By Martin Kidston
A growing Missoula company that provides filmmakers with a platform to promote their work to a global audience has teamed up with GoDaddy in a new video contest aimed at promoting small businesses.
The Audience Awards, headquartered in Missoula, has also added four new employees to its local team and made several significant hires to expand its national presence.
Paige Williams, founder and CEO of the Audience Awards, said her company has partnered with GoDaddy to host a new online video contest. The event will award $21,500 in cash prizes to the best documentary short featuring a small community business and the people working to make it successful.
“Each film tells the story of a great entrepreneur who’s doing a great job building and running a business,” Williams said Monday. “We’re the platform that will host this contest.”
The partnership with GoDaddy marks the fifth time the Audience Awards has struck a relationship with an international brand. GoDaddy will feature the selected content on its small business blog, otherwise known as the Garage.
In the past, the Audience Awards has partnered with IBM, Kodak, Hilton and Univision.
“A lot of it is referrals and references from other things we’ve done,” said Williams. “We ran a women’s startup challenge that was hosted in San Francisco, and IBM awarded cloud credits to the winning female entrepreneur. That dinner afterwords is where I met Chris (Carfi) from GoDaddy. It leads to other business opportunities.”
Carfi serves as GoDaddy’s director of content marketing and frequently visits Montana.
At a round-table discussion earlier this year, Williams detailed the challenges of running a national business from Missoula – a challenge that included air service and the cost of commuting to the nation’s metropolitan sectors.
Since then, however, Williams has worked to overcome the challenge by hiring two senior level sales representatives, one based in New York City and the other in Los Angeles. It also hired Kellie Goldstein as its chief operating officer.
Goldstein, who is based in Washington, D.C., formerly served as CFO and senior vice president of the Travel Channel.
“That challenge is not as big of a deal now, because it’s not me out there traveling and selling as much,” Williams said. “(Goldstein) has opened the doors to a lot of different networks. We now have three satellite offices outside Missoula.”
Over the past week, Williams said, the Audience Awards has also added four new employees to its Missoula-based roster. The additions bring to six the number of full-time employees in Missoula.
The company also employs five part-time workers, Williams said.
“We’re growing and scaling,” she added. “Two of our most recent hires are University of Montana graduates. It’s cool to provide great jobs to young people who are excited to build something special that has a mission.”
Williams described her company as an online platform that provides filmmakers the opportunity to get their work seen by a wider audience. It also works with various corporate brands and hosts film-festival premiers, where filmmakers can earn distribution deals.
Much of the company’s recent efforts have been focused on entrepreneurs, business-startups and women. Giving people a chance remains part of the Audience Award’s mission.
“We’re a mission-driven company whose goal is to promote small businesses,” said Williams. “Every filmmaker is a small business entrepreneur. We’re helping women, minority filmmakers and advancing folks that don’t get featured a lot. It’s what makes it so exciting to wake up every day and do this.”
In the coming months, the Audience Awards will launch a women’s film challenge that addresses the disparity of women in film. It already has landed several partners in the effort.
The company will also host its Audience Awards film festival in Los Angeles in April. YouTube is on board, giving filmmakers another chance to expand their artistic efforts to a vast digital audience.
Over the next year, Williams sees more growth for the Audience Awards.
“It’s all about finding great people and building an awesome team,” she said. “I believed in this from the beginning, which is why I did it. There are so many people who tell you no, but you keep going. Growing a business is daily execution. If you’re executing the vision of the business daily, the business will succeed.”
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at firstname.lastname@example.org