Hi Mick, please tell us about the brains behind Genero.
Andrew Lane (the co-Founder of Genero) and I studied Marketing together at Monash University in Melbourne and then went off and worked in various marketing roles, ending up running digital marketing at HP and within Vodafone. So, we come from the perspective of brand marketers looking for ways to improve the way they communicate and build ongoing relationships with their consumers.
The entire concept is very new and creates a strong community feeling too. What was the inspiration behind it?
As people started spending more and more time online and in social media, there was a need for a new approach to marketing. Producing one or two TV commercials a year and relying on ads across traditional media to reach people just wasn’t going to cut it. There was a need to be ‘always on’ and to move towards creating content that people wanted to read, watch and ideally share.
At HP, when I was looking at the best strategy to do that effectively, my view was that we were going to need a lot more video content because it was so much more effective than written and static content. But when we tried to adapt our creative and production model to be able to produce the volume of video, I realised our agencies just weren’t structured to be able to deliver on that.
At the same time though the supply side of video was growing, with more and more people able to create broadcast quality content, with smaller crews, cheaper camera equipment, drones, editing software, effects programs etc.
So, the idea for Genero was to connect those clients looking for more video content, with a global filmmaking community looking for more opportunities to grow their careers. And we took inspiration from businesses in other verticals who had used a marketplace and software solution to dramatically improve the efficiency in that industry – like you see with the likes of Uber, Airbnb and eBay.
How did the business go from concept to launch?
The first step for me was to find a partner because it was such a big idea and I knew it was going to be extremely challenging to do alone. Once I’d convinced Andrew to come and do it with me, we then found another partner who owned a web development company and could look after the technology side of the business and build the initial platform.
Apart from the usual company set up activities, from there it was about scoping the opportunity and planning the approach to launching and growing the business. We didn’t have any capital, so we had to be really smart about how we could maximise our exposure on both the client and filmmaking sides, without requiring a sales force or marketing budget.
Although the idea for Genero was always focused on the advertising industry, we launched in the music industry, because we felt the model would work really well in that market, but also because we felt that would attract the type of filmmaker we were looking for. Very creative directors who would love to work with global music artists, with complete creative freedom to make entertaining video content around their music.
And we focused on creating video content for the music industry for the first few years until we could target the advertising industry with a global community of filmmakers, producing amazing video content that and a technology platform to manage the end to end creative and video production process.
What was the response like from your target audience?
The response has been incredible. The music industry wholeheartedly embraced a new approach to producing music videos and we’ve worked with all the major record labels and some of the biggest music artists in the world – George Harrison, Robert Plant, James Brown, David Bowie, Damon Albarn, Moby, Ellie Goulding and so many more.
With the advertising industry, we’ve also had an amazing response. The reality is that the industry is in transition as brands look for new ways to create video content and their agencies look to adapt to better serve that key requirement of their clients. We’ve already worked with brands and agencies like Diageo, Unilever, HP, Sony, Facebook, British Airways, Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy, Airbnb, Accor Group, BT, Mediacom, Mullen Lowe, British Gas, Holiday Inn, Havas, Omnicom and many more.
What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not running Genero?
It’s all-consuming running your own business, especially across multiple time zones, but I try to make sure I set aside time to spend with my family and keep enjoying live music and a bit of travel.
How did you fund it all in the beginning?
We used our own savings and family support initially, but we were also lucky enough to get some government grants from programs set up to support innovative startup businesses. We also raised a small amount of money via an initial family and friends around.
You have offices in four different countries across the globe. What would be your advice to small business owners on how to hire the right people?
Hiring the right people is one of the toughest jobs, as is finding the right investors. In both cases, you need to really invest the time in making sure there is a cultural fit with both yourselves as founders and the type of company you’re trying to build. When things are going well most people get along, but in more challenging times, you need to be working with people who you connect with and can work closely with.
How do you both measure success?
In the early days, it was about getting positive feedback from the market on the initial idea and concept and then take-up from real paying clients. Now we see a tremendous opportunity to build a very valuable long-term business for all our shareholders who have had the faith in us to invest their money into the company and success will be when we’re able to give them the returns on their investment that they’re happy with.
To be able to do that, we also know that we’ll need to have very happy long-term clients and partners, a filmmaking community who see Genero as a great way to grow their careers and employees who love working for us.
What has been the most exciting and challenging experience so far?
There are too many to pin point – it’s been challenging and required so much sacrifice and hard work to get to this point, but there is nothing more satisfying than building your own business.
What are your top tips on staying motivated?
Don’t get too excited by the ups and too deflated by the more challenging periods. You will undoubtedly have both and you need to be able to handle them while continuing to keep focused on the longer-term vision while dealing with the shorter-term rollercoaster.
How would you define being an entrepreneur?
It’s funny, I’ve never really thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but I guess once you’ve started something yourself and built it from the ground up and seen some success you technically are. For me, I associate it with someone who takes risks to build something of their own with their own livelihood on the line.
What plans do you have for Genero over the next 12 months?
Earlier this year we raised some significant funding and we have very exciting growth plans. We’ll continue to grow our team across various offices globally, invest further in our technology platform, offer new services for clients and continue to introduce new ways to help filmmakers grow their careers doing what they love.