This is a follow up story for Lemonlight . If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hello! My name is Hope Horner, and I’m the co-founder and CEO of Lemonlight, a self-serve video production engine that allows brands and agencies to create high-quality content on-demand and at scale.
In 2014, the average cost of a commercial was $342,000 according to the American Advertising Association. This made video production unrealistic for small- and medium-sized businesses - a market that was hungry for digital marketing solutions.
As video technology became less expensive, we recognized the opportunity to produce high-quality content affordably and pass those savings on to customers. We commoditized the video industry by creating transparency in the pricing and production process that allowed clients to customize the video services they needed.
Today, Lemonlight continues to pioneer the industry through cutting edge technology that’s designed to offer video intelligence solutions to increase our customer’s ROI and create custom content at scale.
Lemonlight has been recognized as a Top 500 Fastest Growing Company by Inc. Magazine and as one of the Top 360 Companies by Entrepreneur Magazine for the past three consecutive years.
In 2020, Lemonlight was home to an in-house team of ~50 team members and more than ~500 freelancers across the world. Together, we have produced more than 9,000 videos and we average $600,000 in sales per month.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
What a year! Navigating our way through COVID-19 hasn’t been easy. As a production company, most of our work includes a dozen people on set with lots of interactions.
Have everyone go through the same steps so that you can make an objective decision with all the relevant facts.
After the lock-downs were put in place in March, we had to make the tough decision to furlough most of the team in April. We wanted to be as careful as possible since we had no idea how impactful this was going to be. During that month, we sat down to really think about what we needed to do to get through this. We came up with some new products that were centered around post-production, which means people didn’t have to go on set. We revisited people’s roles and thought about how their time could be spent if productions were low. In other departments, we thought about what we could do to get ahead and proactively tackle some long-term initiatives.
We also kept ourselves informed about the government subsidies - notably, the EDIL and the PPP loan, both of which we applied for the day they became available.
Over the next few months, we slowly brought the team back as business picked up. We also took the time to make new key-hires that were long overdue.
Today, we have everyone back and we just had two record-breaking sales months.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
If you haven’t done it in a while, revisit every step of your interview process, even with referrals.
It’s easy to want to take a shortcut and hire a friend of a friend or a team member’s referral without going through your normal interview steps. My biggest advice is - don’t. Have everyone go through the same steps so that you can make an objective decision with all the relevant facts.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Over the past year, we built a proprietary software solution to streamline the video production process, and we’re excited to launch in January 2021. To complement the product, we’re excited to revamp our website to explain the new platform, share updated content, and drive new sign-ups.
We invested a lot of time and resources into this product - here’s why: video content maintains a stronghold as the leader in preferred advertising methods, but there’s a steep learning curve as organizations try to figure out how to develop an effective video marketing strategy that repeatedly delivers a positive return on investment. Lemonlight’s new platform solves this problem by using video intelligence to recommend a video content strategy, which its team then uses to produce high-quality, affordable content anywhere in the world.
Beyond that, we’re focused on transitioning Lemonlight from a service-based business to a tech company, which will allow us to scale more quickly and reach more customers.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Lost and Founder by Rand Fishkin
Rand Fishkin, CEO & Co-Founder of SEOmoz, takes a very honest approach to debunk some of the most famous myths behind Silicon Valley startups. By sharing his own experiences, he empowers founders by sharing the truth and reminds us that startup success can look in many different ways.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things - Ben Horowitz
I reread this book because, well, what a year.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Running our business remotely is challenging. We’ve lost the collaborative office culture filled with energy and excitement. We’ve actively explored how to harness that energy remotely, but it hasn’t been easy. Here are some of the things we did, which have worked well.
Appointed a Fun Committee: - A small group of people who is responsible for coming up with team activities and contests each month. They’re given a budget and support and it’s really created a more collaborative experience. Some of the things that have been a hit were a quarantine meme contest to see who could submit the best meme, a company-wide bingo game, a costume contest, and more. Giving everyone an outlet to let loose has proven to be a great way to reconnect.
Regular Group Virtual Lunches: Whether we pick the group or the groups form on their own, each month, a group of 4-5 people gets together for a virtual lunch that the company pays for. We’ve put together a questions bank so that everyone can pull from there and it’s led to some really interesting and wonderful conversations.
Consistent Meeting Schedule: Implemented more structured meetings to ensure the right people are collaborating regularly and that others have a place to bring any challenges. In the office, we had an open-door policy so people regularly shared what was going well and what needed improvement. Without that regular communication, things were getting missed. Creating a more structured meeting schedule helped bring back that transparency and ownership.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes, we’re currently hiring for the following positions:
- Production Manager
- Software Development Engineer
- HR Generalist
- Performance Marketing Manager
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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