Inception”). Premier short films are a combination of all three of these. They are the length of your favorite TV show, have the exceptional detail of most any docu film/series and, much like a feature film, have skillfully crafted character development and storytelling.
With entertainment trends today pointing toward shorter, more low-commitment content, it is time to bring short films to the light. At Lumière, we believe we can leverage both impactful and high performing short films to build a strong community and change the short film space for creators and consumers forever. We have made it a focal point within our team to be available on every size screen for most everybody interested and have done just that.
What is the opportunity you’re trying to exploit? What makes you unique?
Every year, short films are celebrated at major festivals like the Oscars, Sundance and Cannes, but they have no consistent place to call home afterward. Today, short films are either uploaded on YouTube and forever lost in its billions of hours of content or are locked up in distribution deals. Short films are extremely hard to access. Additionally, with continued technological advancement, most anybody can pull out their smartphone, take a video, and call it a “short film.”
Because of these two factors, search costs for finding premier, award-winning or grassroots productions are unbelievably high, and impossible barriers to entry discourage consistent viewership. Currently, there is no way to sort through and view the best short films.
This is where we come in. Lumière is the only platform available today that prioritizes curation and customization, all while providing our users with the most premier short films from around the globe. We have eliminated search costs and have made short film consumption enjoyable and easy.
Viewing the best short films should not be difficult and with Lumière, it’s not. We offer every user a bi-monthly, curated stream of five films based on each user’s personal interests, and this is all backed by an organized database of personalized channels and genres.
What does near-term success look like? How will you know if you’re on to something?
Near-term success focuses on converting early adopters to our All-Access monthly plan, strengthening our relationships with the short film community, and partnering with WashU in some capacity. We have aggressive, yet achievable, user base goals of 1,000 monthly paying users by August 2021.
We are prioritizing driving maximum traffic to our platform and building up our following on social media, specifically Instagram. We understand that it is going to take time to build our brand’s identity and drive high conversion and retention rates, so we are working hard to refine our platform where it is needed and expand our available inputs.
How did WashU Olin help you launch your company?
While we do believe there is great potential and utility in our platform, this belief will be validated through our users’ continued actions and feedback over time. Once we begin to see elevated levels of brand loyalty and engagement from both consumers and creators, we will know we are onto something.
Olin has been a great help in providing me with the necessary business frameworks, feedback, mentors and opportunities to succeed. I truly appreciate diverse thought, honest insight and high-level collaboration, and that is what Olin and the Olin community have provided for me.
Most recently, I have been working with a group of Olin MBA and undergrad professors to expand and diversify Lumière. These opportunities to collaborate with business minds at the forefront of innovation and societal advancement have provided me with unbelievably unique perspectives and insights on the entertainment/streaming industry and business in general.
My consistent interaction with these professors and mentors from the Olin community has played a pivotal role in the launch of our company and will continue to be important moving forward.
What was the inspiration?
We believe that the entertainment industry is overly politicized and oftentimes prioritizes big Hollywood names over innate quality of content. Additionally, short films are oftentimes overlooked and discarded in entertainment.
Lumière was created to combat these two trends and bring great short films and cinematic productions to the light. We want our users to have continued exposure to diverse storytelling and unique artforms that are not in circulation today. Simply put, we value the art of premier storytelling over all else.