In this episode, I talk with David Feineman, co-founder of Flixation; an on-demand video editing platform. Users upload video footage, and Flixation then takes that footage and turns it into a completed video for the company, with the help of editors and a creative director on staff.
Flixation was really created as a side product out of their full standard production company. David’s mentor advised him and his co-founder to think of the product beat, meaning, the various different evolutions of the product and service over time, which lead to the start of Flixation. Now, with social media, video content is such an integral part of every part of any business. A company isn’t just doing 1-2 videos a year, they might be doing 100-200 videos per year, but their budgets aren’t increasing. So Flixation is able to streamline the process of creating more video.
Topics In This Episode
Creating a product to solve a need in the market
How they are different from their competitors
Importance of following the product beat
How social media has changed the industry
Having customer service be a pillar of a company
Future trends in video consumption and capture medium
Looking ahead to figure out how to incorporate automation in the product
Mike Kelly: Welcome to the Startup Competitors Podcast. Today we have David Feinman who's the co-founder of Flixation. David, welcome to the show.
David Feinman: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Mike Kelly: Awesome. Well, why don't we open with a quick pitch for Flixation and what you guys do.
David Feinman: Yeah, sure. Flixation is an on-demand video editing platform. We have companies all over, uploading us their video footage and we then take that footage and turn it into a completed video for them with the help of both editors and a creative director on staff.
Mike Kelly: Make that a little bit more tangible for me in terms of maybe my experience. If I go to the Flixation website and I upload a video, what happens next? Am I like truly just hands off until I get a video back or what does that look like?
David Feinman: Companies just essentially give us their brief of what footage they want, and their footage and some instructions, and we will then turn that into a video. It's basically if you need essentially an augmented team or a team of editors on the backend, we supply that for video editing and allow you to be able to edit a video quickly, affordably and within originally while still retaining a good quality and a good experience of doing that.
Mike Kelly: Awesome. What does the pricing model look like for that?
David Feinman: It's a per hour basis. We just charge you for what you get and if you use one hour, you spend, at our lowest price, it'll be $35.00.
Mike Kelly: Awesome. For somebody who's listening, quick status of the business. So paint a picture for where you guys are at, that could be any sort of vanity metric you wanna share, number of employees, how long you've been doing this, number of clients, anything that kinda lets somebody know what the status of the business is overall.
David Feinman: We've done about 1,500 videos at this point, so I would say our real metric is the number of videos we're able to crank out, and as a team we've so far done 1,500 total videos.
Mike Kelly: What's the current run rate of videos a month, or is that not a realistic question?
David Feinman: That is a realistic question, but one that I don't have an immediate available answer for you.
Mike Kelly: Sorry, no worries.
David Feinman: So it definitely is a reasonable question and one that I'll have to write down to go look into that 'cause that's a good metric to measure.
Mike Kelly: Well that way when I have you on the show two years from now and you just add a zero to that number then we'll know the show had a big impact.
David Feinman: Exactly. I'll know that a lot of people started using our services.
Mike Kelly: That's correct. So let's talk about competition. When you look at the marketplace and look at competitors for Flixation, who comes to mind?
David Feinman: I think for us there's a large competitive space. So let me back up to a macro level first. The way companies are hiring work and are doing work has changed a lot. So it's not necessarily they're hiring full time employees, they're not necessarily hiring part-time employees, they're just hiring for a job or a task they need on demand. So if a company needs an accounting service, they might hire an on-demand accountant. Which is aided by technology and a process in a system that's already built. So companies are buying in this modular framework and this kind of like fragmented freelancer economy which has kind of opened the door for services like Flixation to have a place in the market.
David Feinman: So if you look at our competitors, other companies ... I kind of look at it as wholistically, what are the other companies that are offering video editing services in a way that's on demand. I don't wanna compare us to either of these services 'cause we're a fundamentally different part of the individual market, but I would say Upwork and Fiverr and services like that are big behemoths in the industry that capture a lot of the share of market of video editing as a whole.
David Feinman: But we capture a part of the market in that our real goal is to focus on experience, and quality of experience, and control that whole process design for video editing specifically. So where Upwork or Fiverr might have a broad stroke of different services that they could offer, we at Flixation, we'll just focus on video editing so we really have that process nailed down for our customers so that they have this experience that really makes sense for them when they're ordering a video.
Mike Kelly: Can you dive into that ... Well I guess maybe two things. One, maybe dive into that experience a little bit more, like what makes that experience unique and special and then maybe after you've done that, maybe zoom out a little bit, and then how did you guys land on that experience. I'd love to know is it just like trial and error over 1,500 videos or is it no, we knew this coming into the business that this is kind of the experience we wanted, and we just perfected it through that process. I'd love to know how you got there as well.
David Feinman: So we look ... I can't take full credit for this system of designing a product, but we have a mentor that has advised us on something that he refers to as the product beat. And the product beat is various different evolutions of your product and service over time. We actually, at the same time as operating Flixation, we actually operate another part of the business called Viral Ideas which is a standard production company for corporations that really's just a solution for companies to come in.
David Feinman: We've done considerable amount of work for that company over the past few years and one of the things we noticed with that company is that companies want their edit done fast. They want it done efficiently, and they want it done correctly. They also wanna be able to increase the amount of volume of content they're doing without necessarily paying large agency rates 'cause with social media and the trends of video being an integral part of every process of the business, a company isn't just doing one or two videos a year at 50,000 or 100,000 dollars, they might be doing 100 to 200 videos a year but they're budgets really haven't gone up much. They gotta make their budgets go a little further.
David Feinman: So we noticed this in the market and we kind of reacted to it by looking at the experience that Viral ideas is being able to provide and offering something through Flixation where companies can get it better, faster, and cheaper all the same time. We really just kinda took a look at where our product's beat has gone, starting with that production company of Viral Ideas, and moving into our product, Flixation, of hey, we had this production company that still exists and still produces videos, but what's the next evolution of that for companies and it's that on-demand, fast, quality produced content that they need on an ongoing basis.
Mike Kelly: So that kind of story of how you got to where you are, take me then through the product experience. How did you think about designing the experience that a user goes through in that on-demand world. Did that just come from all your experience in the prior agency world, or is that something that you're like well no, let's just get started and we'll tune it over time?
David Feinman: So for starters, when I think about customer experience, I think it starts with one thing, which is, the service. So we look to service as, if you've ever read the Zappos books, Delivering Happiness, we like to think we've integrated that in a way with videos. Where we're able to deliver videos in a way that we're always putting the customer centric ideology first in the business. And that's been kind of the number one propulsion.
David Feinman: But beyond that, I think customer experience design comes from creating something that just fits in with what the customer would do in a normal process. So when companies work with Flixation, the process feels very natural. The process of editing video doesn't feel like an arduous task, it feels like something that's very fluid and goes back and forth where it could speed up the process by weeks or even months to edit a video, because we're able to do it in such a way that really just interacts with humans in a positive human interface way that allows a positive customer experience.
Mike Kelly: So then that experience, so kinda contrasting against a Fiverr experience 'cause I've done my fair share of Fiverr requests. So Fiverr is very much like you're just creating a connection to somebody, it very quickly starts to just become an email back and forth only through their platform, but each time you start a new request you kinda gotta redefine what it is you want. Did you go through that process? How are you different? Walk me through what Flixation does to try to make that a more service oriented or more customer oriented experience.
David Feinman: It's a great question. So I think experience starts with understanding who your customer is. So at Flixation, we really focus on that corporation and we focus on what we're doing specifically for that corporation. So we're, at the end of the day for Flixation, creating corporate video production or interfacing with corporate video production companies. We're interfacing with franchises. We're interfacing with [SaaS 00:09:55] companies and we understand what, over creating 1,500 hundred videos, exactly what types of videos those companies will need.
David Feinman: So when they're uploading us their raw footage, we're able to, on the back end using both humans and a combination of technology, take a look at the raw footage and give them some ideas or what they can do with that and where that footage can go. After that early conversation comes, they'll get a couple examples of hey, this is what your video could look like in the end, is this where you wanna go with it. It really takes a lot of the, what should I do with this, out of the question, and it allows companies to just kind of really just start working with us and really just kinda get that integrated experience of what are best practices in the industry, what should I be doing, because a lot of marketing becomes, in my opinion, becomes a what do I do, am I doing the right thing and if we can provide not only the service, but a layer beyond that of offering them a way to understand what they should create, that's even more powerful in the experience 'cause we're kind of anticipating their needs before it happens.
Mike Kelly: Right on. Yeah. When you look at the market over the next five years, what else do you think is gonna change in the way that people or companies go out to produce video, and then what are some of those trends that you think are gonna change, like the frequency rates of going from two videos a year to 200, potentially even maybe some of the underlying technologies, and then how are you positioning Flixation to support those changes?
David Feinman: Yeah. All good questions. So, beyond volume, the methodology in which videos are going to be created for companies I believe is gonna change as well. So, with the little rectangular box that we all have in our pockets, we're all seconds away from being able to be a creator. We view Flixation in part as a tool for the enablement of that individualize and democratized creativity that people within companies can do without the technical skills of having to set up a whole rig, camera, lighting, et cetera.
David Feinman: We have a number of clients that are already now starting to use their phone as the capture medium versus using a standard camera. We see that as one trend. We also see another trend being a need to distribute on multiple channels. It used to just be video was consumed on TV and it was the television commercial was the only way that corporations did it. But now companies are not only just using video for external marketing purposes, but throughout their whole process. They're using it through their sales team, they're using it through their internal training, they're using it through communication with their clients.
David Feinman: So Flixation aims to be that, in the future, aims to be that enablement for companies to have essentially a library of footage where they can kind of work with us to edit and piece together what they need for that specific moment. They're going to have this huge need for a volume of content in the future and different applications for the content. Having that static area for them to be able to go in and say hey, I need an edit for this application or that application, makes a lot of sense for companies in a 2020 plus environment.
Mike Kelly: Yeah. Do you ever white label Flixation or do it as an integration to a product? So the specific use case that comes to mind is something that you said in there, which is imagine I've got internal education platform. Like, we interviewed the founder for Lessonly late last year, and Lessonly is like a perfect example of where you're potentially producing tons of video. Some if it is probably fine being relatively low quality, especially if it's for something low level tactical that's probably gonna change every six to eight months. But then you think of the stuff that is a little more timeless. Having something where I could just upload video and like just check the box and it's gonna go out to a service like yours. Is that something that you guys do right now? Do you partner with product companies to integrate what you've built?
David Feinman: We do a little bit, more on ... We're very selective about it. We partner right now with, largely, the other video production companies. We'll run their back end editing. As far as integration with product, that's something that's on our roadmap, but to be able to do it at scale, we don't have the tech stack there yet to be able to enable that. So it's makes integrations like that a bit of a manual challenge.
Mike Kelly: Yeah, right, understood. All right, totally makes sense. From a technology trends perspective, which maybe gets to the tech stack discussion for you and your team, what are some of those trends that you're keeping an eye on and either maybe trying to understand what opportunities that creates for you, like that could be something like augmented reality, or stuff like that where you're trying to figure out how do we play in that space in the future, or could be much more simple like one of the ones you already kinda hit which is as people switch more to just using their phone, obviously cameras and video on phone have reached point where, especially for social media purposes and stuff like that, it's totally good enough. So any other trends like that, that you guys are keeping an eye on and or trying to figure out what are the implications of that are gonna be for what you're building?
David Feinman: Yeah. I more look so on the how side, not what is the medium. One of the big things I've been consciously thinking about is how does automation play into our business. Like you upload a deck of footage, a whole bank of footage to us, and can that be edited within two seconds with an automated system. I think that's something that could be feasible in the future as an option. Right now our promised editing time is five days, we can go to 24 hours, but you couldn't beat a computer that could do it in a couple seconds, theoretically. I think either software or hardware whatever might have to catch up, but I haven't seen a solution out there that's really doing that at scale in our application at least. I mean, there's a lot of automation tools that exist already there, that are doing it.
David Feinman: I would say the other one is, that we're keeping an eye on, you have your whole virtual reality, augmented reality world, but I think until that world becomes seamless, I think it's gonna take a bit of time for adoption. I think that world right now is a lot of, you're seeing a lot of early adapters move in, like on the product. If you map that on a product chart right now, we're just in early adapter phase of techies. I'll be at South by Southwest this weekend I'm sure they're gonna have whole virtual reality, augmented reality section, but it's clunkly. You have to put on a headset. You're entering this whole world. So what is the next evolution of that, where it goes mass market. Is it something that integrates with our phone, is it like ... 'Cause I think the device has to almost integrate with our day to day lives in order for it to be useful and meaningful.
Mike Kelly: Yeah. We're not at that point yet, like some of their early marketing videos where they show you just wearing normal glasses and having a fully immersive augmented reality experience. We're nowhere near that.
David Feinman: And what's fascinating about it is, there's this whole study. If you go back when the fax machine was first introduced, I forget the of this but one fax machine is effectively useless, right?
Mike Kelly: Right.
David Feinman: But a million fax machines is very useful, or 10 million fax machines might be useful, and if every single person had a fax machine in the world, then it's incredibly useful. Same thing with cell phones. If one person has a cell phone, and can text, that's pretty useless. If everyone in the world can text and has a cell phone, that solves that issue. I think sometime similar will happen with communication, communication style, in the AR/VR world. I just don't understand how it's gonna happen yet. Is it gonna be something that beams out of your phone and is right in front of you? Is it some sort of glasses like you described, like you see in future movies? I don't know yet but until that device and until that integration happens in a meaningful way, it's almost something that doesn't hit mass market.
Mike Kelly: Jumping around a little bit here. When you are targeting customer acquisition for Flixation, how do you do that? Is it a marketing driven product? Are people finding you in the wild and landing there or do you have a target list of corporate clients that you're looking to get into and you've got somebody smiling and dialing? I'd love to hear your thoughts on customer acquisition.
David Feinman: All of the above. So we do paid advertisement on Google. We do Facebook ads. We do reach out, like individualized reach out to companies that we wanna work with. And then we do actually a lot of cold email outreach. So those are our main ways of driving business. We hit a large chunk of them, it's working out pretty good so far. I would say people aren't finding us yet, we're still a new product, so we're still marketing actively the product [inaudible 00:19:24] we develop that K factor yet but it's growing steadily with our marketing efforts.
Mike Kelly: Be interested, when you're targeting someone, maybe with the cold email, is that a marketing department? Like who are you ... Well I guess two things there. One is like who within an organization and then for what you're trying to do, like what segment of the market do you think is the right segment for you to go after? My instinct is like maybe a mid-size company versus on the smaller end, but I have no idea if that's true. When you think of the competitors in the space, and where you guys fit, how do you think of that and then how have you implemented that in across your various campaigns?
David Feinman: Good question. So we're focusing on that mid-sized customer. We're not focusing on a smaller business. We're focusing on businesses that have little money to spend on video editing. We're a fair price for the value we deliver, but we're not Fiverr where you can go on and get a video for next to nothing. I would say second, as far as who within our organization does it, we actually have automated a lot of what we do in terms of outreach.
David Feinman: We have one person that works on marketing, but everything they do is super scaled, so it's to the point where they have set up targeted campaigns that they can run and scale up, through email, Facebook, Google, all it takes is just cracking a few dials, adding some email addresses, and they're able to turn up and ultimately pass that back to ... Me and my business partners still, to this day, do all the sales for new customers 'cause we wanna, while the business is still new even though we've done 1,500 videos, we still want to give people that personal touch at first and let them know that hey, we're here for you in the beginning and then we just pass it along to the team, that's it, as it goes on.
Mike Kelly: Nice. When somebody uses Flixation, how long do they remain a customer? Do you have a feel yet for what that looks like? Do you get them and keep them forever, or are they typically doing a handful of videos then move on to something else? What does that look like?
David Feinman: Depends on the customer profile. I will say that once customers that have a large need for videos start doing videos with us, usually they're pretty much going to do their editing through us. Once they kinda get started, they get hooked on our services but we'll have customers that'll come in, that we've noticed, that'll order every other month, or they'll pattern where they'll order quarterly. So it depends on the client profile and their actual needs.
Mike Kelly: Makes sense. All right. So you personally, this year, do you have any goals for things that you're looking to learn or get better at? That can be in the business, out of the business, totally [inaudible 00:22:26] question, but I'm always interested as I talk to people to learn a little bit more about what has them excited right now.
David Feinman: For sure. I've been doing two things for myself this year. Number one is, I've always been fascinated with stock market, bonds, the market in general, and historically what different things trigger different things, so I've been on a reading quest to learn more about investing and the markets and how all that works. And then my second quest is that I'm training for an Ironman. I have signed up for a half Ironman in June and then a full one in September. I just signed up for both of them at the same time. I just set a goal to do it by the end of the year I'll complete that. So I train probably an hour to two hours a day usually on that.
Mike Kelly: Congratulations, and you're crazy.
David Feinman: Just a little bit.
Mike Kelly: What's the best book you've read on investing so far? The one that you thought was the most helpful.
David Feinman: Tony Robbin's book, Money Master the Game is great. It's heavy, but the book, it's the one that Warren Buffet always recommends.
Mike Kelly: Yeah. Awesome.
David Feinman: I forget the name, the one by Benjamin Graham, should look up Benjamin Graham book, it'll pop right up, I'm blanking on the title right now.
Mike Kelly: Ah, Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor?
David Feinman: That would be the one. Yes. That one's really good.
Mike Kelly: I've never even heard of that one.
David Feinman: Yes, it's actually the book that got Warren Buffet into investing. I'm about to read Ray Dalio, the Debt Crisis which is supposed to be really good too. He's a famous hedge fund investor.
Mike Kelly: Oh yeah. I'm familiar with Ray, I've not read that book. He just wrote Principles, right? I read that one last year, yeah. Awesome. All right. Very good. If people want to get in touch with you or learn more about Flixation, where can they do that?
David Feinman: Sure. Just go to flixation.co. F-L-I-X-A-T-I-O-N dot co, and you can just reach out to me through there. Or I am pretty active on all social media so if you reach out to me, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, I'm usually pretty good at getting back to folks there if anyone has any follow up questions or anything I can be of help or assistance on.
Mike Kelly: I really appreciate it. David, thank you so much.
David Feinman: Thank you very much. I appreciate you having me.