It’s been nearly a century since Walt Disney first introduced Mickey Mouse to the world. In the ensuing decades, Disney and the mythmakers of Hollywood have churned out storytelling franchises that are worth billions.
But the ways in which many of these mythmaking houses have kept track of the various characters they’ve come up with, and the partners they work with to have those characters live on in different forms, has been almost as antiquated as Steamboat Willie’s original 1928 animation.
Seeing an opportunity to give Hollywood’s licensing back-end an upgrade, Nate Cavanaugh, Karl Johan Vallner and Nikolai Tolkatshjov formed Brainbase in 2016.
The company, which raised $3 million from Struck Capital last month, sells an intellectual property licensing management tool and operates a marketplace where would-be vendors can meet license holders to pitch ideas on new products using intellectual property.
The financing also included investments from Tectonic Capital, Bonfire Ventures, Sterling Road and Watertower Ventures.
“Intellectual property licensing is fundamentally broken with the space dominated by a few players all dependent on legacy or homegrown infrastructure. In an environment where new brands are constantly emerging, the pervasiveness of social media enables them to become recognized on the world stage overnight,” said Adam B. Struck, founder and managing partner of Struck Capital.
Clients for the service already include Sanrio, which owns the “Hello Kitty“ brand.
The company also recently made a couple of senior leadership hires, which should help grow the business. Andrea Adelson, the former senior vice president of licensing at Fremantle — the production company and distributor of game shows like Family Feud, The Price Is Right and American Idol, is joining as the head of growth, and Ted Larkins, a former senior vice president and general manager of licensing agency CPLG North America, has joined as the company’s head of business development.
Brainbase also nabbed a new board member along with its financing. Ray Hatoyama, the chief executive of Hatoyama Studio and a director at the Japanese messaging company, LINE.
“We are excited and thankful to have a seasoned, global group of investors, advisors and customers supporting Brainbase’s mission,” said co-founder and CEO Nate Cavanaugh. “Our vision of building a product ecosystem for licensing management and monetization is resonating well across the industry. Our team is going to remain obsessed with building the best licensing technology platform and providing a great customer experience,” he added. “Those are ultimately the things that matter.”