Industry standard

How a short film streaming platform is redefining the industry standard with Microsoft backing for startups

With the growing demand for short videos on streaming and social media, the world has a much bigger appetite for high-quality content that is less than 20 minutes long. But with shorts mostly released at festivals around the world, Janvier Wete, CEO and Founder of Minute Shorts, saw an opportunity to make festival-quality content more widely accessible and generate revenue for shorts.

After feeling frustrated with the process of submitting his own short film to festivals in 2017, Wete wondered if he could create a platform to distribute the film and pave the way for others to reach a wider audience. At the time, most short filmmakers couldn’t distribute their work until they had created a bigger-budget film. Wete saw how these barriers prevented many talented filmmakers from sharing their work with the world, especially diverse filmmakers.

Inspired by how Spotify provided a platform for independent artists, Wete launched the first version of the Minute Shorts app in 2018 and began welcoming submissions. It didn’t take long for him to need more support to evolve Minute Shorts, so he joined the Microsoft Founders Hub for Startups. Wete shares his journey as an entrepreneur:

Starting a tech business without a tech background

Wete began his career in the film industry at age 20 when he sold the pilot for a reality TV show called ‘Made in Brixton’. After working at renowned media companies such as Channel 4 and Vice Media, Wete found himself in 2017 as a filmmaker with an idea, but needed the technical skills to bring his idea to fruition. As a non-technical founder, Wete had a steep learning curve when it came to starting a tech business.

“I posted on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram saying I had an amazing idea, but I needed to connect with someone who could code it. The only responses I got were from agencies that were trying to charge me way too much money to build my app. Then I asked a question on Quora, and a guy called Julian replied and suggested we meet for coffee to discuss my idea.

Like many other first-time founders, Wete needed to learn entrepreneurship and gain management skills. Wete took advantage of the Founders Hub to train quickly and at no cost. “I would strongly advise founders who are just starting out to join Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub, as it provides you with information that is usually hard to find when getting started in the startup industry. If you joined, I would say you take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way because you never know who you might meet,” Wete explained.

Find the tips for solving big business challenges

As Minute Shorts began to grow, Wete found himself experiencing impostor syndrome around management and business leadership. Wete began the journey of finding a mentor by using Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub, which has a comprehensive network of experts and entrepreneurs to support startup founders. “The amount of networking and insightful events was amazing for me as it helped me meet the right kind of people I needed to gain more knowledge in the startup ecosystem,” Wete said.

Once Wete found his mentor — who became a non-executive director of the company — he was able to focus his strengths on what he does best: creating solutions.

Keep the app free with help from Azure

In the early days of the app, Wete and the developers decided to host Minute Shorts on Azure. “There were a number of factors in that decision,” he said. “The overall cost of developing and maintaining the solution, coupled with the product mix offered for a video streaming solution and the intuitive dashboard, were critical.” Through the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub, Wete and his team were able to take advantage of access to free Azure credits to build his product at a reduced cost, as well as access to GitHub and many other Microsoft products to take informed decisions on resource allocation.

The app remains free to viewers and generates revenue through live events and content offerings.

If you’re an entrepreneur in the early stages of your journey or trying to scale your business, Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub can help support your mission with invaluable tools, community, and resources. Learn more about Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub and join us today!

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Microsoft for Startups.