Having a marketing video is one tool that can be a game changer for any startup company but if you have read 10 Reasons Your Marketing Video Isn’t Working, you might think you’ll have your work cut out for you in making one.
Second Light Productions, a video production service provider, can be all that you need. They are a small company but they have great talent and have already worked with big companies such as Yahoo, Nat Geo, BBC, and MTV to name a few.
Spencer Lucas, Director of Technology Services and Business Development of Second Light Productions, leads this passionate team. He visited KillerStartups recently to shed some light on how they coped with painful initial investments and kept pushing through frustrations on their way to success. Check out this “Smooth Move” video and get a feel of what they can do to get you that much-needed market attention.
What’s your company about? What do you do? Who are your customers?
In short we provide video production services shooting corporate spots, commercials, music videos, film, real estate video, aerial photography and websites to host all of it. Our customers range from an individual with an idea for a film to ad agencies, politicians and corporations.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website? Why is it better than the competition?
We are a small company with great talent. We shoot on one of the industry’s best cameras: Red One and Red Epic. We love what we do and I think it shows in our work.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
We named our company Second Light to speak to our desire to produce high concept film quality for our clients. Second Light, or more specifically, a Two-Light Process is a term describing the final pass over a film where higher quality fine tuning and exposure is apparent in the final film product.
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world wide web?
My first computer was an Apple IIe. I was 14 or 15 when I dialled into a BBS over a 14.4k modem.
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
It varies. I usually check emails around 8am and stop looking around 11pm. A typical day is close to 7 hours with no filming. Filming days are usually 12 hours.
When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?
I took 2 days off for a long weekend and camped with my kids at Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee.
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
email. Depending on what is revealed there, the whole day can change.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? On your third beer?
Ideas seem to come at all hours of the day. Unfortunately, many come during driving. I usually have my wife send me an email to remind me.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
There are 3 of us that are principals. We 1099 a few people.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
There is an abundance of media in our city, but it severely lacked quality — both on video and the web. A city needs to grow, but if it’s customer facing brand looks like shit, well, then there’s a problem. We want our community to grow along with us.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
Just this week we watched $15,000 go out the door to buy a work van and some new gear. After paying taxes and other bills, paychecks can’t be written. It’s that initial investment that can sometimes be painful.
How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?
We just keep pushing on and creating new avenues for revenue. The biggest frustration is when you have a concept, and even seen it be successful in other markets, only to have it fall on deaf ears when you pitch it locally. One concept we had would greatly impact sales for Real Estate agents — only one person tried it.
What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?
Our office is part of a business incubator. We are the only film production company, so our business model differs from a lot of the other companies here. Music is usually playing — Boards of Canada right now.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
I would like to see the 3 principals functioning at the creative level and hiring staff to do hands-on tasks and IT tasks instead of what I am about to do: prep gear and do web updates as I look at my hands with grease under my fingernails from working on the new work van yesterday…
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
Other people in our industry are great inspiration. I subscribe to several subreddits on Reddit related to our industry. It’s nice to bounce ideas, share ideas and get ideas from decent people that are supportive. A good role model would be my grandfather. I also have a great amount of respect for Gabe Newell, founder of Valve. He’s just an all around intelligent and good person that stays out of the spot light and has happy employees.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowdfunded? Where’d you get the money, man?
Self funded. We just acquired a line of credit to grow the business. One of the principals and me are lucky that we can float a little while the company takes off.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
That’s tough. If you truly are a lean startup, then do that: stay lean. Prioritize expenses. Also fully communicate where your money is going if you can’t distribute money to your staff.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
Always promote your brand. Business cards, t-shirts. Whenever I go out, i am wearing a polo with the company name embroidered or one of our crew t-shirts with the brand on it. People always read your shirt. One of them will eventually be a client.
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
I would take the family to Europe and spend a couple of seasons going to different countries.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
It feels pretty good right now. I’ll feel successful once I recognize a steady personal income.
Top 5 websites you couldn’t live without and why?
- Reddit — If you don’t know why, I’m sorry.
- Waveapps — free accounting software–it’s pretty damn good.
- Google — it’s the rabbit hole of most ideas.
- Filmtools — where we order a lot of gear
- Adobe — sigh, they forced us to the cloud, so we have to ping their site to use PremierePro, etc.
Top 5 mobile apps you’re in love with and why?
- ESPNWatch — world cup games live on my phone
- 2048 — my Timekiller
- Email app
- A yet unnamed app I am writing for our phones to control the red camera
- Notes — holds my ideas
What is your music streaming player of choice, and what are you listening to right now?
Usually something over my phone. Boards of Canada
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? (And why that country?)
Japan. Their culture and technological advances.
Someone (other than you) we should follow on Twitter and why?
Please share some specific numbers (funding, revenue, visitors) that highlight your growth.
March revenue when we formed LLC was 0. We are just over $20k today
Where Can Our Readers Find You Online?