We had an interesting chat with Ms. “Erika Kramer”, CEO and Founder at New York – USA based start-up “SleevesUpProductions”
Below is the interview we conducted with her:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
SUP is a playful creative agency. We tell real stories with digital content that makes brands cool. With 27 million pieces of content shared every day, brands need help producing engaging and beautiful content. At SUP creating content is our game. #WeWakeBrandsUp
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
Sleeves Up Productions was founded in June of 2013. Initially formed to work on documentary projects, SUP evolved into an agency that shares a variety of stories through different visual mediums.
After over a year we’re an established small business with a roster of clients spanning a number of industries.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
It’s a simple work-for-hire model where we create content for a number of smaller brands and individuals then grow with existing clients and by word of mouth.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
We’re lean, it’s just me as the CEO and chief story teller and Jenner Deal as our Creative Muscle, working on graphics and design. We have a small collections of design and editing freelancers that we commission on a per-project basis.
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?
SUP is special for a few key reasons. We create and share real stories in the form of colorful, often bold,digital content. In the visual world what we’re making is engaging content in the form of videos and image assets all intended to make brands relevant and interesting.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
Growth is dependent on projects and amount of content created. In the past year we’ve created hundreds of digital assets for a variety of clients. We’ve been featured on wide reaching blogs like style.com and won a visual video contest for Motrin.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
We compete with other content creating production companies. Video production houses, branding and design agencies, and creative hubs. Our advantage is in the personal touch we provide. As an agency run by two women with experience in both television production and event design, we bring a youthful and fresh take but also guarantee success from our experience.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle we face is outreach and business development. We’ve since created a strategy for earning new clients that will hopefully help grow the business.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Content creation is so much more than having an idea. Ideas are essential, but the execution is everything. We spend a majority of our time researching ways in which our content can and will be successful while simultaneously finding inspiration and accessing the tools needed to execute and create. Once assets are made we set up a thorough distribution plan to maximize consumption.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
The stories we tell are beautifully crafted and compelling. We’re technically making content for clients, but truthfully, we’re making content for everyone. We want every asset we make to not only be beautiful, but to also compel consumers to feel something as a result. Content remains king and we’re going to lead the pack in making great content.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?In the near future, we may expand to longer form content, in the way of TV and films.
As of now, we’re happy making short form, reality based content. As long as we tell stories that matter, for clients we believe in, we feel successful.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
After years working in TV production and then making the jump to digital video production, I realized the need for high quality content to share real stories. Using my experience and bringing on a brilliant designer, it just made sense to start creating on our own.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
We’ve learned many of the technical skills required to produce high quality visual content as well as understanding the data and research that goes into online content creation. Can’t tell all our secrets!
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
With disruption happening every day, people are consuming from many new angles and it changes constantly. Understanding that the landscape will change, the biggest challenge for us will be adjusting and making sure the content we’re making is ready for whichever platform is leading the pack.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
There’s no doubting that content benefits any brand. A few facts that back this up are:
1) Interesting content is one of the top 3 reasons why people follow brands on social media.
2) Content creation ranked as the single most effective SEO tactic by 53% last year.
Also, our work is all about creating something that makes a consumer feel. This is a powerful thing for brands trying to reach their customers.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
At this stage we’re mostly making a splash by word-of-mouth and recommendations. We’ve also earned some attention from our website, blogging and social media. Setting up a new outreach strategy has been a top priority for the new year.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our clients range from larger brands to up-and-coming personal brands. We mostly work in the lifestyle, travel, and food categories.
We are open to any client interested in sharing a real story through a visual medium.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
We earn a lot of traffic from our website and social media channels as well as from past clients who refer new work our way. With content creation the proof is in the work, if it’s good it’s good. And we’re proud of the content we create for our clients and ourselves.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
We’ve been featured on large and small blogs and referred lots of a new business from our success in meeting clients needs and creating engaging content. Mostly, clients like sharing what we make for them because it’s fun, cool, and tells a story they want their customers/viewers to know.
20. How are you going to scale?
We’ll grow by continuing to create great content and bringing in new, talented story tellers. We’re not your average startup. It’s not about maximizing users or click through rates or app downloads. Our goal is simple: we want to make great content that excites our clients and their customers.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
We’d like to bring on coders or developers to help with some of our projects. We often create assets that clients that they love and want to share in new and exciting ways and we can’t always execute on their requests when it comes to some of the new and exciting platforms.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We would love to internationalize, as demand grows. It’s in our long term business plan, but not until we reach a comfortable, steady growth here in the States.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We’ll grow to become a medium sized agency. Currently we have less than 10 employees and within the next 3 years SUP will grow to have at least 20 employees.
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?
We’re not looking to hire anyone new at this time. However, we’re always interested in meeting with talented designers, graphic editors, and filmmakers. We believe collaborations are essential in creating a well rounded product. We often bring on independent help for client-specific projects.
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’re not looking for outside investments at this time. We’re not a standard startup with a growth plan and exit strategy. We just want to make great content for the clients living in the digital age. As of now, we’re self-sustainable.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Hustle, Hustle, Hustle. It’s the only way to survive. You have to always be looking to grow while working on the projects you’re working on.
Also, optimism is everything. Staying positive ensures that you won’t go completely nuts. You have to believe in yourself, but you also have to think the glass is half full. Clients know when you’re a half-full or half-empty person.