Dodles, an Appleton-based startup, is now testing an early version of an app that could shake up the animation industry.
Content creators, animators, educators and others can create custom animations through the company’s platform. The closed beta will run until early March, so these partners will give feedback from now until then so the dodles team can tweak what will be the final version of the app. An open beta will begin in January.
Users will eventually be able to license and sell their illustrations in a dodles marketplace, which company CEO Craig Doriot says should be up and running around February or March. He says the marketplace would improve upon the current industry model, where artists, animators, and authors are funneled through publishers, the media and advertising studios before they can make any money from their creativity.
“Dodles presents a new world of opportunity where creators can take their craft directly to their public and build a fanbase that is willing to pay directly for new uses of their work,” Doriot says.
Apart from acting as a licensing marketplace for animations, he says dodles — pronounced ‘DAW-dulz’ — is envisioned as a social platform people use to send chat messages and moving, looped images known as GIFs.
Doriot says the company has been engaging with creative communities like ComicCon to reach out to artists and graphic designers, getting them committed to using the platform at this early stage.
“That will help us drive the marketplace,” Doriot told WisBusiness.com. “People will be able to start animating without skills in that area… They can buy from [artists] and animate quickly with other people’s content.”
For early rollout strategy, he says the startup is still focused on getting the dodles tools into people’s hands, and is currently treating the platform as a supplement to other social media platforms.
“Early on, we’re trying to play nice in the social media realm,” he said. “We do expect long-term to be in that space with our own social platform built around these tools.”
The company raised a $300,000 angel round this past summer, and is actively seeking another round of investment. Doriot, who has invested $2 million directly into the startup, says he is looking to raise another $300,000 to $600,000 in angel or venture capital dollars.
“We’re very much in the thick of it now,” he said.
Longer term, he says he is looking for an ICO, or initial coin offering, to open up the field more broadly to public investment.
Compared to an IPO, or initial public offering, this strategy relies on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to avoid going through a traditional stock market, sidestepping certain regulations set by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Doriot says.
–By Alex Moe