Northside Innovation: Speaking With K.C. McLeod of Vyer Films

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Each month Northside Innovation, the tech and innovation conference that occurs during the annual Northside Festival, gathers top founders and thought leaders, who–over BBQ and Brooklyn Brewery Beer–speak on topics relevant to the community.

When searching for a successful founder to speak at Monday’s October Meetup, we wanted someone who represented what Northside Innovation celebrates: innovation, art, tech and entrepreneurship.  When we ran across K.C. McLeod, we knew we’d found our guy. McLeod’s company, Vyer Films, delivers four curated new films each month to subscribers.  It’s like your trusted, cultured best friend delivering fine art to your doorstep. Yes, please.

We chatted with McLeod about his company, Hollywood, the hardest part of his workday and his favorite Brooklyn haunt.

What exactly is Vyer Films?

Vyer Films curates and streams films for people who are ready to see something new. Essentially, if you’re 5, 15, or 25, Hollywood takes care of you. But just as you’re reaching the point in your life when you’re becoming interested in new, thematically richer, more complex stories, you’re on your own and you have a career, a family, all these others important things that occupy your time. Instead of making you scroll for half an hour through posters or alphabetical lists, like you might experience on Netflix or Movies On Demand, Vyer finds the best films from around the world, selects four of them to release each month, pairs them with features, and makes them available for streaming the first time. We spend our time searching for great things to see, so that when you want to see something new and unique, it’s right there waiting for you.

Fill in the blank: Vyer Films is like ____________, but for film. 

An art gallery. You might not care for every piece at an opening, but if just one piece speaks to you, your experience at the gallery is worth it. Moreover, having one piece resonate with you is encouragement to go back and look at the other work that didn’t initially catch your attention

How much growth has your company experienced?

This is the first startup I’ve been part of, so while I can’t compare our growth to other personal experiences, using Paul Graham of Y Combinator’s guidelines on how fast a startup should grow, I would say it’s been significant. He suggests shooting for 7 – 10% weekly revenue growth, and we’ve been averaging a little over that, 50% monthly revenue growth, for the past 7 months. That growth is only possible because of the commitment, intelligence, and savviness of my two colleagues, Meredith Wade (CMO) and Josh Johnson (Head of Acquisitions).

What particularly excites you about your company? 

Building a service that wants to fit into your life, not supplant it. So many services are about constantly “touching” their users, trying to draw a few more seconds of engagement, I assume with the end goal of they are too invested in one service to use a competitor’s. We don’t want our audience to “live” on Vyer Films, poking other Vyer members, rating movies, commenting on them. We want them to be able to see something wonderful and then go off and have dinner and have something really interesting to talk about with the friends and family they already have, that mean much more to them than an artificial environment might.

What’s the most difficult part of your workday?

There are always difficult parts to building something new, and most of those you get through because you see the meaning in what you’re creating. What is most difficult is when two meaningful objectives clash with each other. For me, that’s when filmmakers submit their work to Vyer Films and it’s very successful, but just not right for the experience we’re building at this time. I’m not even the one who tells them we’re passing, but it’s very hard, knowing the work and passion and money that goes into creation. There are times I’ve heard it in similar in the past, and regardless of the explanation you receive, there is always a moment of disappointment, and it’s difficult to disappoint the very crowd we hold in such esteem here at the company.

What’s the future looking like for Vyer Films? 

There are a number of exciting development in the near future for Vyer. We’ll soon be expanding onto set top boxes, beginning with Roku, and we’re also in the process of finalizing a few partnerships that would, without saying too much, expand the scope of the Vyer Films experience

Do you use an App often that improves your life and that not everyone knows about?

I enjoy using Noisli.com, which is a customizable background noise generator. It’s really a neat little tool to trick yourself into thinking it’s a rainy day when in actuality it’s gorgeous out so you can get some work done.

Do you have your eye on a Brooklyn filmmaker?

I think one of the most interesting films I’ve seen recently has been Aaron Schimberg’s Go Down Death! It has a style that recalls Samuel Beckett and is a wonderful reminder there are so many artistic traditions from which new filmmakers can draw. I’m very intrigued to see what he does next.

What Brooklyn neighborhood do you live in?  

I live in Greenpoint with my girlfriend and our menagerie of plants. Vyer’s office is right on the border between North Williamsburg and Greenpoint, so it makes for a nice, almost small-town walk to work every day.

Any favorite bar or restaurant in Brooklyn?

The Bounty on Greenpoint Ave. is a favorite, both as a restaurant and bar. They have probably one of the most talented and helpful bartender’s there I’ve ever encountered. My girlfriend and I also very much enjoy the newly opened Greenpoint Fish and Lobster, though we’ve never eaten there. They always have an incredible selection of seafood which makes it easy to pick something up that she’ll work wonders with, even when I get in her way by trying to help.

McLeod will be sharing his AHA moment – why he started Vyer Films – at Brooklyn Brewery on Monday, Oct 20th at 7pm.  Following his talk, esteemed investor Joanne Wilson will sit down with three Founders to discuss how they are managing growth of their companies – Caren Maio, Nestio; Kelsey Recht, Venue Book and Corie Hardee, Little Borrowed Dress.  For more on Northside Innovation, click here.

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