From a vision formed between Derek Brown and Don Hunter, two lifelong friends, ten years ago to becoming one of the leading arts focused technology companies in the world, Acceptd has constantly pushed the boundaries of how technology is utilized. The past ten years of experience uniquely positioned Acceptd to lead its arts partners through a challenging 2020 audition season, allowing them to flourish, despite the circumstances.
The initial Acceptd product launched with two renowned Ohio-based programs, the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and Otterbein University. But word quickly spread about the value of Acceptd’s digital audition platform, and within the first year, they had scaled to over 125 clients worldwide. And things were just getting started.
“In the early years, it felt like the “wild west” … there were several startups out there doing something similar to Acceptd and we had to work so hard to earn and keep our clients,” said Operations Director Jerry Tsai. “We knew that our technology was needed in the arts community and once folks experienced our superior customer service that they would love working with us. Because of that, there was a constant pressure to keep grinding to get feedback from our clients and the industry, innovate regularly, improve our customer experience, and make sure that we set the standard in the space.”
Acceptd continued its rapid growth by repeatedly predicting the needs of the market over the next few years. Disrupting the historical industry practices came with its fair share of obstacles, but by 2019 Acceptd was cemented as the premiere application, recruiting, and marketing platform for the arts internationally.
As Acceptd was firing on all cylinders, empowering its clients across the world to thrive, 2020 hit hard and completely flipped the industry on its head — an effect it had on much of the world as we knew it.
Co-Founder and CEO Derek Brown recalls feeling the need to step up for the arts industry in a new way. “Performing arts particularly faced an uncertain future. Our mission has always been to help people flourish, and that wasn't going to pause because of the pandemic. We revisited that mission with a new lens and urgency. This drove us to introduce a new product to our stakeholders.”
From Broadway to higher-ed institutions, thousands of arts organizations were forced to make a decision: shift all of their programs to a virtual experience, or face the potential of shutting down completely." Acceptd was in a unique position to once again use technology to push the arts industry forward, this time by absolute necessity. Quicker than anyone could have anticipated, Acceptd launched a new, tailor-made product to address the needs of an industry in crisis: enter AuditionRoom.
With AuditionRoom, Acceptd provided a product that effectively offered a virtual solution to the in-person auditions that are so fundamental to the arts organizations from Hollywood and Broadway casting agencies to higher-ed institutions and everywhere in between. Not only does AuditionRoom make it possible for many programs to operate when they initially thought they may have to close down, but Acceptd’s Marketing, Recruiting, and Application products truly allow organizations to thrive.
Jeri Gaile, Director of the Spotlight Program at The Music Center in Los Angeles, reflects on a year where she faced closing down, but ultimately was able to work with the Acceptd suite of services to achieve the program’s third highest enrollment year ever. “I really don’t know what I would have done, I really feared that my program could have been shut down for the year, had it not been for Acceptd.” Gaile says, “I was so quickly able to shift and pivot to doing all of our work online: mastery classes, auditions, applications, the entire year. Everything is online.”
In a season of unprecedented challenge for the arts, Acceptd harnessed its 10 years of experience to lead the charge in the re-imagining of the industry. When asked about the future of Acceptd, Co-Founder and President Don Hunter couldn’t help but reminisce on the past and how 2020 shaped the path forward, “10 years is no small feat. I am incredibly proud of this team and grateful for our partners. We have accomplished a lot together and navigated one of the hardest years that we have faced as an industry. The way we all came together this past year further cements my confidence in the future of not only this company, but the arts as a whole, as we continue building toward being the number one centralized resource for the industry.”