Some of the best entrepreneurial endeavors start with a good idea and a business model that already works. Take Joel Holland for example. He is the founder of Video Blocks, the leading online stock footage vendor that is currently projecting this year’s revenue somewhere between $12-$15 million — that’s double its revenue from last year.
Holland grew up in the suburbs of Washington D.C. and started shooting video clips of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and other landmarks in the area while still in high school. He would burn the videos onto DVDs and sell them on eBay to wedding video producers who needed background shots for their films.
"I shot the sights and scenes that any editor worldwide would want to pop into a video about Washington," Holland recalls.
Once Holland graduated high school back in 2003, he deferred his admission to Babson College for a year in order to give his video business a real shot. He began to travel the U.S. and shoot footage of cities all over America. He would edit the clips at night and then put them up for sale on eBay. Each trip’s profit paid for the next trip.
Holland has come a long way since then and now owns a multimillion dollar company that he himself started. Video Blocks hires freelancers to do the shooting and editing while he himself focuses on the entrepreneurial aspects of the business. The company also purchases nonexclusive rights to existing video content and even has a studio where original material is shot.
Unlike most stock companies that charge per download, Video Blocks allows its customers to download unlimited clips and digital effects for a monthly subscription of only $79.
"Everybody else is trying to sell by the drink," says Carter Griffin of Updata Partners, a Washington, D.C. based venture capital firm that decided to invest $10 million in Video Blocks. Joel has a different and better business model."
Holland basically took Netflix’s business model and adjusted it to cater to his own customers who currently download about 25,000 clips/day, 9.4 million clips since 2011. Its customer base includes churches, schools and amateur video enthusiasts.
"Real companies take a long time to grow. I stumble on lots of fly-by-night companies with cool ideas that they bang out in 60 days. Joel is a great example of what hard work really means." says Elliott Bisnow, founder of the Summit Series, an organization that hosts invitation-only networking events for artists and young entrepreneurs.
As the company grows, the founder adjusts his tactics to better suit his ever-growing client base.
"My concept used to be that to make more money, I needed more product," says Holland. "That’s not a total fallacy, but it’s not a linear relationship. The key is figuring out what footage people really want, and using that knowledge to sell fewer clips more times."
Photo courtesy The Company