Lacey Kaelani

Co-Founder of Casting Depot

Antler US portfolio company Casting Depot, the professional network in media and entertainment, is emerging as the industry’s premier marketplace for all facets of the on-camera talent booking process. Co-founders Lacey Kaelani and Brad Larson have led Casting Depot through a 446% month over month increase in talent user growth. Through a suite of workflow tools, Casting Depot enables users to post gigs, process payroll and manage legal documents. The platform fields casting calls from industry players like Netflix, HBOMax, Twitch, Bumble, Verizon, and MTV.

Where did the idea for Casting Depot come from?

In 2019, Casting Depot became a prominent casting company generating content for a handful of Fortune 500 companies such as MTV, Buzzfeed, Hearst Media, HGTV, Bustle Digital Group, and more. What became increasingly frustrating was the inefficiency within the talent-booking process and the closed access to opportunities in the media and entertainment sector. Why does this feel like an archaic industry stuck in the 90’s? Why is there not a centralized source for every type of on-camera opportunity? And voilá — Casting Depot was born.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical WFH morning starts with a cup of coffee and a check in with my team. From there, I build and prioritize my to-do list with the intent of diving straight in.

Throughout the day you can find the team cracking jokes, sending memes and having lively conversations about product features.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The workflow is generally as such:
1) We discuss the problem set asking ourselves – how will this impact our core competency?
2) We brainstorm the solution through in-depth research and Q&A with users.
3) We design a mockup and readjust.
4) We build the product.
5) We roll out the product.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The streaming wars excite me. The growth and change in content consumption is forcing major companies to pivot their model. This directly impacts how talent-booking works and the volume and pace in which it works at.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Building a to-do list is the most important habit I’ve incorporated into my life as an entrepreneur. There are only moving parts in a startup and it’s crucial to keep yourself on track.

Pro tip – something unique on my to-do list is that at the top of it written out says “how does this impact revenue and KPI’s?” This reminds me to prioritize tasks in my day accordingly. It makes crazy long to-do lists less scary.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Binge the show. It’s fine.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

In & Out over Shake Shack any day.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Hire people smarter than you. The early days in my MBA I had a professor who stressed this often. I’m extremely proud to say that everyone on my team – from engineers to advisors – are significantly smarter than me in their area of expertise. Every team member at Casting Depot brings tremendous value to the table. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Building a branding guide early on was an excellent building block to ensuring success. As our team grows, it’s helpful to have a living, breathing and working document that outlines our identity, values, and tone. This way we always have something to refer to when building new feature sets.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I had a tiny startup in college that didn’t get off the ground. I was extremely passionate about the space but didn’t do enough research before beginning to build the product. Had I done so, the outcome would have been different. My advice: do your research, know your competitors and build a strong MOAT.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Someone should take another shot at the Quibi business model. The future of content is short-form, digital and mobile. I think Quibi was the right product, just too forward thinking. At least for now.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 I spent was on a new desk chair. Obviously working from home has lead me to invest in at-home products that will boost my productivity.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Our favorite services are Discord, Clubhouse.IO, and Superhuman. Our team is pretty adventurous with the tools we use in our workflow process and we love to use other startup products.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

If you’re interested in the FOW and want insight from one of the leaders in this realm, I’d recommend Jeff Wald’s “The End of Jobs: The Rise of On-Demand Workers and Agile Corporations” – it’s a great read.

What is your favorite quote?

A very close friend once told me, “make decisions fast, execute faster”. Being a founder is difficult. You’re constantly faced with making tough decisions that’ll ultimately better the health and success of the company you’ve built and you have to be willing to act on them.

Key Learnings:

  • Hire smart people.
  • Use to-do lists.
  • Take time to binge the show.