From Filmmaker to Entrepreneur: How Frame.io Was Spurred Through Lived Experience
Emery Wells

Many startup ideas are originally spawned by the lived experiences of their founders. However, beyond this initial surge of inspiration, a lot of companies don’t continue to perpetuate the values garnered from their “former” lives.

Frame.io, however thrives on this past expertise. A video collaboration tool, Frame.io has grown to be a widely used platform with a lot of success that can be attributed to the experiences of it’s founders. Emery Wells, Frame.io’s CEO and Co-founder explains how his beginnings as an artist and filmmaker continue to influence the brand as a whole.

Just like the way many startups begin, Frame.io was inspired by your lived experiences. Beyond just spurring the original idea for the company, how have these experiences shaped the Frame.io brand as it continues to grow into a widely recognized company?

First and foremost we heavily rely on our past experience creating high-end video content. Most of our brand story and identity is told through video. More than anything, it's allowed us to speak with a very authentic voice. Many years of living in the trenches can't be faked and our customers recognize that.

With beginnings as an artist and filmmaker, what growing pains came with becoming a thriving entrepreneur and businessman?

You have to learn a lot. Running a creative agency, or in my case, a post production company, is very different from running a SaaS tech startup. Fortunately, the startup world has a really developed ecosystem. Our investors are immensely helpful and I find myself suddenly surrounded by incredibly smart people who are willing to lend a helping hand. In many cases, first time entrepreneurs were astute observers of the tech world prior to being in the driver seat. In my case, I devoured every bit of information I could about building tech companies many years before I ever had the opportunity to execute. Everything from fundraising to growth hacking. Understanding the ins and outs of key performance metrics. Mundane topics like the importance of on-boarding new employees. Pricing mechanics and the associated psychology. All the relevant tech that would be necessary to build our product. The list goes on.

Are Frame.io users relatively niche, and if not what marketing efforts do you utilize to deter the casual consumer from things such as Dropbox, Vimeo etc?

The value prop of Frame.io is that we make things infinity better than the Dropbox, Vimeo, email combo of services. It's built precisely to replace those services (at least for video collaboration). People who make video tend to immediately recognize that value. We don't do anything specifically to deter users from those solutions and they very much still have their place. As a company, we rely on Dropbox and Vimeo but neither of those are very good at video collaboration.

What benefits come from being an artist first in terms of producing content and advertisements for Frame.io?

We can produce high quality video content at a fraction of the cost. Good video is still expensive. I think a lot of people are still shocked to discover just how expensive it can be.

What drove you to ultimately decide to take the leap in forming this new startup and what would you say to budding entrepreneurs reluctant to do the same?

There was never a leap in the sense that we were unsure if we were building something people needed. Living in the trenches for 10 years as a "full stack" video creator, I was confident in our product. The leap came from shutting down my previous business which was a boutique post-production company. It was built from nothing over 8 years and generated a million dollars a year. At that time we were doing all the digital shorts for Saturday Night Live, major national campaigns for big box retailers, and Super Bowl commercials. I had built a phenomenal lifestyle business for myself, but it was intrinsically tied to me. It was never meant to live on without me and so I had to shut it down if I was serious about focusing on Frame.io. That was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. Entrepreneurs are not risk averse people. If you are not willing to take the leap then you may not qualify to join the entrepreneur club. That doesn't mean throw caution to the wind. I had built up enough confidence that Frame.io could be infinitely more successful and my co-founder and I had the skills to execute.

How do you expect Frame.io to expand in the near future?

Physically we're doubling the number of employees from 20 to 40. We have a super dense product roadmap that will keep us busy for many years to come. Broadly, Frame.io is focused on solving challenges for the creative community and we've only just scratched the surface.