Video Rental Prototype – Profitability from Day 1

During the height of the Covid hysteria, where children were home from school and camps were being cancelled, a colleague approached me with a creative idea.

Why not start launching virtual events where we bring entertainers like magicians or puppet shows into people’s living rooms?

Our target demographic is particular about what kind of content they allow in their homes (thus the name KosherFlix), and they needed a very specific set of requirements that were not being met by YouTube or Netflix.

Our competitive advantage is the fact that we have access to vast advertising network, which makes it easier to promote our new venture. It was a matter of iterating until we found success.

Our first attempt involved using 3rd party webinar software ( We quickly found that trying to do events with user interaction was fraught with problems – latency delays, performers with bad internet, it was too complex to be viable.

We then moved over to pre-recorded setups, using a premium Vimeo account. Relying on Vimeo for our video hosting, allowed us to focus on just the billing and access site, and I created a prototype in WordPress using the memberpress plugin, which allowed us to collect payments and give people access to videos for a limited amount of time.

This WordPress site really allowed us to validate our concept, and we made thousands of dollars in sales in just a few weeks. We discovered very insightful things like the fact that users still love buying live shows right before they happen. Last minute purchases for the win, right? But it gets weirder. We’d get a tone of people buying access to the show replay after it was over. Realizing this, we saw the potential of branching out from just live shows to also a library of videos for rent.

There were still some major issues with our prototype platform. Setting up new videos for sale took time and several steps. The checkout process wasn’t smooth enough, and we’d get messages from people who paid but couldn’t figure out how to watch their rental. Finally, we were collecting all the payments and then distributing monthly payments to the video creators. Not only was this an administrative nightmare, it was almost impossible to keep perfect records make the proper payouts.

It was time to build a custom solution.

Why not use Vimeo OTT? Because like most platforms, this solution was built for an end user. Some of the creators who we’ve signed up to our show actually have their own Viemo OTT accounts. But it wouldn’t work for our needs as a marketplace.

THe specs were simple:

  • We needed something where we could easily add a new creator account, and either they or us could easily add a new video for rent.
  • The checkout process should be simple and more transparent.
  • And the funds disbursement should occur automatically.

The result, after a few weeks of development, was the you see today. Built in React and Node, with a Firebase backend and credit card processing via Stripe Connect, it was bare bones but it did what we needed.

It still leaves a lot to be desired – a better design, coupons, other fancy features. But it gets the job done, providng the base of a viable business that has been successsful from day one and will hopefully continue to grow in the future.

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