JE014: the update issue three // Test City, USA preview

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Jay Clouse 0:00
The startup investment landscape is changing, and world class companies are being built outside of Silicon Valley. We find them, talk with them, and discuss the upside of investing in them. Welcome to Upside.

Eric Hornung 0:28
Jay, you are looking fit, very fit today.

Jay Clouse 0:32
Would you say that I’m looking skinny?

Eric Hornung 0:34
I’d say you’re looking skinny. Yeah. In the words of heavyweights, “You’re looking skinny, Tony.”

Jay Clouse 0:39
Skinny, Tony?

Eric Hornung 0:40
Yeah, I — have you ever seen heavyweights?

Jay Clouse 0:41

Eric Hornung 0:42
Well, it’s a very classic movie, and… Anyway, that reference went over your head. What probably didn’t go over your head is that this announcement right now, this isn’t a full episode. This is a quick announcement about the update V3, which is a very skinny version of the update.

Jay Clouse 0:59
Skinny episode, skinny update on the skinny Update. And speaking of classic movies, we want to talk to you about our documentary, our first foray into film, ‘Test City, USA,’ which we thought we would be sharing, in the Update issue 3, publicly through our YouTube channel. And Eric, that’s not going to happen.

Eric Hornung 1:26
Jay, it’s crazy, because we thought a lot of things with this film. I mean, when we first came up with this concept, this was an audio only concept that was going to take content we had already produced on the podcast, split it into an ecosystem-only format, and do an audio documentary. Then, we said, okay, you know what, I think visual’s probably better. So let’s try to put together a 20 to 30 minute pilot. Then, we were blindsided by the brilliance that was and is Kyle Skinner. It’s really been a complete and utter strategic failure from you and my perspective to know how well this thing was going to turn out.

Jay Clouse 2:02
Yeah, when you plan your editorial calendar around assumptions that turn out to be wrong, well, your editorial calendar has to change. And here we find ourselves deep into September, which means we’re in Q3. And, as you guys know, if you’ve been following us for a while, we release the update, a written publication, once a quarter. And so, we’re in Q3, we thought that in Q3 we’d be sharing our documentary. And because Kyle killed it, our intern for the summer and budding filmmaker, made this film from a 20 to 30 minute demo or pilot that we thought it would be into a full length, 90-minute feature documentary, that — spoiler — got into a film festival, now we’re a little hand-strung, our hands are a little bit tied on what we can share and when we can share that documentary.

Eric Hornung 2:48
It’s crazy, the world of film festivals, Jay, I knew nothing about it.

Jay Clouse 2:52

Eric Hornung 2:52
And then, all of a sudden, we’re in it. And we’re standing up front in front of an audience of 200-plus people answering questions about a film we made.

Jay Clouse 2:59
Right. So far, getting into film festivals seems very easy, and according to our research, that is not going to continue. But, to this point, the film itself, ‘Test City, USA,’ there is an undeniable energy and momentum in the growing startup ecosystem here in Columbus, Ohio, in my opinion. And so, ‘Test City, USA’ is our documentary exploring this moment in time in 2019 for Columbus, Ohio, how the ecosystem here has evolved, and the challenges of what is to come next. I genuinely believe, living here for the last 10 years, this is a very unique time for Columbus. And I had the opportunity to interview 27 individuals, stakeholders, from all walks of life in the ecosystem this summer, and we whittled that down to 90 minutes of film, which we’re very excited to share with you. But, to your point, Eric…

Eric Hornung 3:48
There are some challenges that come next.

Jay Clouse 3:49
There are some challenges and rules that come next. And the first challenge and rule that we came across was when we said, this is good, we should do a screening of this, and we should do it at one of the local theaters. Here in Columbus, we have one of the longest running, independent theaters in the country that really supports independent film. So I got an intro to their president there, and I met, and I said, Chris, what would it look like to do this film, and he says, that’s something we do for local filmmakers, and you can do that. But if you guys have aspirations for film festivals, they will not accept submissions of films that have been publicly, theatrically aired. And to do it in a theater would theatrically air that film. So to protect our ability to go into film festivals, we applied to a film festival, the Film Festival of Columbus, which just so happened to be the following month, and we hit the timing perfectly to be able to apply and submit and be considered for that Film Festival. Got in and we aired that film for the first time, premiered it, on September 12, at the Gateway Film Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Eric Hornung 4:51
And it was awesome. It was a ton of fun. We had a ton of people there. The city of Columbus, the Columbus community really showed out for the film. We had some fantastic reception. And all that being said, dear listener, we cannot share it with you still.

Jay Clouse 5:06
That’s right. The festival sold out. Our film sold out in the largest theater at the Gateway Film Center. We had a dedicated lounge for patrons of our film for an hour before we headed into the theater. Got really good reception, people laughed, they clapped.

Eric Hornung 5:19
They laughed, they clapped. I think some people cried, but that might have just been you.

Jay Clouse 5:23
There was also a child in the audience. At one point, he yelled “Daddy!” on someone who’s in the film that does not have any children. So that was interesting. But yeah, we laughed, we cried, we nervously clenched our girlfriends’ hands for an hour and a half.

Eric Hornung 5:37
And you know, here’s the thing. If you’re listening to this, you’re not gonna be able to see the film right now. But we did want to put out version 3 of the update, issue 3 of the update. And we’re going to do something that’s a little behind the scenes. Jay, what are we going to do?

Jay Clouse 5:50
So, in issue 3 of the update, the skinny update, as Eric already said, we have a co-written, editorial about the process of creating this film and a a little bit of behind the scenes information about the film. And our commitment to you, dear listener, is that you will be able to see this film as soon as we can publicly share it online. And we want to give you a heads up as soon as that is possible. So within that editorial, there’s a place where you can enter your email address, be the first one to receive that email to know that the film is viewable. You can also go to and sign up there to get that film sent to you or get a notification for when you can view it. But that’s the update V3, Eric, is talking about the documentary.

Eric Hornung 6:31
That’s it. It’s a quick one, it’s an easy one. We hope you guys are having a great week, and we hope that you enjoy a little bit of background about ‘Test City, USA.’

Jay Clouse 6:40
So go to, it’s linked in the show notes, that’ll show you the editorial. You can enter your email address, you can be the first to know when the film is publicly available to you. And I also have a little behind the scenes: know that update issue 4 will hopefully be on time, and hopefully according to plan, and also extremely high impact, exciting stuff that we have planned for that version of the update.

A short episode this week discussing our latest issue of the update. The update is a quarterly publication that usually features editorials, trends, and stories happening outside of Silicon Valley.

We had big plans for this issue of the update, namely sharing our documentary, “Test City, USA” with you. But, complications arose and timelines changed, so the update issue three is a “skinny” version of itself.

Tune into the episode to hear more and read the update issue three for a full behind-the-scenes look at how we produced a documentary in less than four months and where we plan to go from here.

There is undeniable energy and momentum in the growing startup ecosystem of Columbus, Ohio. ‘Test City, USA’ explores this moment in time for the city, how the ecosystem evolved, and the challenges of what comes next.

WINNER: 2019 Best Ohio Feature by the Film Festival of Columbus

Directed by: Kyle Skinner
Produced by: Jay Clouse

A film by The Up Company

Read the update issue three:
Learn more about Test City, USA:
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