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Thought Equity Provides Video Vault

Posted on Sunday, May 23
By Adam Cole News Editor

And you thought garage sales were just for lamp shades and old clothes.

Denver upstart Thought Equity, formed in May 2002, is giving new meaning to making other people's "trash" someone else's treasure. The company, run by 30-year-old Kevin Schaff, takes used footage from 386 different suppliers-ad agencies, production companies, etc.-and files them into a massive library of motion footage assets available for a fraction of the cost they originally took to create.

Sports montages, hysterical kung fu dramatizations and dancing penguins are just some of the ads available for the picking.

"There's all kinds of high quality stuff out there that either goes unused or is no longer used," said Schaff, who has partnered with Collegiate Images and is an official provider of licensed archived film and video images for the top 250 universities around the country. "Our basic goal is to aggregate that into one large online library so customers can view it in real-time."

Thought Equity is the result of a previous creative endeavor that began a decade ago. The entrepreneur prodigy created a small design firm, WindRiver, whose projects often got drastically altered when the big budget corporate clients decided to shift gears and take a new direction with the campaign. An inventory began to build up of unused, high-quality work, though the idea to digitize it and resell it online did not come until later.

After a short run building and selling a software company, Schaff felt it was time to apply the inventory re-sale concept of stock footage to Thought Equity.

"What Getty Images is to the online photo market, Thought Equity will be for motion footage," said Schaff, a University of Wyoming graduate. "We are very aggressively going after this segment of the market." Thought Equity's current inventory is at 25,000 assets. Schaff plans on increasing that number to 80,000 by the end of the year, which would make the company the largest compiler of stock footage.

Much of the work in the post-aggregation phase comes in the refinement process where the original ad is stripped down and all the reference material to the original ad is removed. This is done at a special footage refinery in Laramie, Wyo., also home to the company's data center. Once refinement is complete, a creative director steps in to approve the material and categorize it.

Schaff likens his company to a "big department store," a one-stop shop for anything dealing with footage. What's more, the company specializes in managing its footage assets so that there is only one company within a market running a given ad.

"We want it to be very user friendly," said Schaff. "Instead of a giant aggregate, we want people to be able to find what they need in a short period of time." Technology upgrades have made this real-time, motion footage search tool a possibility. Besides the Internet's greater presence, advances in storage capabilities have been essential.

According to Schaff, ten years ago, 1 gigabyte of storage would have cost nearly $15,000. Today, that number has lowered to around $3, a huge price drop. Thought Equity is presently adding 4 terabytes a month of storage and filling it up with content just as rapidly.

Still, Thought Equity can't keep up with the demand for its services. Currently, the company is experiencing $1 million in purchase requests a week, resulting in more demand than supply. But that will all change as Thought Equity increases its aggregation and storage capacity each month.

"Our goal is to continue to add inventory," said Schaff.

Thought Equity's success to date has a lot to do with its founder Schaff, a man with entrepreneurship in his blood and a strong vision for the future.

His advice: "Find something you're good at. Find a business you think will work and go for it."

For Schaff, that search is over.


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