FilmDoo: From international film streaming service to interactive language learning platform

OKR Financial has the great pleasure of working with startups and SME founders who are making waves in all sorts of industries across Canada and UK. We created this Startup to Watch series to share the amazing companies we have met and worked with.

This month, we sat down with the team at FilmDoo, an edutainment platform that helps raise learning engagement and outcomes using film and video, to learn more about how this movie streaming service turned into a video learning platform.

Who are you? What does your company do and why?

I’m Weerada Sucharitkul the CEO & Founder of FilmDoo and FilmDoo Academy. We’re an edutainment platform that helps people increase learning engagement and improve learning outcomes using film and video. Given that we have one of the world’s largest international film catalogues, we are now using these films to help with language learning and corporate training, such as diversity & inclusion, and multicultural communications.

Who are your key people in the company?

The key people in FilmDoo include Rainie Liu, our Head of Edutainment Research & Linguistics. Rainie speaks English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Korean and is passionate about designing interactive language lessons over films and videos. Christina Learmonth, who is our Head of Content & Marketing, first joined as an intern and has gone on to become a key member of our management team, helping to grow our expanding international film catalogues. Julio Marmol Corbacho and Dave Page have also been key team members, helping us to develop exciting partnerships across film and education around the world. Last but not least, we have David Pountain who is our Blog Editor in Chief & Data Analyst and Charles Normsaskul who drives our video marketing efforts.

How did you come up with this idea?

FilmDoo first started off as a film streaming platform for independent and international films. About two years ago, we started to notice that over 80% of our traffic was actually coming from language-related searches. In a subsequent user survey, we found that over 70% of users said the number one reason they are watching a film on FilmDoo is because they are learning a foreign language.

That was our “lightning moment” when we realized that what we built could be much bigger than what we imagined – that we could leverage the power of films to help evoke empathy for people different from ourselves, to help drive learning engagement and to help with the understanding of more complex subjects, such as Diversity & Inclusion that are understood best when you have the social context to help you relate to the people on screen.

How does your company solve a problem?

In the language learning industry, there is an industry-wide problem of high dropout rates of 90%. However, the problem is so much bigger than just language learning, it’s also about how students today learn. The average Gen Z now spends at least four hours a day watching online content. Traditional teaching methods now struggle to keep these students engaged. Modern students respond well to film- and video-based learning – which is at the heart of FilmDoo.

In fact, in the corporate training space, we have actually seen significant impact in employees and trainees who are experiencing higher levels of engagement through gamified learning over films and videos which make the training sessions a lot more fun, interactive, and participative.

How is your company different from competitors?

Although there are other e-learning solutions out there, FilmDoo is the world’s first edutainment platform to combine online learning with an extensive and powerful international film catalogue. Our platform is truly an all-encompassing multi-purpose solution. Not only are we able to assist with supplying content, our edtech tool allows teachers and users to turn any film and video into an interactive game and lesson in just a few minutes.

In addition, most other learning platforms are linear, in that students will watch a video and then answer questions afterwards. Our edtech platform supports hundreds of players across different locations watching a film together while playing a game at the same time through dual screen gamification features. Learning has never been so easy and enjoyable!

What are your future plans?

As part of the Creative Europe Media Programme grant, which we have been awarded, we are now looking at expanding into Benelux, France and other European countries. We already have some great project partners on board, such as in Belgium, are currently part of the Start it @KBC accelerator program in Belgium as well as an alumni of both world-class accelerator programmes such as TechStars and 500 Global (previously 500 Startups).

On the technology side, we are looking to develop some really innovative technologies to elevate the user’s experience, such as our AI content recommender that can recommend films based on a user’s language level. In-film search is also becoming increasingly important so we are now exploring voice-to-text auto captioning as well as looking for more partners who can help us optimize the full potential to use film and video as learning content.

Do you have any tips for startups looking to grow?

The single most important thing is to have the right team and the right people around you who are aligned with your vision and just as committed to help you grow the business.  Without this key factor, it will be difficult to sustain and motivate your team and to keep your company thriving in the long run. Building a startup is a long, hard marathon – you don’t have room for anyone who is just along for the ride. Every leg must be peddling just as hard to get to the finish line.

What is your favourite thing about being a startup?

The most amazing thing about starting your own company is the opportunities you can create for other people. Since founding FilmDoo, we have created over 10 jobs and have had over 50 interns and volunteers helping us at various points in time. All our key senior staff have joined us as former interns who have stayed on with us. I have enjoyed seeing the professional and personal development of our junior staff – many of whom have now gone to be leaders in their respective fields.

In addition, at its very core, FilmDoo is a platform that helps underrepresented voices from around the world to be seen and heard. I am so proud of the fact that we have worked with over 3,000 filmmakers and producers around the world to help get their films seen and monetized to a global audience.  Some of these are films that would have never had the chance to be distributed within their own countries, nevermind globally.  At the same time, in the education space, I am very proud of what we’re doing to shake up traditional teaching and learning with some very exciting edutainment film- and video-based approaches.

What’s the unique opportunity that you identified in the market? Where do you envision the company in the next 3 -5 years? 

I believe that we are at the tipping point of the democratization of knowledge and learning.  Although there will always be a place for schools and higher educational institutions, learning across all subjects is becoming increasingly accessible to people all around the world through online platforms. This will become increasingly cost-effective as edtech companies scale.

At the same time, we will also see that the creation of teaching and learning content is no longer restricted to just academic institutions or curriculum specialists. We will see more user-generated content being created and increasingly used for teaching and learning. For example, we are already seeing some innovative trends where teachers are creating short videos on TikTok and their students can watch it there and share comments as part of homework.

As we have more content being created by different types of people, the quality of this content will need to be vetted or at least there will need to be a better system to help curate relevant and effective material. I believe we will start to see more companies going after this challenge as the thirst for lifelong learning – now easily accessible anywhere and anytime – experiences exponential growth.

We learned so much while talking with Weerada at FilmDoo and are looking forward to watching how FilmDoo will transform the film and education industries. If you’re a startup with an innovative solution or a story to share, reach out to us at [email protected] for a chance to be featured.

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