It’s called BondIt

Matthew Helderman ’11 is solving a big problem faced by producers in the independent film industry. It has to do with money.

Along with co-founder Luke Taylor, Helderman created BondIt, an internet-based service designed to help low-budget filmmakers cover the pre-production security deposit they are required to handover to unions as a promise to pay actors, laborers, and other employees. The bond is usually a crippling amount of money for these independents, leaving them strapped for cash during production, and it’s typically not returned to them until 90-100 days after production to make sure employees have been paid. 

This is a half a billion-dollar industry in the United States. So, it was no surprise that 98 percent of the 200 producers and companies that Helderman surveyed during the market research phase of his enterprise indicated that they would—absolutely—be proponents of a service that would front the deposit for them.

In fact, they wanted the service yesterday, so “we had to work intensely with our investors and engineers to rush to get to market to fill the demand as quickly as possible,” said Helderman, who studied English and philosophy at the College.

Business is good. In the first quarter, they experienced a demand of $1.8 million in deposits and they are about to surpass that amount in the second quarter. Their investors include an early stage Venture Capital firm. Serial entrepreneur and investor Stephen Meade of 1990’s fame VirtualSellers—which became Amazon Shopping Cart and the foundational technology for PayPal—is the company advisor.

They are investing in more technology to further streamline their cash-flow process. They also were featured in The Hollywood Reporter in April, and about a month ago, successful independent film producer Ted Hope (21 Grams, American Splendor, Welcome to the Dollhouse) started publishing blog posts written by Helderman and Taylor about BondIt. This exposure quickly doubled their user base and boosted visibility dramatically.

Next? Perhaps expanding the business internationally.

Helderman and Taylor also founded the film and commercial production company Buffalo 8 in 2010.