TL;DR | We’re excited to announce I’m joining UP Global (which many k
now of through their Startup Weekend program) as Technical Project Manager.
I leave you in the steady, weathered hands of the current Bootstrapper Sherpas. I’ll remain an advisor to Bootstrapper Studios and What Now? Exactly!, and want to thank everyone who’s helped us along the way – We’re excited for the next chapter of this already stupefying story.
In this post…
- Starting a creative services company in the middle of a global economic meltdown isn’t normally a recipe for success.
- Have you heard of this thing called YouTube? I think it might be important.
- Oh the places you’ll Sundance.
- It takes a Wygle.
- From $3.1 million in Kickstarter campaigns to reinventing sports broadcasting in less than three years.
- So what’s next? Wygle is helming Bootstrapper and I’m joining UP Global.
Starting a creative services company in the middle of a global economic meltdown isn’t normally a recipe for success
It’s been a few crazy years working with the grizzled sherpas of Bootstrapper Studios.
Like I tell my friends, starting a creative services company in the middle of a global economic meltdown isn’t normally a recipe for success.
In July 2011 I had just been laid off from pinch/zoom – a product management job with a team and projects I loved (Go BBC iPad App!) – and it was scary.
My wife Jen and I had been making ends meet with me working full time and her working part time writing scripts / leading the animated explainer company we’d just started.
I was waiting for the bus in front of the now defunct Peet’s Coffee in Fremont when I called Jen, severance check in hand, to tell her the news.
After the initial shock, she said, “Well, I guess it’s time to get your video shit out of the basement, hang out a shingle and start telling everyone you make videos for a living.”
How many wives do you know who tell their husbands they are not allowed to go get a W-2 job?
Have you heard of this thing called YouTube? I think it might be important
Many have heard me tell the story of how I got into making a living creating videos, but this is the first time I’ve written it down.
As a flash developer in the early 2000’s, when I saw Macromedia’s announcement that video playback was going to be added to the flash player, it became instantly clear that the web would devour all video broadcast and distribution.
So, with a hunch toward its inevitability, I kept my eyes peeled for the launch of something like YouTube.
2005 and 2006 turned out to be magical years.
While I’d begun to gel with the maturing Seattle tech community through events like Seattle Mind Camp 1, I also landed a 50% remote / 50% commute to Stanford gig designing and building online learning systems for the MDs / RNs of Stanford Children’s Hospital.
There’s nothing like a 1.5 year hard stop consulting gig in a remote city to kick your local networking plan in the ass.
So I bought a bunch more video gear, started showing up to as many local tech events I could, and relentlessly repeated, “That’s really cool, can I help you put video of that on the web? Have you heard of this thing called YouTube, I think it might be important.”
As they say, some advice never gets old – eventually I met Brady Forrest in late 2006 and began producing all the videos for Ignite Seattle that helped spread the event worldwide.
This pattern repeated itself until I found myself being the guy who knows about 10% more about web video than other folks.
I’d grab coffee at least once a week to share how I was hacking together interesting things with little to no budget – what started with miniDV SD cams, eventually led to HD editing (and file management!), recording straight to disk, streaming, and editing multiple camera streams on the fly.
Oh, the places you’ll Sundance!
In the summer of 2009, my friend Jason Preston and I started talking about streaming a Twitter conference he was producing in Los Angeles.
I’d just begun hearing about ways to live mix multiple cameras via Mac laptops with some affordable software packages that were emerging.
This was interesting to me for two reasons:
- I was spending way too much of my weekends editing the volunteer project video than playing with my kids. If I could do the editing in realtime, it meant I could reduce the workload by nearly 50%.
- It was also the first time I clearly saw how those ESPN multi-million dollar broadcast semi-trucks would eventually fit in the back of a Prius and cost a helluva lot less.
As one thing led to another, Jen and I eventually found ourselves streaming that conference in LA along with the next one at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010.
At Sundance we did nutty stuff – like hack a wireless mic into an iPhone, mount it all on a monopod, then stream wireless video interviews from the street.
The one with Bob Saget was particularly funny as much larger more expensive camera crews began filming Jen filming Bob because they couldn’t believe we were live broadcasting with that rig.
Here’s a clip of that where Saget notes his initials are BS, which also happen to be the initials of this studio – coincidence? Oh, and then Geordi from Star Trek beamed in. You can’t make it up folks.
It takes a Wygle
Like I was saying, through all these fun side projects, Jen and I had a hunch that I might be able to make a living doing video production full time if I had to – but it was more of a hunch than a business plan.
Luckily, in January 2011, I’d invited my recently laid off pal Adam Wygle to hang out at pinch/zoom to learn the multi-cam production workflow as we prototyped a mobile design / development show called The Context.
Wygle started doing my side video projects with me and we discovered he had a real knack for it – so much so that when I got laid off in July that year, and he was still laid off, we decided to combine laid off forces – with him leading production and me leading biz dev.
Right after I talked to Jen while at the bus stop in Fremont, I called my friend Andy Sack who invited Wygle and I into some space at Founder’s Co-op in South Lake Union where we could figure out what the hell we were doing.
That is the day Bootstrapper Studios was born, and it’s been amazing to see Wygle grow from a green entrepreneur into a business leader who now sherpas multiple projects, clients, and crews safely up and down mountains.
From $3.1 million in Kickstarter campaigns to reinventing sports broadcasting in less than three years
The month we hung out our shingle, we had enough projects to not only buy our kids shoes, but to also use video in ways we never imagined – ways that reinvented how people reshape the world around them.
To date we’ve:
- Produced 5 Kickstarter Videos for campaigns that have grossed over $3.1 million combined. At the time the Shadowrun Returns campaign closed, it was the third highest grossing Kickstarter Campaign of all time.
- Reinvented sports broadcasting with our coverage of the Seattle Reign FC women’s soccer team’s inaugural 2013 season. We built such a rapport with Reign FC and National Women’s Soccer League fans, that they actively promoted our production team, even when we were not broadcasting.
- Raised over $36k with a completely different tack to community storytelling / branding / PR with our successfully funded We Make Seattle Kickstarter project (currently under production).
- Helped propel #HowSeattleRiots into a city defining meme. Wygle’s “you riot, no you riot…” tweet has been one of the most visible in the thread, with 265 retweets and 195 favorites as of this posting:
- And created hundreds of other event videos and product demos for companies around the world.
It’s humbling to have had the community support us to the point of closing out 2013 with a total annual gross revenue of $409,594, a full time team of 3.5 people, and having helped dozens of talented production contractors also pay their bills while practicing their gifts in the city they love.
Going from $0 in July 2011 to over $400k in the middle of a global economic meltdown has been a stupefying crazy journey – and we’re pretty sure it’s only the beginning.
So what’s next? Wygle is helming Bootstrapper and I’m joining UP Global.
With the awesome job Wygle and our core team of project manager Adam Baggett and producer Maurice Morales have been doing, Bootstrapper Studios has needed my hands on attention less and less over the last six months.
With Wygle at the helm and the Bootstrapper team flying fine without me, I’ve been exploring a lot of interesting next things, and today I’m pleased to announce what’s next for me.
As of this week, I’m joining UP Global (which many know of through their Startup Weekend program) as Technical Project Manager.
Since meeting UP CEO Marc Nager at Gnomedex 2009, I’ve been super impressed with what he and the team have done to infect people around the world with the actionable possibilities of becoming entrepreneurs (Startup Weekend Tehran anyone?).
I’m excited to begin working with Dave Parker, UP vp of Product, Technical Director David Pierce, and Brand Director Mike Mates to build out products / tools that accelerate and scale the amazing work UP is up to.
I’ll remain an advisor to Bootstrapper Studios and What Now? Exactly!, and want to thank everyone who’s helped us along the way – I’m excited for the next chapter of this already amazing story.
I leave you in the steady, weathered hands of the current Sherpas at Bootstrapper Studios.
Shalom. May the deep peace that reconciles all things be upon us all.