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With Scott Orn

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Scott Orn

Scott Orn, CFA

David Mayer, founder of Elemmir, talks about the value of video for B2B businesses and the services Elemmir delivers

Posted on: 07/12/2022

David Mayer

David Mayer

Founder and CEO - Elemmir


David Mayer of Elemmir - Podcast Summary

David Mayer, founder of Elemmir and Emmy-nominated director/producer, talks about the value of video for B2B businesses and the cost-effective video solutions Elemmir delivers to help companies with B2B marketing.

David Mayer of Elemmir - Podcast Transcript

Scott: Hey, it’s Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting, and thanks for joining us on Founds & Friends for another awesome podcast. Let’s give a quick shout out to the Kruze Consulting accounting team. We’re very fortunate, we have a ton of people at Kruze who work on the monthly books for our clients and get them all set up, due diligence ready, rocking every month, answering all the clients’ questions, making all those adjustments. And there’s no better moment for a founder, and for us really, when the founder says, “Hey, I think I’m going to get a term sheet, are my books ready for diligence?” And we get to say, “Yes, they are. Fire away. Send them over, give them access.” That is a great feeling, it’s the feeling that lets us know we’ve done a job very well done, and nothing is better than watching that cash hit the bank account. So if you are a venture backed startup, you’re going out to fundraise, maybe check us out. Check us out at KruzeConsulting.com. We love what we do. At taping here, I think we have 575 clients? Our clients raised over a billion dollars this year, so we know what we’re doing and hopefully we can help you be successful in your fundraise. All right, let’s get to the podcast. Thanks.
Singer: (Singing). It’s Kruze Consulting’s Founder & Friends with your host, Scotty Orn.
Scott: Welcome to Founder & Friends Podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting. And today, my very special guest, David Mayer of Elemmir. Welcome, David.
David: Thank you, thank you. I’m excited to be here.
Scott: So, this is like old hat for you. Elemmir is a video company. So, if I botch this interview, I am terrible.
David: Yeah, but what-
Scott: This should be the easiest interview I do and I need to…
David: We’re good off camera; not necessarily on camera though, so it’s a different piece.
Scott: So maybe you could start just by retracing your career and telling us how you had the idea for Elemmir.
David: Yeah, sure. So, I guess way back, I’m basically a lifelong filmmaker, I’ve been making films since I was little. I like to say it’s an illness that kept with me and somehow turned into a career. And I guess to keep it somewhat short, I… For Fall, when I went to Duke, played a little basketball at Duke, I was a walk on there.
Scott: No way.
David: Yeah. And then I left the team after my freshman year to focus full time on filmmaking. So, I usually brag that I was like the OG one and done, which is always a crowd pleaser.
Scott: You went pro in film making.
David: And then after that, I focused full-time on filmmaking; for close to a decade, made independent films, PBS, complex networks, different places in North Carolina where I’m from. So, I ran a small production company with a friend of mine. And over the years, to pay the bills and also it was a passion of mine, I started doing video work for startups. And I got connected to a number of companies in vertical SaaS in Silicon Valley a number of years ago and started doing their videos for them. And I realized pretty quickly that the solutions for these companies were not that great, they were generally… These were B2B SaaS companies, so highly complex problems, in industries that, generally, they were outsiders in. And the video solutions out there were either really, really, really expensive and probably not that great, or they were really bad. And it was just amazing to me, and honestly, it was like a running joke in the filmmaking communities I was in, like “Yeah, you do these videos. They’re really bad, but they’re easy to do and they pay well.” And I was like, “No, this shouldn’t be how it is. These are cool companies doing cool things, and there are people whose lives are being changed, the videos should be good.” And so, it was out of that realization and then a number of other things that led me to start taking this kind of storytelling more seriously. And I guess with Elemmir, when the pandemic hit, I talked a number of clients into letting me do all the same videos we were doing with a remote process; and it turns out, very cost effective and very effective way to tell stories. And so, from there we raised our seed round with clients of mine and then with the goals of building Elemmir, and that’s where we’re at. So that’s kind of the short of it.
Scott: It’s a great story. And you’re right, the power of video as a medium is so amazing. I mean, that’s one of the reasons we’re doing this podcast right now, and we’re doing video. I mean, we’re vertical SaaS, so to speak, too. We’re focused on accounting for startups, and nothing resonates with our client base as much as just doing video tutorials, or even just doing video hellos and things like that.
David: Totally.
Scott: And so, I’m actually a huge believer in what you’re doing. And the fact that you… I mean, I think we’ll kind of get into this, but you basically are pioneering a remote-first approach to this, which I’m sure served you well in the COVID times, and we’re still in the COVID times, but like the really bad COVID times.
David: Yeah.
Scott: But we were talking before we turned the camera on of like, “Oh gosh, Kruze should refresh a couple things,” and the fact that you can do this with minimal disruption on the working day and do it remotely and do it at cost point is… Because people don’t know, we’ve had videos that we spent like two days on.
David: Yeah.
Scott: Or we’ve done testimonial videos for like Gusto and Zenefits back in the day and QuickBooks, and those were like all day affairs, and then it’s probably like a five-minute video at the end.
David: Yeah.
Scott: So, the fact that you could do this remotely and cost effectively, that’s why I wanted to have you on the pod.
David: Yeah, and, I mean, those two days for you, and then on the back end, the delivery times can be really, really slowed on those things.
Scott: Oh my God, yeah.
David: And that was something that I was finding with a lot of the clients I was working with was, these are companies that time is a huge deal, things need to move quickly. And if they don’t, then video basically becomes irrelevant. Because a product comes out, you build a campaign, you need videos, and also you need to know what works, and you need to be able to learn from what works, and so-
Scott: That’s a treat point.
David: … Our approach is very iterative. If one video works, this piece works, the next one we can adjust it, make this work. And so, I think it’s a lot more in the spirit of what growth, for a lot of these growth companies, means. Whereas a kind of older, slower model, you’re swinging for the fences on one pitch and it’s like, “This is crazy, what are we doing here?”
Scott: Well, you’re making a great point, too, because the fact that you do this for lots of companies gives me a lot of comfort that you actually know what works for our kind of company. And you probably have done 50 or 100 Founder videos, and our video’s going to have Vanessa in it and Vanessa’s going to be telling the story, and these are things that work.
David: And I think for our team, that’s a really fun thing. It’s interesting, people always ask, “How do you get talented filmmakers to join your team? These are boring videos.” And I’m like, “First of all, they don’t have to be boring, so throw that out.” But second of all, it’s really a fun intellectual challenge to figure out, what are the best ways to tell these stories? And our team is constantly thinking about that. We realized the other day for one client that starting with the person’s face on these social media assets that we were making was a lot more effective at increasing the average watch time than having the B roll that we were using starting it.
Scott: Yeah.
David: And I think that level of detail and feedback is just kind of unique about what we’re doing because of the volume.
Scott: Yeah. Well, you also mentioned how you’re a documentary filmmaker, and people who do documentaries are curious by nature and probably pretty good at helping people tell a story or pulling the story out of the subjects, so that resonates with me as a customer.
David: Totally, yeah. Yeah.
Scott: Like, “Wait a second.” Vanessa Kruze actually has an amazing story. She started Kruze when she was 25 or 26 years old, and booked all her clients on Craigslist, and had a tat, and this whole rags to riches story. And if someone isn’t interested in pulling that out of her, it might not get told the right way. So, I think your filmmaking chops plus the techniques you’re deploying, like the remote-first stuff, it makes you super interesting.
David: Yeah, thanks. Yeah, I mean, we definitely feel that way. The other thing that’s exciting to me as a documentary filmmaker is, like you said, documentary filmmakers are curious by nature, they’re also elite at taking complex and large quantities of information and distilling them into palatable bites.
Scott: Yep.
David: And I think that was what I realized when I was making videos for clients over the years is, they thought I was amazing. And look, I’m good, but you should see my team now. Everyone is better than what I was…
Scott: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.
David: And it’s exciting for me to be able to find this skillset and these people, this amazing team that we have, and then put them in front of clients who really have never had access to that level of storytelling ability or whatever.
Scott: Yeah.
David: Yeah, it’s definitely a fun thing about what we’re doing and exciting.
Scott: That’s really neat. Let’s go into a couple things. I want to cover what kind of videos people are making, but first let’s talk about the remote-first aspect, because I think that’s a pretty huge differentiator, maybe.
David: Okay.
Scott: And again, I’m coming from this… I’ll never forget… By the way, another pro of what you’re doing is being able to affordably update the videos every once in a while, because… My wife doesn’t always listen to my podcast, God bless her, but I remember we were runner up for QuickBooks Firm of the Future, this is probably four and a half years ago, which is a huge deal, like we were number two in North America. And so, QuickBooks has come in and Vanessa was, I’m not even joking, like eight and a half months pregnant, and shot three hours’ worth of video.
David: Wow.
Scott: And she’s an eight and a half months pregnant woman, she’s not looking…
David: That’s awesome.
Scott: And to be able to refresh that video would be so nice.
David: Yeah, totally, totally.
Scott: But I remember talking… I think QuickBooks spent like $100,000 on that, or $50,000, it was crazy, right? So, talk about the remote aspect and how you do this and how you get people comfortable.
David: Yeah, so there’s a variety of different techniques we use and it depends a bit on the video, but the short of it and the way I like to think about it is, the best production team that your money’s going to buy, short of like what you mentioned, $100k, is in everybody’s pocket right now, which is the iPhone, or the Android phone, the Google phone. These cameras are really, really good, and they make decisions for us now that previously a professional would’ve made, things like lighting, things like focus. And the reality is, getting that out and having fun with that is pretty effective at doing what production companies would’ve done. And so, I think first and foremost, we leverage that. We love when marketing teams, when our clients, when our clients’ clients have fun with their phones or they have in-house capabilities. Nine times out of 10, a company will have an in-house person who’s savvy with a camera, whether or not they own a camera or not. And then we just brainstorm with people about the best footage that would make sense. And I think most of the time, that’s everything a video needs. The other piece with that that’s fun is, a lot of times the goal of a company, particularly with a customer’s story, is to show that their clients are very invested in their product, and actually having them take part in the filming process shows that really effectively.
Scott: Yep.
David: So it’s actually a technique that can be more effective than an overly polished, tired, corporate-y feeling video.
Scott: Yep, yep.
David: So, we do that and then there’s also tons of… Stock is getting a lot better. We use stock footage… Our whole thing about it is we hate stock footage, and so when we use it, we try to make it feel like it’s not stock footage. And so there’s a lot of really good stuff out there, there’s a lot of really great, growing open source databases of visual effects and motion graphics. And so, we’re just like, “All right, when we don’t have a camera, we’re not spending money traveling and staying in hotels, what kinds of things can we do to make these things pop?” And it turns out, there’s a lot; there’s a lot of things you can do.
Scott: And the fact you keep… Everything builds on the previous set of video… The cool thing about you, you’re kind of like us, you’re this compounding knowledge base of what works and what’s best. And when you find some effects that work, you can deploy those in the next set of videos, it’s really cool.
David: Yeah, and we get to know our clients really intimately. That’s true for clients, so we’re now actually developing products that clients of ours don’t even know we’re developing for them, because we know them so well, we have a little free time, we have all this footage that we’ve worked with them on, and we’re thinking about their company. So as a thank you to like three clients, I just gave them social media assets, which is just so fun and also not something that I think other production companies are really situated to do.
Scott: Oh my God. That’s amazing. So, if I may, because I’m just speculating, but maybe some fun gifts that can be in the company’s Slack channel or on social.
David: Yeah.
Scott: Oh my God, that’s actually really cool.
David: Yeah, yep.
Scott: That’s actually really creative too, because we use gifts like crazy internally on Slack, but to be able to have like a Vanessa Kruze gift or [inaudible].
David: Or even just clips that are good for paid advertising, like top of funnel marketing, like across LinkedIn, just to replace text, it turns out that video is effective.
Scott: Yeah, that’s amazing. That’s really cool. You must be looking at this being like, “Okay, well this is something.” If people are going to value and use that, then maybe this is like… You have the menu, when you someone signs up, to do the video shoot with you.
David: Yeah.
Scott: And then, “Oh, by the way, hey, you want us to include a couple of these other things too?” And you can show them how it’s effective?
David: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. We definitely walk through. And I think one thing we’re finding is video’s changing so fast and the ways people watch video’s changing so fast that we’re learning with our clients.
Scott: Yeah.
David: Because people watch TikTok all the time now, so where companies are marketing is changing. I was in a conference in Chicago, a B2B marketing conference, and there was all this talk about how people are trying to figure out where to use videos and how to use them. They know they’re effective, but they’re not sure where. So, I think it’s fun too, is just we’re able to build relationships with clients where we’re just trying stuff and we’re figuring out what works best for them, and then going from there.
Scott: That’s really neat.
David: Yeah.
Scott: The other kind of where, because we talked about remote, but before we turned on the mics you were talking about, you started doing some physical in-person or through another… You want to talk about the other options besides remote peer?
David: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So, we’ve been shooting conferences, we’ve shot a number of conferences. I think it’s a pretty fun opportunity for companies to get a lot of their partners into the same space and shoot. We just did a conference for a client where we outputted like 50+ videos? Some ridiculous amount of videos.
Scott: Oh my God, oh my God.
David: Because we can make 12 customer story videos, we can film all the speakers and export those, we can make social assets, so I think that’s a fun opportunity to get a lot of cool content. And then yeah, we’ve started offering a remote onsite product. So, we realize that there are times where you want to have a light and a camera and a setup, but we want our filmmakers to still be able to hang out with the subject and do what we do best, which is conduct an interview, get the quotes that we need. And so, we source freelancers through our network of freelancers across… In pretty much any city. And then we set up a iPad or a computer and conduct the interview remote, sourcing the production locally. And obviously, it’s just a lot more cost effective. Nobody has to travel and it’s just easier to schedule, and then the turnaround times are the same, really, as our webcam iPhone technique.
Scott: And you probably get to know the freelancer over and over again and you can keep sending them work, that’s pretty cool.
David: Exactly. And honestly, for us, super meaningful to be able to offer work for other creatives.
Scott: Yeah. Also, just going back to the conference thing, I think that should also apply to offsites, because before we turned on the mics I was telling you, we did the Kruze offsite three weeks ago.
David: Yeah.
Scott: And it was so awesome to get everyone together. And you’re right, you have this critical mass of people and the energy’s flowing. Because we’re a remote company, so the energy’s really flowing when we’re all in-person. And to have those… We had a still photographer, but it just didn’t occur to me to think about video, but I totally should have thought about video.
David: Right. Yeah. And honestly, the other thing that we’ve done, and we did it during COVID, and I’m trying to get clients to do it and some clients are doing this kind of thing, is if some people would just get out their iPhones and film some of that stuff, that’s really usable footage. And we’re starting to tell our clients now like, “All right, look, whenever you go to your customer and visit them, just get footage. Just go get footage as long as they’re okay with it.”
Scott: Yeah.
David: Because it’s not clear how we’ll use it, but we will use it in something, and I think that’s very much a documentarian mentality as like, “Let’s just collect footage, we’ll figure out how to use it in post.” So even if you just asked your team to, “Hey, let’s get out our iPhones and film some stuff and put it all in a Dropbox,” I think that could be effective too.
Scott: I love it, I love it.
David: Yeah.
Scott: I just keep coming back to the conference thing too, because often you have your customers at the conference, people are discovering, it’s such a great… And the incremental cost, especially if you’re doing either the peer remote or even just doing the freelancer remote has got to be ineligible, but you’re extending this asset, this conference asset or offsite asset.
David: Yeah.
Scott: You spent… Like ours, our offsite was like $200,000, I think.
David: Yeah.
Scott: And we spent a huge amount of money on that and I would love… It’s almost like a wedding. I wish I would’ve had the video from that.
David: Yeah, totally. No, I think it is totally worth it. And particularly at those, if… What we did is we set up an interview booth the whole time, and it was just open the entire time, and anybody, like customers, partners, and employees, all kind of hopped in at different times, and we just conducted interviews.
Scott: Awesome.
David: We weren’t even sure exactly what videos we wanted made, but we knew they were all there and we knew that… We understand our client, and we know what themes they’re going for, and things like that, so we’re able to still ask good questions. And then on the back end we can say, “Okay, let’s figure out what’s helpful as we look ahead. What videos do we want?” So, we’re making a recruiting video and custom story videos, so there’s just a lot of different content you can get out of that when everybody’s in the same place, if that makes sense.
Scott: I love it. I love it. We were talking also about the different price points, and, again, you guys are professionals, this like a professional team, but you’re using remote to bring the cost down. But you had something kind of interesting for anyone who’s on the fence out there listening to this, you have a new kind of offer you’re doing to kind of indoctrinate people, right?
David: Yeah. Yeah, we have a $1,000 video that anybody can buy. It’s made in our remote model, it’s a really, really strong video, and it’s $1,000. It’s the best video on the market.
Scott: That’s amazing. And to be able… Because for those that don’t know, these things cost a ton, so that is a testament to your business. You talked about customers, what categories are you having success in? what type of companies are using you?
David: We’re really focused on B2B growth companies. We went to a conference of Chicago and there were tons of B2B marketing teams, and there were like one other video agency even thinking about it.
Scott: Oh my God.
David: And for me, obviously, it’s a big market, it’s an addressable market, and like a niche, but I think that’s kind of going back to my initial passion with why we’re even doing this, is I think that’s part of the reason the videos in this space aren’t great and there aren’t a lot of great solutions is, for whatever reason, there’s just not a lot of people thinking about this.
Scott: Yeah.
David: But also, I think B2B is really, really fun. It’s intellectually challenging to figure out what a company needs, why do they need it, understanding all the players in the space. It gets pretty complex pretty quickly, and I think that’s what we love.
Scott: Yeah. Well, again, going back to your talent of being highly focused and being able to pull out the important tidbits, it’s almost like an editor; you’re almost looking at the video as an editor, probably, as you’re recording it.
David: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Exactly, and I think there’s really fun use cases that come out of doing this work. So, we have a client, I don’t know how much to talk about it, but… So we’re just used in highly transactional business situations that, when you think of video marketing, oftentimes you think of B2C Nike commercials.
Scott: Yeah.
David: It’s like, “Hey, like a Nike commercial.” But it’s a lot more interesting if you’re like, “Okay.” There’s a very specific situation, we’re going to give this video to… One of our clients is a worker’s comp insurance, okay?
Scott: Yeah. Yeah.
David: And so, we made a video to basically give to the broker so that the broker could explain to policy holders who they are. And that’s just a really specific use case of a video that, from a storytelling challenge, is really compelling, because you’re trying to figure out, okay, who is the broker? Who’s the policy holder? And you kind of have to work backwards from all that and it’s fun.
Scott: I can actually really relate to that because we have to teach people that same exact thing, and using a video is actually so much easier. I have had to explain what worker’s comp insurance is to literally hundreds of startups.
David: Right. Right.
Scott: I’ve been asked that question hundreds of times. And then who’s this AP Intego? And that’s the broker that we end up working with a lot because they’re integrated in the payroll systems.
David: Right.
Scott: And it’s like, “Oh, okay,” but that explanation needs to be for people who are technology startup people, who could give a careless, than worker’s comp, they just need to know they need it and why they’re paying for it.
David: Totally, totally. And that’s the other piece about video that’s just really interesting, it’s incredibly scalable because it can be shared on to infinity. So, if you can automate conversations that you have all the time where you find yourself explaining the same things over and over and over and over, if you can make a video that solves that, that’s a big deal. Particularly for bigger companies, that could be to the tunes of millions and millions of dollars. So, it’s a very scalable solution to certain very specific business functions.
Scott: I totally agree. And it builds a lot of trust because you have a human being explaining something and people understand… I’m a huge fan. That’s why I just like what you’re doing so much.
David: Yeah.
Scott: Have you done any like… Because you’re a pretty early stage company so you’re still experimenting a little bit.
David: Yeah.
Scott: Is there anything that’s been so… You’ve tried it and you’re like, “Oh my God, this is crazy, but we’re just going to try it,” and it works, or it doesn’t work, what are some of the funny stories?
David: Yeah. Right now, we’re doing a ton of product development, where we’re just taking footage that we’ve worked on with various people, various clients, and just trying new stuff. So, we just edited a 10-minute documentary for a client that is really good, but I have no idea if they’re going to buy it, so it was like, “We’re not quite sure why we…”
Scott: Almost like a spec video or something like that.
David: We’re not sure why we spent all this time on it. So, I think there’s examples like that. There’s a lot to figure out in the remote process that some things have worked and some things haven’t, so we’re always trying to figure out better ways to do things. Yeah, but I think that’s a good example, the documentary that we’re not sure if we’re going to sell it.
Scott: Yeah. But I also like the second part of that, which is you’re still iterating.
David: Yeah.
Scott: Because before we turned on the mics I was telling you, that really is the sum of Kruze Consulting.
David: Yeah.
Scott: It’s like all these… Vanessa’s been doing this for 10 years, I joined seven years ago, and we’ve got 150 people now, and people are constantly coming up with these little things that make it either more accurate or the process stronger or whatever. You’re in a very similar, scalable business, and everyone benefit… We have a saying, Kaizen, it’s continuous improvement.
David: Okay. Oh, nice.
Scott: And you’re so similar to us, that’s why I think I connect with what you’re doing so much is like, “Oh man, everyone benefits from that really smart suggestion that someone at the company makes,” and it go goes across all those videos.
David: Yeah, exactly. And actually, when I was first reaching out to y’all and getting to know your company, I looked, and honestly still look, at some of your processes. I think we talked about this. Some of your processes were like… Because they are eerily similar businesses in some ways. It’s kind of a service, it’s also like a product innovation, and there’s a lot of things, and I can see the same mentality where it’s like, “How can we find that little tiny thing in our process that makes it better across the board?” Which just improves customer experience, it improves employees’ experience. So yeah, it’s very interesting. I mean, it’s still interesting.
Scott: Another reason to do the customer testimonials is, oftentimes the customers, they’ll tell you in the middle of a testimonial what made their life easier. You don’t even know, they just like, “By the way, that time that you captured my favorite customer on video meant the world to me,” or, “You were there for diligence,” whatever it is, that’s the reason to do that stuff.
David: 100%.
Scott: And you just don’t know what hidden gems are out there and how your customers think about you.
David: 100%. There was a client who, they called me after watching a video and said some of their employees were crying because they were so moved by one of the stories, which was really shocking to me. But I think an example of, like what you’re saying, where companies make a difference, they actually make a difference. Businesses is really important. And so, when you tell these stories, there’s an opportunity to tell a really important story, like you’re saying. And oftentimes it’s kind of ironic in a way, but sometimes the company themselves are not in a great position to tell their stories because they are beholden to their clients in a certain professional setting or there’s just lines that won’t be crossed or pushed; whereas when you bring an outside documentarian, it’s like, “Hey, I’m fresh, just tell me everything. Tell me everything about this client.”
Scott: I love that. And the editor in the brain going through it, and you also have the benefit of all these things that have worked before. You got a cool thing here, I’m really excited about Elemmir.
David: Cool. Yeah, I appreciate it,
Scott: David, this is awesome, I love it. Tell everyone where to find Elemmir, how to reach out if they want to work with you, and what the next steps are.
David: Yeah, yeah. So obviously you can find us on our website at www.elemmir.com. Reach out to me, I’m always down to talk about videos. We’re also very excited, we’re going to offer Kruze portfolio companies 15% off for the first 12 months of all our videos, and so I think it’s a pretty compelling way to get a lot of videos.
Scott: Thank you so much. On behalf of the Kruze client base, really appreciate it. And this will go out in our newsletter and everything, so everyone will see it. So, if you are interested in working with Elemmir… And again, we covered the remote aspect, how easy it is, even just doing like a $1,000 video just to tell your story a little bit, just as a baby step. Check Elemmir out, and you can feel you’ll get the discount 15% if you drop the Kruze name. Thanks, David, really appreciate you coming on the podcast.
David: Yeah, yeah. Thank you. It’s been a good time.
Scott: Awesome. Thanks.
David: Bye.
Singer: (Singing).

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