If you have not heard of Shootsta and you constantly need to film and edit videos, then you are in luck as the company specialises in enabling and empowering their clients to make professional videos.
In this interview, we spoke to the founder and CEO of Shootsta, Mike Pritchett, to hear from him on what the company does, how it started and what sets them apart from their competition.
What were you doing before you founded Shootsta?
In 2004, I was travelling Asia while making videos for an international media company. After about two and a half years of that, I decided to start my own production studio, Trapdoor Productions, in 2006. One thing led to another and I eventually started Shootsta in 2014 as a result of the growing demand we were getting to produce cost-effective videos with fast-turnaround for our clients.
What is Shootsta and how did you come up with the name?
Shootsta is the only subscription-based scalable video solution in the world, educating and enabling brands to make high-quality, cost-effective videos in just 24 hours. We are a video tech company with a SaaS-based platform and a backend service.
As for the name, any entrepreneur that has tried to name a company knows the sad truth, that you need to come up with a hundred names before you find a website domain that’s available. I was thrilled when I discovered Shootsta.com was available. Our model is all about enabling clients to Shoot content, so a play on the word was an obvious choice.
How did the idea come about?
Shootsta was born out of sheer necessity and demand. Back in 2014, I was getting swamped with demands from corporate clients who wanted to shoot videos at a fast pace. I quickly realized that it would be too slow and costly to keep up with this kind of demand using the traditional production house model, which requires you to deploy entire production teams on a shoot, and then have another post-production team to edit the content after that.
I realised there were countless in-efficiencies in the traditional model. So I partnered up with my best mate Tim Moylan, who has a background in cloud-based infrastructure and we launched Shootsta. After a bit of tinkering, we came up with a solution where we would send out video kits to clients while teaching them basic video skills and providing production support.
Essentially, you are equipping your clients to shoot their own videos. What’s the key difference between having their own equipment and using your services?
Our services aren’t limited to merely providing video kits. What makes Shootsta special is the value we provide our clients by upskilling their workforce and educating them on how to shoot professional-quality content while also providing production support and a cloud platform to streamline the entire process.
To use the classic ‘give a man a fish’ analogy, we’re renting out fishing rods and teaching our clients how to haul in a nice catch while providing the icebox and grilling the fish for them, all within 24 hours.
There are other similar video production services in Singapore like 90 Seconds. How does Shootsta compete with them or is the target audience different?
There are lots of video production solutions out there, many of which are doing a great job, but our offering is totally unique as we’re not just a video production service. We’re about empowering our clients to tell their own stories – we simply provide them with the equipment, technology, education and strategies to do so. As a result, we’re working with multiple teams within an organisation, from marketing and sales to HR and Learning & Development. Our cost per video is considerably cheaper and the upside of an engaged and empowered internal team has been a massive advantage for our clients.
What were your challenges setting up Shootsta and how did you overcome them?
I always find it funny when I’m asked what the challenges were. Anyone that’s built a global business of any kind would be able to write a novel on the challenges they’ve faced. Every day brings a new and unexpected challenge, however, that’s what I love about it. Geography is always a challenge – if we were 90 staff in one building, it would be easier to communicate, engage and encourage the team, but when spread across six countries, it’s not easy. The key to this challenge has been hiring great people! It always comes back to the people, with the right team, you can overcome just about anything.
What about funding? How do you first raise money to buy all the equipment and hire your team?
We were bootstrapping from the beginning, with most of the funds coming from my other business, Trapdoor Productions. We have taken on a small amount of capital in the beginning, however, that was quickly spent in Australia and all of our international expansion has been funded from cashflow. Unlike a lot of other startups, our business model has had a clear revenue stream from the start as well as being very scalable.
It boggles my mind how somewhere along the way, people have lost sight of the value of being a solid, profitable business, and instead focused only on the potential scalability of a given model in order to secure funding. We may consider taking further funding to scale faster in the future, however, right now we want to make sure the fundamentals are in place first.
Shootsta was founded in Sydney. But you chose to set up your headquarters in Singapore. Why?
Having travelled and worked in several countries, Singapore is in a league of its own when it comes to supporting young and fast scaling global businesses. There is a can-do culture which is important, combined with an outward-looking global curiosity that makes it a sponge for talent, culture and ideas.
On a human level, it’s one of the easier time zones to communicate with various markets which is pretty helpful when you have a young family already demanding your time late at night and early in the morning. Also, with offices around the world, you can’t beat the convenience of Changi.
What do you think of the quality of videos produced by your clients as compared to those professionally done?
This is a funny one, having spent over a decade creating high-end content the last thing I wanted to do was start a company that filled the internet with more crap! To be completely honest, as an industry professional, I have been pleasantly surprised at how well our clients can shoot content. We’re not trying to rival Game of Thrones here, it’s horses for courses; but it’s the kind of content that corporates need to create 90% of the time, that can be shot internally with the right training and equipment.
I think the quality of the end product our clients create, speaks for itself. We have trainers and customer success teams who dedicate hours teaching every client to use Shootsta’s top-of-the-line equipment to shoot videos to a professional standard of quality.
Furthermore, I’ll add that it’s amazing what a good editor can do with the footage, and our teams of editors are able to produce professional-grade content from some pretty interesting footage.
Within three years, Shootsta has expanded its operations From Sydney to Singapore, London, San Diego and Hong Kong. Are you looking to venture into more market in the next few years?
Absolutely. Following the success of our new market growth this year in Asia, the US and Europe, we’ll be rolling out into more new markets this year, having created a solid blueprint to allow us to scale effectively by rapidly building, and deploying teams in those territories.
Now that Shootsta is profitable. What’s next? To sustain or create new products and services?
With all the market and product knowledge, we have gained over the past four years, there’s no possible way we could just sit on our hands and stay where we are. The video industry is on fire and I believe it’s only just getting started. We have new and exciting products underway at the moment that we plan to release in the near future. However, short of having all of your readers sign an NDA, that’s all I can share for now.
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