Karen Dewey: From Executive Producer To Start-Up Founder



With only 7% of venture capitalists backing women-led startups (Forbes), Lumi.Media is a rare gem among tech companies. At the helm is Karen Dewey, one of Australia’s leading executive television producers with an impressive CV spanning Nine Network, Channel 7, Channel 10, SBS, ABC and more. Refreshingly, Karen is nothing like the ‘dude bro’ tech founders of Silicon Valley. In fact, only a forward-thinking producer could have come up with the company’s flagship software product, Lumi.


You spent decades managing big teams as a television producer. What made you decide to found your own tech start-up?

It started with a very simple idea that grew into something much bigger. And the more we talked about it, the more we realised we were onto something and the more support we received. I had never even considered moving into tech, or into a startup. I wasn’t motivated by the business side of things. I was motivated to pursue an innovative idea that could make a big difference.

Tell us about Lumi. How is it streamlining the creative process for content-makers?


Lumi.Media is a dynamic content production hub that connects teams and brings everything into one place. We maximise resources, budgets and people by reducing the duplication, miscommunication and inefficient distribution methods of old TV and movie production processes. We work with highly efficient producing teams – they are very good at managing lots of moving pieces – so our specialty is providing a SaaS platform for them to do that more effectively. We’re very visual - and we don’t look like other software solutions. When people see Lumi, usually the first thing they say is “wow, this is designed by a producer who understands!”


You founded Lumi.Media with your brother Neil. How have your skills complemented one another’s, from concept to launch?


Neil and I have very different backgrounds and ways of thinking. We've always translated for each other. He has the maths head, and I’m a nut for words, but somewhere out beyond either of those disciplines, we connect. I’m very visual and big picture and Neil is very analytical. I think the trust between us has been a huge factor too… I know that Neil is more methodical than me so I trust his ability to break things down, whereas I often make decisions based on instinct.


We’ve both come to this at the later stages of our careers, when we’ve already been lucky to have enjoyed previous professional success, and perhaps that’s helped us to bring less ego to the idea of building a business.

Lumi is our baby. We are both really passionate about what we’re building and we’re thrilled at how far we’ve come. But when all is said and done we care about each other more – so that keeps us grounded (and calm through the arguments!)


How is Lumi.Media making an industry-wide difference when it comes to making productions more competitive?


Lumi.Media is a global business so we’re now working with customers in the UK and US as well as Australia. Content production is the same the world over – all storytelling in any form involves a who, what, where, why and when – so what we’re doing is helping teams with digital transformation, turbocharging their processes into the future so they can collaborate easily from multiple devices anywhere in the world. Gone are the days where a team huddles around a white board to plan and communicate.


The content explosion means that companies need to make more for less, so they need to be smart about it.

We work with customers who hire the best creatives and we help those creatives to plan and execute without getting bogged down in all the old admin of traditional processes.


How has having a gender-balanced team contributed to a better business and/or tech product?


Our senior leadership team is 60 percent female and 40 percent male and we have equal representation through the rest of the company.


Gender balance is not about ticking boxes for us; it’s a vital ingredient in all our decision making. In the past, I have been the only female in a male executive team and sometimes I felt the pressure to agree with the room because – well, how could they all hold one view and I hold another? Surely I had to be missing something. But then I started making jokes that maybe I had to speak much much louder in order to create a balance where I could represent the other half of the population! And I don’t mean that in a “I have a right to be heard as a woman” kind of way.


I mean that in order for us to make a good decision it was imperative that I expressed my perspective on ideas and strategy clearly and thoughtfully – as a woman, as a working mother, as a sister, as a daughter. Otherwise we weren’t seeing all sides and we may have made really poor decisions for our audience.

At Lumi.Media we celebrate diversity of age, background, race, gender and experience and we listen. Plus, we have a fabulous customer in London leading the way on the platform called Gritty Talent, and we’re very proud that Lumi is helping them in their mission to become a leader in the global creative diversity revolution.


Companies already using Lumi include Endemol Shine Australia (Survivor, Big Brother), ITV UK (Love Island, The Cabins), AFL house, CJZ (Question Everything, Bondi Rescue), Channel 9’s The Block, Fremantle (Australia’s Got Talent), Beyond International (Pooch Perfect US) and Racing.com. To learn more about how you can maximise production efficiencies with Lumi, visit www.lumi.media