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A local venture capital firm led fundraising to the tune of $2.3 million in seed investment for a local startup to develop and launch a subscription-based video sharing service.

Special Project is “a platform for video creators to independently launch their own subscription streaming service,” according to CEO Sam Lucas. Special grew out of Triple Tree Research, Inc., which Lucas and Paul Burton began while students at Montana State University.

“The way I think about it is Special is enabling anybody to launch their own Netflix, overnight,” Lucas said.

Next Frontier Capital led the investing and rallied other investors beginning last November, bringing the total seed investment to $2.3 million. However, not all that money came from Next Frontier — investment also came in from four additional venture capital firms from all over the country, according to Les Craig, a partner in Next Frontier.

Craig said Special was attractive to investors for a few reasons: the founders, the proven track record of Triple Tree, and, especially, timing.

“With the trends in digital media and digital content creation, we assessed the timing of this opportunity to be really perfect,” Craig said. “Especially given the very specific niche that Special Project is solving. They couldn’t be more focused on the creators.”

A variety of paywalled or subscription content sharing services already exist, like Patreon and OnlyFans. But Special is geared specifically toward video and will give creators more control over the presentation of their content than the alternatives, Lucas said.

“We chose that because video is by far the highest consumed media type,” he said.

Videos posted to the aforementioned services also aren’t findable using an indexed search engine like Google, but Special content will be. The platform will also have terms of service that will bar creators from uploading sexually explicit content, which OnlyFans is now infamous for.

“We’re trying to focus predominantly on entertainment, independent entertainment, and another subset of that would be infotainment,” Lucas said. “That’s the trending content genre of the internet right now.”

Special is in its early stages now, working with about 25 partner creators who are providing feedback and helping the company fine tune its platform before it’s publicly available. At some point, Lucas said, Special plans to roll out both a mobile app and a Smart TV app, so subscribers can watch content on phones and TVs.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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