“Explainify” is an animated explainer video production house.
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Hinson’ regarding his start-up company ”Explainify”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Explainify” is all about?
Explainify (explainify.com) is an animation and video studio specializing in the creation of short, to-the-point stories – Explainer Videos. We work with anyone that has a website, idea or business on awesome videos that are less than 90 seconds – the average attention span of the viewer.
Explainer videos are the hot new thing for businesses. They increase sales and conversion rates dramatically! It’s the easiest way to give your perfect “elevator pitch” every single time to millions.
2. When has “Explainify” been founded? And what stage is “Explainify” currently at?
We launched in January of 2012, but didn’t actively look for explainer video work. It was more of a means to pay the bills by doing some agency work that a friend had. It gave me some much needed time to get everything ready for things to be successful once I hit it hard. As far as stages go, we are building a network of great clients and trying to knock out killer videos for them.
3. What is “Explainify”‘s business model and how does it work?
Explainify offers multiple video packages. Our projects are customized to tell each client’s story most effectively, so pricing is often quoted to match the project priorities and creative direction. We start by discussing our client’s needs. Then, together we decide what would work best for them. We have a specific process that helps us and clients know what to expect.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
The team started with just my wife and I. I met her at an awesome bookstore her family owned. We’ve added one more since – and he’s a huge help! I worked with him at Rockfish, the agency I was at before launching Explainify. He’s a super fun guy, we get along great and make things happen together. My wife’s main focus is scripting, concepting and design. Stuart does animation and sound design. We all really do a little bit of everything and we love it that way. We all have a hand in every part of the project. We feed off each others strengths and creative abilities to come up with the best solution for our clients. It’s kind of like a being in a band. You may write an awesome sounding riff by yourself. When you bring that riff to rehearsal the other bandmates take it and expand on it making it even better than it was before.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
The biggest thing is that we don’t make long explainer videos. We 100% believe there is no need to go over 90 seconds with our videos (and there’s tons of research to prove it). If we can’t tell your story in under 90 seconds, we’re probably not the best fit for each other.
We’re fortunate enough to be able to say no to people that we don’t think would be a good fit for us to work with. It’s not all about money – we want cool projects, awesome clients and most importantly – to have fun. We’d rather make less, enjoy ourselves and have a more successful result for our client.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Explainify” achieved so far?
Well, when Explainify was in its extreme infancy, I attended just about every networking event I could possibly get to. Trying to implant yourself into social circles that are already established is intimidating at first, and it can be uncomfortable trying to be your own “hype-man”…but the benefits of stepping out are well worth the awkwardness.
We’ve built up a great word-of-mouth network, done some cool projects that are getting talked about and even gained notoriety from Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz.
All of this has really grown the business.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “Explainify”‘s competitive advantage over them?
There are literally hundreds of explainer video companies from all around the world. We pride ourselves on our quality. I think it’s pretty cool that when you’re talking to one of us you’re talking to one of three people that have a huge hand in the project from beginning to end. You will definitely get that personalized feel! We pride ourselves on quality experience, design, animation, voiceover, etc. Since one of our team members is a professional musician, we can even do custom sound design that will blow your mind.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Being 100% self-funded is difficult but rewarding. We have no debt and extremely low overhead, but if client’s delay payment we could have a tough time keeping things running smoothly. I know it’s not for everyone, but it’s been ideal for us all at Explainify and my family.
Trying to figure out how to fit so many projects into a schedule that’s already full is one we face. We love our clients and our work… and really, we just want to work with as many cool businesses as we can. So we do.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
So many people think it should cost a few hundred bucks and take a couple days to produce a great video. This is nothing new. We experience it with everyone from startups to Fortune 500 companies. With the way animation and video goes, it takes a lot of hours to hand-craft a great story from concept to delivery. And we (…along with our clients) think we’re great at it.
Unfortunately, to get a video of quality that’s actually going to help your brand – it costs. We definitely do save you from the high costs of agencies and other video producers – but it still takes some cash to get the job done.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
Success is the byproduct when you love what you do and are passionate about what you have to offer. I think that others can tell how much we love our jobs when we talk to them about Explainify. We love building great relationships with business and companies of all sizes. We have a great product. We give each client plenty of personalized attention. We’re dedicated to quality. We love business and startups. We understand what goes into it and we want to help you tell your story in the most remarkable way!
11. If “Explainify” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
I have a strong live video production background. It’s a whole different animal, but we could start picking up higher end jobs much like Sandwich Video is doing. Startups that are well-funded (or established businesses) need their stories told in animation and video for the full effect. Some stories don’t make sense to be told in animation. Think Apple. Would you ever see a character animation in their ads? Nope. It’s just not going to happen.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Explainify” based on?
It’s a great niche that I saw was underserved. There’s a ton of old broadcast folk that can’t seem to wrap their head around web video and I had been in the space for years. With the launch of so many startups and businesses that can’t seem to tell their story, explainer video was a no-brainer. I didn’t realize how much “competition” there already was when I gave my 2 week notice and as I really got deep into this world, it started coming to light. The good news is there’s still so much demand. I don’t feel like any of us really compete for work. I’ve talked with several CEOs of the big explainer video shops and they all agree. There’s plenty of work to go around.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
A ton. My business knowledge in general has been greatly impacted. I get to learn about all these different career paths people have taken, crazy ideas they have and what it took to get them there. It’s amazing to talk to someone about raising capital and in the next hour another person that’s built a new platform for shopping, followed by someone who has reinvented the world of trivia and so on…
Every day feels like watching a TED talk. I get so pumped about all the cool stuff people are doing in this world. All of them – seizing the day.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
I’m not sure I’d call it a problem, but a difficulty we will likely face is scaling. There’s a high demand for explainer video and it’s getting bigger. Soon, we’re going to have to scale. Thankfully, right now, I’m not interested in being a mega-machine-business, but letting go of the reigns I hear is a hard thing to do. I want to make sure everything is perfect and be involved with everything. There simply isn’t enough time to do it all. We are going to have to have a bigger team and have people responsible for specific things instead of our small current team just doing it all on our own. Along with that comes managing 20+ projects, timelines, etc. We’ll see when we get there.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
The benefit is so much more than having a video that you can use to explain what you do to millions of people. You get the perfect pitch every single time. Infinity times. It doesn’t change. Nobody can tell your story incorrectly because we’ve perfected it into a 60-90 second video that tells it in a remarkable, fun way.
Your story is now written in a short way that you can use a million times over. Pitches, presentations, on your website. What we write is often used all over the place. You think you’re just getting a video and you quickly realize, “Wow. This is our story. People can understand and remember this.” and then you find yourself using it as your website headline, speaking it when you meet an acquaintance, or writing it over and over in your notebook (think middle school girl).
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Mostly from word-of-mouth. We’ve had great clients that have been more than willing to share Explainify. They love us… and we love them. Sometimes we have people that are really interested in using us, but simply can’t afford it at the time. Even they share us. They think it’s that cool. That makes us very happy and proud of what we’re doing.
Other than word of mouth, articles like this one or the one on KillerStartups.com have been good generators. If you’re interested in us guest blogging, we’re open to do that too. Anyone?
We also have a newsletter that we send out about every month. Recipients often share this with someone they think would be a good fit for us. Feel free to sign up at http://explainify.com
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
We have some awesome clients right now ranging from agencies like CollectiveBias to local startups like Truckily and Trivi.al. We’re looking to work with any awesome businesses. If you have a cool new product or service or you’re an established business doing something remarkable, we are in! Be it a startup or fortune 500. We’ve worked with them all and can match any brand/style/etc.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
We send out a good amount of emails and make calls all of the time. But, most of our customers come from word-of-mouth or Google. We have had some really cool shout outs from some people that have a huge online presence, which helps a lot. We have, what I think is a really cool website that is easy to understand, portrays our professionalism and attention to detail as well. Anyone can check out our portfolio of work and read testimonials from our happy clients.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
We’ve had nothing but great feedback. Client’s have been super happy with the entire experience. They love our work ethic, our interactions, our methods, our structure. The entire experience is a fun one. Some of the greatest feedback we have received comes in the form of positive expletives. Client’s love that they don’t just get a video. They get a team that knows what they’re doing with years of agency/marketing experience helping them really figure out who they are and how to best tell people about them. They also appreciate the knowledge we have with where the best place is to host their video (Wistia.com in most cases), how to display it on their site, how to get it out to the world, who to use for SEO and so much more.
20. How are you going to scale?
My goal in building this company is to offer us the lifestyle we want by continually telling the best story. In fact, I truly believe that the best story always wins. So ideally in a few years we’d love to have an established brand, a team of people to go to that we’re confident in. The team will most likely be setup as virtual offices around the world. This will allow us to really broaden the scope of work we can produce and increase output dramatically. We are taking it slow though. We’re into the organic growth model and really focused on delivering the best product at the end of the day. Quality, not quantity.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
We get asked a lot to do screencasts. These aren’t our thing. We’re not best suited to do them and in most cases, an explainer video is going to be way more effective than a screencast ever will be. These are typically done by bootstrapped startups from the very beginning. It’s a quick, cheap way to show people what you’re working on. There are plenty of people who can do them, but they just aren’t sexy enough for us to want to work on them.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
When dealing with the digital world, yes, absolutely! It comes with the territory of being an online business. We however, won’t have a physical presence internationally anytime soon, but we are more than willing to work with businesses from anywhere in the world.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
Like I said before, we’re not focused on that. Crazy, right? We are focused on creating great quality video and an awesome customer experience… not so much growth. I know that nothing growing is dead, so we will grow. That’s for sure. Just not “how big do you think you can get” kind of growth.
We will grow by focusing on what we do best, making awesome videos. So far, it’s worked. People see them, share them and we get more work.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
Not really, just the occasional freelance designer or animator. Whatever is needed to get the job done.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We’d love to find some way to partner with venture capitalists or incubators. If we could work something out where we are your go-to explainer video company for all of the businesses you are invested in, that would be ideal. We are totally down to do that.
Contact me at eric(at)explainify.com
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Be smart, work hard and stay centered. You can’t work 24/7 and function. Have a family life, drink some tea and don’t forget to have FUN! Also, get plugged into the entrepreneurship community. It’s super encouraging to meet and talk to cool, innovative people that are hustling just as hard as you.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add? Thank you for the opportunity to share with your audience. It’s been a pleasure.
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