Startmate-backed creative talent marketplace Dexta goes global

Startmate-backed creative talent marketplace Dexta goes global

Dexta founder Jack Phillips (Provided)

An on-demand production platform helping Australian creatives secure steady work has officially launched its service for agencies worldwide after spending months trialling its software with firms like NewsCorp, Projucer and Clockwork Films to upgrade its offering.

Founded in 2022 by Jack Phillips, Dexta allows businesses to find, book and pay professionals in film, TV and advertising. The service was inspired by the founder’s own struggles finding contactors, having previously led creative teams at Monocole Magazine and GQ Australia before starting production agency Snackable Media.

The official launch comes almost 11 months after the Sydney-based startup secured investment from leading Australian accelerator Startmate.

Speaking with Business News Australia, Phillips explained the platform was initially built by tapping into his producer network, as well as vetting a waitlist of more than 1,000 eager freelancers.

Dexta’s marketplace already has more than 700 skilled creatives and 100-plus businesses signed up.

“It's a super manual process for us at the moment. We're very picky about who we bring into the platform. We want to build trust and depth of the brand in the right way. Rather than there being 400,000 people, we [believe] less is more. We would rather people be booked more often through the platform,” he said.

“We see ourselves as service-enabled SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). There are people on the other end, we've got live forums with producers so we can make recommendations with people on our crew. We really know the people on the platform. It's like the next level of a service agency model.”

He added that feedback from large corporates earlier this year led to Dexta integrating a new payments system, dubbed DextaPay, that streamlines the payment process by collecting all compliance information from creatives when they sign up to the platform. 

“Originally, we thought the main pain point was the finding process. Traditionally, you've got producers and executive producers and the way they find crew is overtime they build up a black book of people that they like to use, or industry references. If they run out, then you’re left in a ‘no man's area’ where you're like: There's not really a go-to place in Australia,” Phillips explained.

“It's been really interesting in the way that the ATO and tax guidelines around gig workers and freelancers have changed and evolved over the last couple of years. What we've got from feedback from a lot of the bigger companies is that there's much more risk involved in our hiring freelancers - mainly around payment compliance to do with superannuation.

“That ended up being the big pain point that we were looking to address as well as creating a marketplace to find great vetted professionals. It's a two-part solution. It's the find and book process, but also the payment process which streamlines that for businesses.”

In order to generate revenue, Dexta takes a 10 per cent commission on all bookings from creatives, an 8 per cent booking fee from businesses, in addition to charging a small monthly fee for agencies wanting to access the database.

All creatives on the platform have full freedom to set the price they charge for projects.

According to Phillips, around 30 per cent of creatives signing up are based in Sydney, followed by Melbourne (20 per cent), Brisbane (15 per cent), and the remainder a mix from Perth, Darwin and Tasmania.

“It makes sense because it's the primary populations for creative production in Australia. It has been a core focus to look at those states and cities - it's primarily where most content production is made, especially in our kind of our remit,” he said.

“We cover film, TV and advertising, but the focus point is the advertising landscape. So that's really short-form projects – people are hired for anywhere between one to three days.”

Dexta’s launch also comes as streaming giants such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime, will be required to invest in making local Australian content under new policies from mid-2024.

The federal government will require the platforms to put a portion of their revenue back into the Australian film and television sector. While the legislation is yet to be determined, the sector has previously argued for 20 per cent of revenue to be pumped back into the local industry.

Keen to capitalise on the growing market, Phillips said he is looking raise funds in a seed round later this year.

“We see these early stages as a way of really trying to solidify our market product market fit…trying to get market tested is really important for me, especially before we scale like any of these kinds of technology platforms,” he said.

“No one else is really doing it. Certainly, no one's doing it in Australia, and no one's really nailed it in any other part of the world too. It is such an interesting industry to be a part of given the amount of money coming into production in Australia, the increase in streaming, content production, but also an explosion of freelance gig workers.

“For us, it's really about looking at: What can we learn here? What are really these key pain points and also how can we build a platform that can scale to other markets?”

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