Explainify is an animation and video studio specializing in the creation of short, to-the-point stories – explainer videos. They 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 (especially for startups). They increase sales and conversion rates dramatically! We had the pleasure to chat with founder Eric Hinson, who previously worked at Rockfish Interactive, one of Ad Age’s top ranked agencies. Eric shares how, at the age of 25, he left the ad world to do his own thing – completely self-funded, with no business experience.
What makes you different than the other explainer video companies?
The biggest thing is that we don’t make long explainer videos. We 100% believe there is no need to go over 90 seconds (and there’s tons of research to prove it). If we can’t tell your story in under 90 seconds, we’re probably not a good 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 and awesome clients. We’d rather make less and enjoy ourselves.
How do people misunderstand the video-making process?
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 explainer video producers – but it still takes some cash.
What’s your background?
I come from Rockfish Interactive, one of Ad Age’s top ranked agencies, which was recently acquired by WPP. I helped launch Rockfish’s video production branch, Rockfish Studio. We worked first-hand on videos for clients like Walmart, Sam’s Club, EA Sports, Nerf, White Cloud and so much more. I learned a lot and am very thankful for my time spent there, but ultimately agency life wasn’t my thing. I ventured off to do my own thing in January completely unfunded with no previous business experience (at age 25, which probably isn’t so impressive anymore).
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
My wife and I had so many names going through our heads, we were unable to sleep. Then, around 3:00am, I burst out with “Explainify!” We immediately knew that it would be a perfect fit, but were worried that the domain and social names would be taken. Too much surprise, they weren’t, and Explainify was born to help people “explain” and “clarify” their ideas through video.
Where is your company based?
We are actually located in Northwest Arkansas. Bentonville to be exact. We absolutely love it here! It has the small, home town appeal with the thriving startup scene.
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
Check my calendar, emails and then open Spotify to start playing some hardcore music. It helps get me “in the zone,” if you will.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
Just my wife and I. We’ve added one more since – and he’s a huge help! We also can tap into a large creative network if we need to.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
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.
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
I freak out for a bit, vent for a short time then calm down, go for a walk and pray. Then it’s onto the drum kit where I bang out some beats.
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumpin’ away to house music or is it more traditional?
We like to play, laugh and goof off. Without it, it’s just a job and we can’t have that.
We listen to everything from classical to hardcore music in the office. It depends on the day. Dubstep is never out of the question.
We also enjoy cupcakes and tea to keep us chill while animating from sunup to sundown.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
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 we’d love to have an established brand, a team of people to go to that we’re confident in, and then be able to start traveling the globe telling the best stories animated and live action.
Who or what inspires YOU?
Jesus Christ. Without him, none of this would be possible. I’m trying to do what I feel I was put here to do and reflecting the love of Jesus through my life whether it’s out in the community or here at work. It’s always a challenge, and I’m still learning, but it’s worth it.
How’d you fund this venture?
100% self-funded and proud of that! We have no debt and extremely low overhead. I know it’s not for everyone, but it’s been perfect for Explainify. It really takes away a great deal of stress.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Be smart, work hard and stay centered. You can’t work 24/7 and function. Have a family life, drink some tea (Savoy Tea Co. is our favorite) and don’t forget to have FUN! Also, get plugged into the entrepreneurship community. Here in Northwest Arkansas there is an amazing scene with a lot happening all the time. The area was even featured in Forbes magazine recently as a hub for startups. It’s super encouraging to meet and talk to cool, innovative local people that are hustling just as hard as we are.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend (and you couldn’t spend it on your current startup / projects)
I’d go snowboard in Europe. I’m itching for the chance to either go snowboarding or to Europe – why not do both?! Then I’d head down to Southern Africa and work with the local startup community there.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
Sure, I feel successful. Leads come in every day, people are talking about Explainify, we’re working with awesome clients who are singing our praises, and I’m not slammed or too overwhelmed like when I worked at an agency. I call that success!
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
Wimp.com – Good, healthy dose of video delivered every day.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
BrewGene is pretty cool. I can keep track of the beers I’ve had and get good suggestions based on what I’ve liked.
I have to also mention my love for DropBox. I’m blown away at how helpful it is for the Explainify workflow.
Dogs or cats?
iOS or Android?
I’ve been with Apple since the 2nd gen iPhone, but am seriously thinking of switching to a Galaxy S3. Yeah, but everything I do is on Apple products… so it’ll have to be something I really think through a bit more…
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet?
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
We make short videos that make customers excited to buy and that makes companies more money. It’s really cool to see people embracing the brand and spreading the love. We recently got a sweet Twitter and Quora endorsement by Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz fame. That was cool.
Where can our readers get ahold of you?
Any other projects you’re working on that we should check out?
We’re doing some cool stuff with a non-profit called Self Destruct. We’ve had the chance to help them start a pretty incredible movement in the Action Sports and Music Culture. More to come soon. We’re also doing a pretty edgy video for a cool local startup, Truckily.
Courtesy of startup founder | Explainify