Posted on Sunday, May 23
By Adam Cole
TechDenver.com 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
"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
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
"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,"
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.
Ferhad Bazyar contributed to this story.
- TechDenver would like to thank neo for contributing to this article.