Updated: Mar 28
Student filmmakers need their work to stand out. Film school can put the pressure on, where producing great work isn’t enough if the right people can’t easily discover it.
Eric Villa is the co-founder of Stuudeo, a streaming service that helps student filmmakers across the country showcase their latest works.
“Our core goal is to help student filmmakers build their careers and fully leverage the film school experience,” said Eric. “Right now, I think the economy is winner-take-all. With the internet, there is huge potential to change that.”
On Stuudeo’s website, visitors can browse various student films from rising filmmakers at different universities. It’s free for students to create their account, and easy for Stuudeo’s audience to connect with the student filmmakers featured.
Stuudeo also maintains a blog on their website, which shares valuable tips and advice for both current and aspiring film students.
Eric is a junior studying creative producing at DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media, with a focus on law, logistics and business.
Q: What was your inspiration in creating Stuudeo?
Eric: "I’m very passionate about the intersection of storytelling and technology. Even back in high school, I had this sense that technology could be used to reduce artist inequality.
In my first year of film school, I would see my peers and think to myself, ‘if I can help kids currently in film school find opportunities to build their careers, this would be a great starting place.’
Stuudeo started on Instagram, but soon after the pandemic hit, my co-founders and I realized the platform could be much bigger. We have been building the Stuudeo platform for the past two years, and the idea has morphed and grown so much.”
Q: What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur and pursue Stuudeo?
Eric: “For me, building is default. I had worked on a few projects with friends in high school, and when I came to DePaul, finding the next thing was a natural extension for me. I can’t just stop on an idea until I see it through. For me, it’s always been about putting one step forward, to try new ideas out.
For Stuudeo, the first iteration – the true minimum viable product – was simply reposting DePaul student films for friends and upperclassmen on Instagram. Over time, the idea evolved into a curated platform dedicated to showcasing full student films: first, the works of DePaul students, and soon after including works of students from other schools as well.”
Q: What specific skills have helped you the most in your entrepreneurial journey?
Eric: “One of the things I’ve learned is how important it is to have emotional intelligence; the ability to talk to a user, empathize with them, and get them comfortable to provide their honest feedback to you.
Working with engineers, it’s also extremely handy to have a basic understanding of certain hard skills. For example, committing time to resources like LinkedIn Learning to better understand SQL has paid off tremendously.
Something I’m improving on every day is, plainly, staying the course. I have a tendency to run to whatever idea is new and shiny. Asking questions like ‘what do the numbers say,’ or ‘what are the reasons to continue to move, or give up on this idea,’ has helped me a lot in this area.”
Q: What are your favorite aspects of being an entrepreneur?
Eric: “Through Stuudeo, I have met so many cool people. We’ve already helped connect student filmmakers at schools across the country, resulting in paid work and meaningful relationships for many. Recently, I helped a kid and NYU get a paid gig through a USC student by putting them in contact.
Working with my co-founders, Eoin and Greg, is incredible. I’m just the ideas guy, they have the ability to turn those ideas into products.
As an entrepreneur, I think it’s a lot easier focusing on really specific niches of people, rather than trying to build a product a billion people will use.”
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Eric: "Go to therapy. Learn how to manage your emotions. Mastery of the self goes a long way in not only dealing with the lows, but also removing your sense of self-worth from the success or failure of a project.
Having people to talk to along the way and share in your journey, like people who are also working on their own startup, is a good way to make sure building stays fun. There have been months at a time where Stuudeo hasn’t necessarily been fun, but that’s the importance of having friends who are also passionate about building.”