Step Inside. Be Discovered. That is the tag line of online discovery platform AuditionBooth, co-founded by former "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul to connect aspiring talents with casting directors, producers and managers.
A beta test site rolls out on Monday, allowing showbiz rookies to answer casting questions and record and, if necessary, re-record -- casting videos via webcams.
Fox reality series "MasterChef" is among the first of about two dozen or so high-profile shows that the founders say will be seeking talent on the site in the early going. There are also audition opportunities for such partners as Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo, TV producer Reveille, and women's clothing firm Dots, which is working on a brand campaign with singer Jordin Sparks.
Abdul, also an equity partner and board member, put together inspirational videos and audition advice on a part of the site called Paula's Blog. For entertainment professionals, she hopes the site can provide "fresh new personalities."
Also on board AuditionBooth are company president and chairman Frank Celli; and Greg Brill, founder and CEO of Infusion Development, a technology training and consulting firm.
Casting decision-makers can search and sort submissions based on various criteria, screen and comment on them and share with colleagues. The site's community can also use a "like" button and comments to express their take on certain members.
Use of the site by casting folks, producers and aspiring talents is free. However, talent must register, and the founders hope to get a growing number of users to sign up for a paid upgrade to premium service that helps improve people's opportunities to be noticed by entertainment industry folks.
"Casting has been done the same old way as 20 or 30 years ago, and people have been screaming for a real intelligent solution with real business tools," Brill said. "And they want to reach beyond the traditional markets of New York and L.A. People tell us they are fighting over the same set of people."
While other web sites list talent opportunities and sometimes even allow people to submit applications, Celli said he sees his firm having a leg up thanks to Abdul's appeal and the technology. "Our proprietary technology that connects unique individuals to industry professionals is as important as the casting relationships we bring to the table, and we're eager to say you'll be seeing AuditionBooth members on screens very soon," he said.
AuditionBooth has raised $4 million in seed funding by angel investors and has another $2 million available for future use. The founders estimate the firm will reach about 125,000 paid subscribers after one year and reach positive cash flow by December 2011 and about 700,000 subscribers and $172 million in revenue by its seventh year. It plans to make money via premium memberships, sponsorships/ads and licensing of its technology.
"We want to be the Hulu of casting," Brill said.