Bondit Co-Founders Believe Funding Can Be as Creative As Storytelling |

Trending 4 months ago

It is often said that nan concealed to becoming a successful entrepreneur is uncovering a request and filling it. When Santa Monica-based BondIt Media Capital launched successful 2013, it zeroed successful connected nan deposits productions must time off pinch SAG-AFTRA, DGA, IATSE and different guilds to guarantee that their members get paid successful a timely fashion. 

The institution co-founders — CEO Matthew Helderman and COO Luke Taylor — knew from their acquisition moving successful nan accumulation trenches that these deposits, which sometimes return up to six months to beryllium returned, tin create a important rate travel problem for low-budget projects during main photography. 

So they decided to connection a deal: producers would salary nan unions, past BondIt would reimburse their rate outlay, minus a interest (typically 12%-15%), and cod nan deposits erstwhile they were returned.

It wasn’t exciting, it wasn’t big-time, but it was a ft successful nan door.

“No different financiers cared astir it arsenic a superior endeavor,” says Helderman. “It’s conscionable excessively small.”

Ten years later, BondIt has grown significantly, having straight invested much than $275 cardinal crossed upwards of 400 movie and tv productions and 50 firm media transactions encompassing unscripted TV, unrecorded music, master sports, podcasts and integer content. 

Along nan way, BondIt’s projects person earned awards astatine awesome festivals (e.g., a Grand Special Prize astatine nan Deauville fest for 2016’s “Little Men”), an Oscar information (best animated characteristic for 2017’s “Loving Vincent”) and an Emmy (2021’s “Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street”).

With “Little Men,” BondIt took a large measurement guardant successful position of some consequence and reward. The movie is co-writer/director Ira Sachs’ coming-of-age play astir a 13-year-old New York City transplant (Theo Taplitz), who strikes up a relationship pinch a chap teen (Michael Barbieri) surviving successful nan dress shop beneath his
Brooklyn apartment.

The task came to BondIt done WME, which needed to complete nan film’s financing puzzle truthful its producers could return advantage of co-star Greg Kinnear’s constricted model of availability. The movie went connected to premiere astatine nan Sundance Film Festival, people a distribution woody pinch Magnolia Pictures and gain wide captious praise.

“The company’s sanction is successful nan credits, nan teams’ names are successful nan credits and we financed a bully chunk of it,” says Helderman.

A fewer years later, “Street Gang” seemed for illustration a safe financing bet: a documentary astir a beloved, long-running children’s programme packed pinch iconic characters that already had a distribution connection from a streaming service. But that connection fell through, and abruptly BondIt recovered itself successful a precarious position.

“They didn’t backmost out. They didn’t threaten,” says Brian O’Shea of nan Exchange, nan film’s worldwide income agent, who executive produced alongside Helderman, Taylor and a fistful of others. “They were level-headed astir allowing maine to find a replacement workplace and get them retired of a consequence position.”

“Street Gang” premiered astatine Sundance and went connected to person a constricted theatrical merchandise earlier making its streaming debut connected HBO Max. In October 2022, it won a News & Documentary Emmy for arts & civilization documentary.

BondIt was besides progressive successful nan making of 2022’s “Clerks III.” When he was increasing up, Taylor was a immense instrumentality of Kevin Smith, truthful he considers it a constituent of pridefulness that his institution was capable to play a pivotal domiciled successful nan director’s 2nd sequel to his 1994 breakthrough film.

The producers didn’t person completion guarantee security connected nan film, truthful BondIt stepped successful to screen nan accumulation consequence alongside Three Point Capital, pinch nan pre-sale to Lionsgate and nan New Jersey State Film taxation in installments serving arsenic collateral.

Throughout its heady growth, BondIt has built up a patient unchangeable of returning customers who admit their willingness to move quickly and decisively.

“Sometimes, it takes up to 2 months to adjacent pinch organization lenders,” says Highland CEO and founding partner Arianne Fraser, who astir precocious worked pinch BondIt connected nan movie “Blood for Dust.” “With them, I deliberation it took 3 weeks.”

Helderman and Taylor first met arsenic precocious schoolhouse students successful Connecticut done Helderman’s then-girlfriend (and now wife), who was champion friends pinch Taylor’s sister. In nan summertime of 2010, betwixt his inferior and elder years astatine Lake Forest College, Helderman changeable nan low-budget comedy-drama “The Alumni Chapter” successful and astir Chicago, directing from his ain script. 

The pursuing spring, he flew to Los Angeles and teamed pinch Taylor, who was moving connected his bachelor’s grade connected nan euphony manufacture astatine USC, and spent a week taking meetings pinch income companies and distributors. Their efforts resulted successful nan duo founding accumulation institution Buffalo8.

Following graduation successful May 2011, Helderman relocated to Los Angeles and he and Taylor began pursuing movie jobs successful earnest, starting arsenic accumulation assistants and quickly moving their measurement up to gigs arsenic accumulation managers, adjunct board and statement producers connected low-budget films. It wasn’t agelong earlier they decided to commencement trading themselves arsenic a accumulation services institution nether nan Buffalo8 brand. 

Tapping a family friend for capital, nan duo made investments successful a fistful of films complete nan adjacent 3 years. While they enjoyed immoderate occurrence connected nan show circuit, placing 3 films astatine Sundance, 1 astatine Berlin and 1 astatine Toronto, nan large game-changing breakthrough ne'er came. 

That’s erstwhile they decided to recovered BondIt.

“We realized we should build retired a finance institution to capable nan void near by nan commercialized banks, accepted hedge funds, backstage equity that don’t want to get their hands soiled and walk a ton of clip successful entertainment,” explains Helderman.

Initially backed by 3 high-net-worth individuals, BondIt serviced 52 films successful their first twelvemonth successful business. Eager to standard up and make bigger bets utilizing nan likes of distribution agreements and taxation credits arsenic collateral, they hired Patrick DePeters arsenic CFO (succeeded by existent CFO Don McGreal successful 2019) and went connected a roadshow, pitching imaginable investors, from family companies to pension funds. Eventually, they struck a woody pinch Toronto-based Accord Financial, which purchased a 51% liking successful BondIt successful July 2017.

With a patient in installments installation successful spot from Accord, BondIt was capable to return advantage of nan streaming contented detonation and importantly ramp up its business. When nan pandemic deed successful 2020, it was capable to measurement successful for accepted organization lenders unwilling to enarthrosis nan consequence of accumulation shutdowns.

Inevitably, successful nan fast-moving world of independent finance, immoderate films service arsenic reminders of nan challenges and risks of nan independent movie accumulation sector. BondIt boarded nan “Rust” accumulation successful New Mexico successful a elemental elder indebtedness financing capacity against nan project’s distribution rights, but, owed to its highly constricted engagement only successful nan film’s financial structure, BondIt has ne'er faced immoderate civilian aliases criminal charges aliases accusations.

“During nan pandemic, [BondIt’s] business tripled successful size, which turned retired to beryllium hugely beneficial to america because done that period, nan remainder of our business was stagnant,” says Simon Hitzig, president and CEO of Accord Financial.

Through it all, nan Helderman and Taylor business has remained nan halfway of BondIt’s business. “I deliberation what really makes america truthful nimble and agile is that we some person fundamentally worn each chapeau you tin ideate while building and moving a company,” says Taylor. 

(The BondIt Team, pictured above, includes, from left, Don McGreal, Grady Craig, Thomas Mann, COO Luke Taylor, CEO Matthew Helderman, Ella Wahlestedt and Tyler Gould.)