Henry Finn

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Henry Finn is an American entrepreneur. Henry started Luminous in 2013 and is based in San Francisco.[1]

Henry Finn, founder of LuminousHenry Finn, founder of Luminous




@ohenryfinn (32 followers)


@ohenryfinn (362 followers)


Early Career

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Henry started Luminous in 2013. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: [1]

Q: How did you get started on Luminous?

I’m a filmmaker and that’s where my passion is. I’m an artist from my balls to my heart and I only became a producer and use my head because I also hate working 9-5s and I wasn’t interested in moving to LA. So I realized pretty quickly if I wanted to be free doing something I loved I would have to learn the business side.. which was really hard for me in the beginning.

I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of hard lessons because as an artist you don’t care about a lot of things that corporations care about (namely learning to look at a project as a product for capitalistic needs over self-expression) and also have to add a lot of components to your knowledge like branding, marketing, etc.

Luckily the fear of letting the corporate machine suck my soul out forever (I used to be in banking) outweighed my cynicism, so I sucked it up and made a business for myself.

But actually, the moment that really changed my perception of reality was when I accidentally started one of the world’s top modern art sites (at the time) with a group of friends way back in 2005 or so.

We were originally going to make a collaborative portfolio site to try and get clients for our businesses (filmmakers, photographers, graphic designers, etc.) and I was trying to solve the problem of how to get someone to come back to our website once they’ve visited it once.

So I had this hypothesis that if instead of making a simple portfolio site, if we actually made a blog and just shared dope art we love with the world, it might give people a reason to come back.

See, as artsy friends, we used to email each other all the coolest artists we found surfing the internet and would “ooh” and “aah” together. We were honestly quite snobby! We thought we had extremely good taste, lol. So I proposed instead of keeping it internal, we would share what we find in one place, a blog.

The rules were simple, we could share any kind of visual art in any medium, as long as there were no politics, the only rule was that the art had to be “dope.”

And so Empty Kingdom was born. (website now defunct)

how-henry-finn-built-2m-year-video-production-company-working-with-the-biggest-brands-in-the-world I still remember to this day, the night of our “launch.”

We were sitting around with some beers asking each other how many visitors would it be nice to have by the end of the year. We thought a few thousand would be incredible.

We had no intention of “marketing” it, we would just create it and see what happened.

And within 11 months we got 1.8 million unique visitors that crashed our site multiple times (broke college students that didn’t have a penny for hosting). At our peak, I think we were reaching 5 million visitors a year.

The crazy part was this was with zero marketing. It was pure organic reach before organic reach was a term. We literally didn’t even bother announcing it to our friends and family. The internet found us, loved us, and shared with us. Our number one source of traffic was Stumbleupon.

When we started our Facebook we were proud bc we knew every single like was authentic and real, because we never asked for one or paid for one. Our payment was the blood, sweat, and tears we poured into sourcing the most amazing art and creating content our audience craved.

And within a few more years we were throwing art shows at major events like Art Basel or SXSW. We worked with over 20 volunteers working on the site from London to Amsterdam, India, and many more countries.

Again, all this was due to hard work and dedication, none of it was easy.. Except the love. That came easy.

What had started as a hypothesis turned into a movement because we felt a greater sense of purpose, spread art around the world and create a connection between cultures for the love of the same thing.

Love of Art.

It was completely insane, completely on accident, we had built a movement all for the love of Art.

Now, this is all before the rise of paid advertising, growth hacking, viral marketing, and even social media. This was pre-Instagram, hell our top social site was Myspace! That says a lot.

I’m really, really, lucky it happened that way because the brand-building lessons I learned were truly powerful and applicable in a deep foundational way that transcends technology itself.

Because of that “content platform” I learned how to build an audience, how to talk to an audience, and how to convert that audience into raving fans that would literally take photos of themselves wearing our bumper sticker on their throat.


What I learned was two things: Great authentic content rules all.

GREAT content. Not just good.

Good is the enemy of great, and if your content isn’t great, it’s JUST FUCKING NOISE, MAN.

Having a higher standard in the quality of our presentation translated into a higher level of trust from our audience.

AUTHENTIC because if it’s truly authentic you will speak to the root core of a person’s being in a way that allows you to move past sales into a real relationship in their hearts and minds.

It’s a buzz word that people use sometimes but actually it’s beyond a buzz word because audiences are becoming more and more sensitive to what is authentic, even how you use the word.

As I observed our fans, I learned back in 2005 was that the world was moving towards a hyper-sensitive and tribalized future where we live and bleed for our special interests.. sound about right? Lol.

For better or worse, the content has the power to move people and the strength of that power depends solely on how deeply you understand, love, and provide for your audience.

You can’t be everything to everyone.. But you can be everything to someone specific.

Now, at the time we were all broke post-college students running a basically not-for-profit organization and since we refused to monetize it, it couldn’t survive. We all went back to developing our careers individually and I went on to apply my lessons from that experiment to my clients today.





Source [1]