Startup Videos Interview: Demo Duck
This is the 5th interview in a series called the Startup Videos Interview. In this series, we will be interviewing top motion designers and agencies in the community to give you the inside scoop on the people behind the explanation videos we showcase here. Today we're bringing you an interview of Andrew Follett from Demo Duck a creative studio located in Chicago.
About you and your agency
Let’s start with an introduction. What is your background and what do you do?
My name is Andrew Follett. I’m the Founder at Demo Duck, a small explainer video production company out of Chicago. I also just launched Video Brewery. Video Brewery is a hassle-free way for startups to get a custom online video. You can set the budget, deadline, and pick the creative you want to work with from hundreds of talented animators and video producers. The website handles all of the details, from gathering proposals, and processing payments, to contracts and project management.
How did it all started with your studio/agency?
I started Demo Duck in January 2011. When I was first getting things off the ground, I was only offering screencasts - basically, simple tutorial videos that explain how to use a website or app. I had a friend in Chicago radio who did the voiceovers (and still does), and I did the rest myself using Camtasia Studio and Screenflow. Videos were cheap (starting at $399), and I got a surprising amount of interest.
A few months later, I started connecting with some local animators. Animation seems to be all the rage right now, and it makes up 90% of my business. This year we launched a live video production offering and continue to look for new and interesting ways to use online video (hence Video Brewery).
What did you use to do before making videos / creating your agency?
Before starting Demo Duck, I was the founder at Concept Feedback, a marginally successful startup for getting feedback on your website. In essence, a crowdsourced way to get fresh ideas to increase conversion rates. We just couldn’t find a way to make money. In fact, I was making videos on the side just to keep the lights on, but realized about 18 months in that video was a more promising route.
What about now? How many people in your team? (In-house, remote, freelancers?)
We’re a small team of 2. Our network of voice talent, animators and video producers is currently around 25-30, which we’ve slowly built up over the last 16 months. They live all over the world.
Where are you working from? Your own office, coffee-shops, home, co-working space?
We have a nice little office in Oak Park, Illinois (about 10 miles west of downtown Chicago). We share it with a couple guys who have their own video production company, and collaborate with them on quite a few projects. When we’re not working, we’re playing NHL 96 on Sega or flying our remote control helicopters around the room.
About your production / creative process
What are you favorite sources of inspiration?
Usually we find inspiration from real-life experiences. For example, we’re working on a video for an app that helps you find a parking spot. While brainstorming and working on the script, it was fun to talk about our most painful parking experiences. A lot of the ideas for the script came out of that process. We also like watching a lot of videos and working with a wide variety of illustrators and producers, which gives us a lot of new ideas.
What are your favorite projects you’ve worked on so far?
Every project is unique, but we had a lot of fun creating the latest Demo Duck video on our homepage. We took some behind-the-scenes footage, did all of the sound effects with a mouth and a microphone, and really had a good time.
Video Explainer / product demo market
Most startups realize that explaining their product/services through video is now a must have in their communication/brand strategy. What would be your advices for startups looking to get such a video, what are the “must have” and pitfalls to avoid?
Try Video Brewery! Well, that and keep it short and sweet. Also, a professionally-made video is not for everyone. If you’re just getting started and you want a video, but don’t have the budget, try making something yourself. It might not win any awards, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be creative and persuasive.
According to you, what are the trends for 2012 and what can we expect for this year design-wise, budget-wise, message-wise?
It seems like we’re only at the tip of the iceberg right now in terms of online video. Everyone is scrambling to create the next great explainer video or viral video, but often overlooking a larger, comprehensive video strategy. I think you’ll see a lot more companies allocating more of their budgets to video, and starting to think more in terms of “video campaigns” than a one-hit wonder. I also think we’ll start to see more and more creative uses and combinations of animation, stop motion, and live video (i.e. mixing mediums).
What’s your favourite startups at the moment?
I’m a big fan of the companies that are combining online and offline technology. For instance Zipcar. I can reserve a car on my iPhone whenever I need it. Pretty cool.
What's the one web video that you didn't make but you wish you did?
Mint.com...only because we hear about it from every other person we talk to
For the latest news, you can follow my updates and musings on the Demo Duck blog. Also make sure to stop by Video Brewery! You can apply to be a part of the community if you’re a creative, or you can post a project if you need a video.