KitSplit co-founder Kristina Budelis reveals how gear-sharing can make film projects a reality
KitSplit is an affordable gear rental service that matches kit owners with filmmakers and artists and has been described as "the Airbnb of cameras" by Forbes and No Film School. Renters can search across thousands of equipment owners, buy their shoot insurance on the spot and either pick up their kit or order it for delivery. Here Mandy News chats to one of KitSplit's co-founders, Kristina Budelis, about the advantages of using their brilliant service.
Kris, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I am the co-founder and president of KitSplit. Before I started that I was a video producer. I started at the video department of The New Yorker magazine and have a variety of freelance video production experience too. I did a wide range of videos but one of the things that I found was the frustration with my gear rental options and the gear rental process that was available to me. So I started KitSplit, essentially, as a way to solve my own problem.
Can you tell us a little bit more about how KitSplit works?
Yes, KitSplit is a gear rental platform; we’ve been called "the AirBnB of cameras", which is kind of a start-up cliché, but also really helpful in understanding what we do – we connect people and companies who need gear to people and companies who own gear.
It’s really easy to use: if you own gear, you can upload it to KitSplit online or just send us your list of gear and we’ll upload for you. Then you will get requests. Basically, it’s always up to you to say Yes or No to a specific request. One of the values we provide to owners is making sure that it’s easy and safe. We vet everyone who joins and also ensure that all gear rentals are insured, so that, as an owner, you don’t have to deal with paperwork or worrying about how and when to collect payment, or what will happen if something goes wrong. We take care of the details for you.
On the rental side, there are two ways you experience renting on KitSplit: one is you go online, search for what you need across our thousands of owners and request directly from the owner. You pay and get insurance instantly, online. We also have a really great customer service. We have what we call “Concierge service”, which is free, so you can just send KitSplit a list of gear that you need and we will find it for you, and send you the best option(s).
Our users find that we can save them a lot of time and money – which we’re always very excited to hear. Myself and my two co-founders, as well as the rest of the team, all have a background in video and film production – in one way or another – and we know that creators are often hustling and that there can be a high barrier to entries. So we’re really passionate about democratising access to gear rentals and to resources, more generally.
How would you say having the background in video and video production has helped you with this company?
Well, it helped me come up with the idea [laughs] and, because I am a user myself, I understand our audience. Also, because the company is made for and by creators, we’re really focused on making it a great, quality and trustworthy experience.
For example, we’ve placed a really high premium on having great customer service and quick response times. That comes, partly, from myself and my teammates really knowing ‘the other side’ – how stressful and confusing it can be – and really wanting to make it a lot more approachable and accessible.
What have been your highlights so far? Any members’ success stories that you can share?
Yes, we’ve heard a lot of awesome stories. One thing I always love hearing about is people who make back all of the money they’ve made on a certain item of gear through renting it out. Which is so awesome, because, you know, that means they can buy new gear or fund other parts of their life.
We’ve heard of people using the money they’ve made on KitSplit rentals to actually fund making a passion project! Helping fund a film that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to work on – wouldn’t have the resources to work on. So those kind of stories are super exciting.
There have also been some funny stories. For example, we’ve had people request from someone and then realise that the person is actually in the same building.
And there are stories of people meeting someone on KitSplit and then they end up working together, collaborating later on – or becoming friends.
We really do think of KitSplit as a community and are super excited about those stories of people connecting. Also, doing events and blog posts, and things like that, to really encourage community connections. There haven’t been any KitSplit marriages yet, but I feel like maybe it’s just a matter of time [laughs].
What’s next for KitSplit? Do you plan to expand?
Actually, one thing I should mention – which isn’t ‘next’, but it is ‘new’ – we’ve just launched the awesome new insurance programme, which is a lot more affordable than any other option in the industry, hands down. Insurance isn’t the sexiest topic, but anyone who’s made a film can tell you, it can be a real pinpoint – you need it for a lot of the production and it can be a huge hustle to get, and also really expensive. We’re super excited about saving our users a lot of time and money with that.
In terms of future plans, we’re launched in the US but have been primarily focused on New York and LA – NY being our first city – so we’re really focused on getting the word out throughout the country and building our community in other cities. Right now we’re focused on gear rental and dabbling in other things like insurance, and events and blogs and such, but – for the next year – we’re really excited about expanding to support our community in ways beyond just gear rental. And, hopefully, connect creators to resources and to each other.
What’s been the most rewarding part, so far, for you, personally?
Two things come to mind. One is just hearing positive feedback from the people who are using the site and hearing these stories of people saving time, saving money, and what that enables them to do. Particularly, the stories of people taking on their passion project, which they wouldn’t have had the time or the money to do. Or who were able to take on a job they wouldn’t have been able to do. That is so rewarding and so great to hear.
I also feel really lucky that we have this great team. It’s been really rewarding and amazing, along with my two co-founders, to hire this team and to help create a company, and see everything that my teammates are achieving.
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