How We Make $2M/Year Crafting Explainer Videos From Scratch
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi! I’m Andre Oentoro, founder of Breadnbeyond, a digital studio focusing on animated explainer video production. I founded the company back in 2009, and it’s been more than a decade since we helped our first client deliver their messages through short animated content that’s now widely known as explainer videos.
We craft explainer videos from scratch, from writing down the concept to the animation process. The main vision is to ensure that we bring our client’s stories to life, helping their business stand out from the competition so that they can increase conversions and boost online visibility.
Since the very beginning, I have always looked beyond the border to grow the business by taking it international and catering to clients across the globe. Which is unique when I started this business. Most of our clients are based in the U.S and they are growing by more than 100% each year, at least in the first few years.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
In the first few years after I started the company, we only focused on graphic designs. We used to create logos, branding, banners, posters, and more — to create an identity for brands. I started with designing my friend’s businesses at the very beginning. Back in 2009, there were not many freelancers who work online. It’s a wild, wild, west situation back then.
Thanks to the power of word of mouth referrals and nice online reviews from our first few clients that can help our business off the ground quite fast. I hired my first employee after 5 months of establishing the business and adding more workforce gradually since.
We pivoted to the animation business starting from August if I remember correctly. There’s this client from Boulder, Colorado that we’ve been working with for dozens of small projects. He asked if we can create an animation for recruitment.
It was our first kinetic typography project. Nothing amazing, it’s made with Adobe Flash (it still exist back then!), and the animation itself is very crude. But we love the chance to work on this project because of the dynamic design that we can work on, and he’s bringing in more projects week after week.
Once we have enough projects on our portfolio, I started offering other clients similar animation, and that’s basically how we grow our business.
As our capacity expanded and the client base keeps growing, I pivoted Breadnbeyond into a full-service animated video company. I decided to focus fully on crafting animated explainer videos for businesses from various industries, and let go of the other design graphic projects that are coming to our plate. Later on, I founded another company called Milkwhale with my partner Ebnu, but that’s another story I guess.
What’s your process to create a video for a customer?
Before we started the creative process, we need to gather ideas with our clients. In this phase, we share two sets of questionnaires with them.
The first one is required to develop the script, and the second is to better understand the clients’ style preferences. They can also choose the background music and voice-over talent that they want to work with through that questionnaire.
We make the process as straightforward as possible. To explain it briefly, we have a 6-step process as follows:
Gathering the ideas
Voice over recording
We work step by step, and we provide three rounds of revision for each phase for the clients. We also won’t move forward to the next step before getting clients’ approval to the current step we are working on.
During the process, we use the Basecamp page as our management tool. It’s easier to track the progress of each project, and the assigned Account Manager will send updates to every client on that platform.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I started the business as a small digital media agency. Our services are revolving around everything about graphic designs, and back then, our main goal was simply to do what our clients requested for their company, whether it’s creating company profile and branding campaigns or even a website. Needless to say, our company wasn’t focusing on anything back then.
Now that we evolved into an explainer video production company that makes who we are today, we decided to focus on online branding by using our website as one of our initial strategies to build an online presence.
Since then, our website has become the front door of our business. It’s the hub for our online marketing efforts. It’s the place where we put any information about our company.
For our business finance itself, we essentially have been profitable from day 1 — we’re an agency, after all. Considering that up to that point, our only "expense" was that of our time and software subscription, and computer purchases. So we can say that as long as there’s a project we work on, we can foot our bill.
The biggest lesson I learned since our launch is that we are doing multiple complexes, time-consuming processes. We are doing everything on our production line from start to finish.
Although the company gained a loyal following and is highly profitable, it’s quite hard to scale quickly and focus on growth.
And another thing that we found challenging is the fact that we also had to do whatever our clients requested, even when we don’t like the idea or pitch, and it may not incline in our best interest.
We believe that at the end of the day, they are the ones who will use the video and pay for the production process.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since we provide a service that reaches clients globally, we always aim to build a strong, solid online presence. We focus on organic inbound marketing strategies; content creation, social media strategies, link-building campaigns, and everything else in our playbook to attract new clients now, and to establish ourselves in the market for the long run.
That said, one of the most crucial strategies we always do since launch is content creation. We constantly produce a variety of content, such as e-books, power pages, expert roundups, infographics, in-depth articles, and obviously, videos.
Not only writing about explainer videos, though — we also write about video marketing and digital marketing topics to help potential clients understand the industry and how they can benefit from the videos that we made them.
We also try to actively get featured on guest posts and expert round-ups from authoritative websites – and this is also one of the reasons we are here in Starter Story.
These contents help us to maintain our website traffic and strengthen our online branding, making it easier for our potential clients to find our service online. And of course, we make sure that every content we create brings value to our target clients, which keeps them coming back.
Without the drive to excel, your performance will lack passion.
For retaining the existing clients, we try to keep in touch with them through email campaigns. Special offers are also a powerful way to build a meaningful relationship with our existing clients, helping them to create top-of-mind awareness of our brand.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
For more than a decade after the launch of the business, we’ve worked on so many projects, and the numbers keep growing each year. We manage to stay profitable as we keep the project flowing. Although I don’t really won’t say anything about our revenue, we can see that our client base is continually expanding.
As our business is growing, I decided to increase the number of employees.
Today, we have 42 employees and are in the middle of planning to build a new, bigger office to facilitate our growing needs, as well as expanding the number of our employees in the process.
Now that we’re aware of the business that has become more complex, we also need to develop more advanced marketing strategies to stay ahead of the game. Besides focusing on the quality of the video we produce and deliver, we also spend more and more time, energy, and budget on digital strategies to attract new clients and keep our sales funnel full.
For today and even years to come, we aim to constantly enhance our website performance and traffic to maintain our functional lead and reflect our global client’s needs.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I founded the company back in 2009, where explainer videos are starting to rise above the clutter and took the center stage in the digital marketing field.
Instead of focusing too much on achieving short-term goals; collect all the profits now and get momentary success
Up until today, explainer videos are still growing in popularity — making us one of the known pioneers in the field with a broad experience and portfolio. It helps us generate trust from new clients quite easily.
Although we are based in Indonesia, we have no problem expanding our reach to international markets and working with clients around the world. With a wide variety of clients from different industries, we have a chance to build an even more solid reputation as well as testimonials, case studies, and success stories from them.
To maintain our business position and stand out from the competition, we make sure we have skilled, professional in-house artists in the production. We invest in professional training to hone our team’s skills to constantly create an impact for our clients and provide them more value.
However, for more than a decade in the industry, we’ve been encountering various challenges. One of them is dealing with bad debt. As we are working internationally, litigations can be costly and hard to enforce. We dealt with several cases of bad debts and startups that suddenly went bankrupt just in a few months after being founded.
It’s quite challenging for us to work with newly founded startups. We have to experience the ups and downs of the startup industry our clients belong to. When we make a deal with a company, they may be able to engage with our business in the first month, and two-three months later, they suddenly collapse and do not have any money to continue the operation, which means it terminates the deal and relationship.
However, with our experienced team, we have all the in-house knowledge and resources to be able to overcome challenges and cope with the situation in a professional manner.
In the end, it helps us to retain clients and grow more mature. This is what makes our company different from many explainer video production companies that sometimes only rely on freelancers for their creative processes without having a solid in-house artist.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
When talking about tools, we rely on Basecamp to maintain communication with the client we work with. We communicate every process and ask them for feedback through this tool. Meanwhile, we also use Asana to streamline all the workflow and maintain internal communication to make sure that all team members are on the same page.
We also utilize digital marketing tools quite a lot. We use Ahrefs to track and monitor our website and content performance. We utilize our blog, made in WordPress to provide our audience and target clients with more valuable content. Last but not least, we use YouTube as a platform to showcase our works and let more people know about our products.
For creative production, we use Adobe Creative Suite, which has been the industry standard for years. We’ve been experiencing other animation tools such as Blender, but not much has been done with that so far.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
One of the podcasts I’ve been listening to for the past five or six years is Andrew Warner’s Mixergy. I’ve been listening to a lot to those inspiring startup stories during my commute, for at least one hour every day.
Also, I’ve been listening to Noah Kagan’s podcast for about two or three years now, I guess. It’s interesting for me to get involved in their community and understand more about everyone's perspectives and values as well as learn from how they help each other. In return, I’ve got more than an amazing experience. I’ve learned a lot from them and got the motivation to keep going forward.
When it comes to books, I’m a quite big fan of entrepreneurship and startup stories. Steve Jobs' biography by Walter Isaacson is probably one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read. It was fascinating to learn so much about the person who influences almost every aspect of our lives.
I’ve also learned a lot from Tim Ferris' The 4-Hour Workweek (I also listen to his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, frequently). Seth Godin’s and Tony Robbins' works also inspired me a lot. And I was lucky enough to meet Tony Robbins in person at one of his events in Singapore.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
One of the most important things to start any business is to find out what you like and enjoy. It's crucial to make you feel motivated and inspired in your career. Without the drive to excel, your performance will lack passion and, in turn, your company may suffer.
Once you love what you do and translate it into a business, it would be much easier for you to learn from your surroundings — employees, clients, advisors, and competitors — and you never stop and get tired of learning. This way, you can gain and develop the staying power that can ensure your business’s success and longevity. Making your business stay in the game for decades in an always-changing environment is almost impossible without the staying power, after all.
So, instead of focusing too much on achieving short-term goals; collecting all the profits now, and getting momentary success, it’s always better to become a visionary. I believe that's how a long-lasting and successful business can re-examine and redesign its business plans to constantly anticipate any changes in the marketplace.
At Breadnbeyond, we always have a plan, and we always want to grow. This is how we can keep up with trends to maintain our growth and leave a long-term legacy.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Always hiring more people: artists, illustrators, and digital marketers. For further information, check out our careers page.
Right now we are in the process of building our new office building, which can hold more than 3 times our current size.
The plan was starting to unfold before the pandemic, and we are aiming to double our workforce by the end of 2020. However, as we know, when the pandemic started in March 2020, a lot of businesses in the world is conserving cash and switched to a defensive position.
We want to make sure that we have a sustainable work-life balance to ensure that our team is always safe and healthy while working safely from their own homes.
We believe that working full-time helps with the results and experience. This depends on the culture, but where we live, we know that with a full-time job, our team can push their output more than 100% as they are confident about their job security.
Where can we go to learn more?
Definitely on our website, but we have all of our social media consistently updated as well.
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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