Interview by SUDIPTO GHOSH.
Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What made you start StudioNow?
I have been an entrepreneur for the past 25 years. Along the way, I have dabbled with having a normal job here or there, but always found that my passion was to create ideas and companies from scratch. My key ingredients have always been to identify a large-scale trend (internet retail, WiFi communications, digital video, etc.) and then create a new business model for that industry that utilized technology to disrupt the status quo. I started one of the first internet bookstores in 1994, which later became Buy.com, which was then sold to Rakuten. I started StudioNow in 2007 because I was taking a ton of birthday and vacation pictures of my five- and two-year-olds at the time and never got around to doing anything cool with that content. While thousands of these pictures and videos were clogging up my hard drive other and more experienced individuals with film school backgrounds and editing software were uploading funny and entertaining videos to YouTube and generating millions of views. My original idea was to create a marketplace where less experienced individuals (people like me) could be matched with video experts to turn their pictures and videos into something that was worth watching. StudioNow 1.0 was born and on the first day, we had about 80 video professionals sign up to be part of the StudioNow Creative Network. Fast forward to today, and we now have over 10,000 creative vendors from mom and pop creative shops to some of the largest, high-end production companies in the world. We stopped making video content for individuals in 2008 and our software platform now manages the video creation process (vendor sourcing, bidding, project management, contracting, payment, etc.) for some of the largest companies in the world, including Coca-Cola, P&G, HP, Bridgestone, etc.
What are the core tenets of your business development model? How does StudioNow add value to digital transformation journeys for businesses?
StudioNow is not a production company or agency. StudioNow is a market network that radically improves the entire creative ecosystem for brands, agencies and production companies. Our production platform makes the production process significantly more efficient and scalable by managing the traditional opaque and time-consuming tasks of vendor sourcing, bidding, project management, contracting and payment. The StudioNow marketplace also provides tremendous value to brands agencies and production companies by matching supply (production companies) and demand (brands and agencies) in the creative ecosystem. This marketplace delivers scale and reduces costs.
With so much noise in the market, where do you see the video technology industry in 2020?
There will be major consolidation and better integration between creative development, execution and distribution in the next few years. Brands want to create content in a better, faster, cheaper mode and are experimenting with various production models and technologies. Agencies, media companies, the big platforms, Google & Facebook, consulting companies (Accenture, Deloitte, etc.) and enterprise software companies (Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, etc.) are all moving in the direction to be able to offer a one-stop shop solution for the brands content development, distribution and advertising needs.
What is the true definition of a ‘high-quality video’ in 2018? How do you deliver this at StudioNow?
High-quality video is the output of the StudioNow Platform and StudioNow Creative Network. The StudioNow Production platform manages the collaboration between the production companies and brands so that the two sides are in sync from start to finish. Videos or edits are published and shared through our platform and clients work with the creatives or editors until there is 100% satisfaction with the end result.
On what factors should businesses evaluate video production platforms?
The StudioNow platform was built to be as open and flexible as possible. Therefore, brands can experiment with different production models to determine which execution strategy works best for their needs. For example, brands can test in-house agency resources, have direct relationships with third-party production companies and also work with their traditional creative agency. The ideal production platform has to deliver scale, transparency and be flexible to accommodate a multitude of different production resources, geographies and support a broad range of content formats…corporate communications, social, short form, long form, TVCs, branded, etc.
What are the major issues regarding the measurement of video marketing analytics and sales performance?
The performance of creative and tracking production ROI is a big issue and need in the advertising industry. It is really one of the last missing pieces to a fully automated and integrated creative and ad tech stack. At this time, the data on the production costs and the performance of the content are not integrated. Therefore, brands and agencies do not have much data to help determine how much to spend on creative and production because they never really know how the content is going to perform.
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in video tech? What role would it play in the social media advertising and programmatic ecosystems?
I think AI combined with the integration of the creative stack and ad tech stack will have a huge impact on the advertising/video tech market. Once the two sides are integrated, AI can be implemented to determine the ideal creative and appropriate costs for every piece of content that needs to be created.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
There are a few companies that we think have great tech that is helping brands create content or distribute content at scale and more efficiently. For instance, companies like Socialive are doing a great job in helping large brands distribute live, social video to employees and consumers.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
The biggest challenge regarding AI is to make sure our team does not dismiss it or doubt its capabilities. While I think we are years away from having AI generate effective creative, we have the opportunity to be the data harvesters that can feed AI applications to start testing the capabilities.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
I always like to remind our team of how far we have come in such a short time. Every now and then I will take everyone on a trip down memory lane. I will show them that a few years ago we were making videos for two-year-old birthday parties for $19.99 and sending out DVDs to the parents. Now we are managing huge production budgets for some of the world’s largest brands and agency holding companies. With this type of perspective, people start to get excited about the future, to dream and really start pushing the envelope.
One word that best describes how you work
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
- Yahoo Finance (please don’t shut down)
- iOS, Find iPhone (I have two teenagers)
- MS Excel (one of the best pieces of software ever created)
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Virtual meetings. Physical travel is incredibly time consuming and costly.
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I tend to juggle reading 3-4 books at the same time: business related, just finished Frenemies by Ken Auleta: historical, currently reading Hamilton by Ron Chernow: fiction/fun, just finished Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews: health/science, just finished A Crack in Creation by Jennifer Doudna. I read at night before going to bed. Great way to fall asleep.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I am interested in a broad spectrum of industries and opportunities. I don’t get bogged down in details and can cover a lot of ground at a pretty quick pace. I think this type of personality tends to allow me to be more open to change and to see the change at a quicker pace.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
this interview was originally published here.