Christopher Kelly is the Co-Founder and CEO of ProductionCrate LLC. They are multi-media providers for over 1 Million registered filmmakers and video producers worldwide, focusing on high-quality visual effects, motion graphics, sound effects, music, and more.
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Before we begin, our readers are interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to be where you are today or was it something you were led to? Share with us your journey.
Christopher Kelly: I spent a lot of time in college making videos with my roommates. This was 2007, only 2 years after Youtube was first launched. We would post videos of poorly choreographed fight scenes, super-hero short films, VFX tests, and spoof videos. The videos got a pretty good response. I was hooked. Two years later, I was building my special effects for our films, usually instead of going to class. I would build them on my home computer but needed a way to access them at school. I decided to make a website. There, I could store my assets and download them from anywhere. The YouTube community was pretty supportive of the work I’d been doing, so I shared the link with them. That way, anyone could download HD effects for free! I thought it would be a dozen or so visitors, but I guess I underestimated them. After a few weeks, I added some sidebar ads. They generated a little pocket change, and that’s when I first realized this could be a business.
Tell us a bit about your current focus. What is the most important thing that you’re working on and how do you plan on doing it?
Christopher Kelly: Our main focus is providing the tools most needed/wanted by artists and reaching out to them through the most effective means possible. We have largely succeeded in doing so through our YouTube Channel (over 13 Million Views) and our other social media platforms. Much of our userbase discover us through filmmaking tutorials, demonstrations, and viral short films.
We make what our users ask for, and they ask for the content we’d never think of. Our content is also based on missing results, another way our community speaks to us, though indirectly, and helps us build a robust library of assets. We have full-time artists who manage the content. They either create it themselves or work with specialists to build out the assets. Our developing team creates toolsets for our community, often stemming from one of our creatives needing a tool that does not yet exist. All profits from our subscriptions go directly back into funding our company and employees, eliminating the pressures that come with business partnerships and loans to maintain complete control of the company.
Some argue that punctuality is a strength. Others say punctuality is a weakness. How do you feel about it, please explain.
Christopher Kelly: In collaborative efforts like ProductionCrate and filmmaking in general, it’s often integral that sections of our team are working together efficiently and promptly, and punctuality makes that possible.
How important is having good timing in your line of work and in the industry that your organization operates in?
Christopher Kelly: Video Production is a largely collaborative industry with many moving parts that need to be working together at different times, and the fewer steps you can eliminate the more time can be dedicated to completing projects in a timely fashion. Having a library of ready-to-use, production-quality music, and visual effects takes much of the labor and pressure of waiting for specialists to finish providing the necessary assets.
Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, states “Timing is everything in life, and it’s particularly crucial in entrepreneurship. People often equate success with luck, but it usually comes down to impeccable (and carefully mapped out) timing”. Do you agree with this statement? Please answer in as much detail as necessary.
Christopher Kelly: Timing is important, but the only way to take advantage of that timing is preparation. If our team wasn’t already made of seasoned artists/creatives then we would not have been able to take advantage of the growing demand for easy-to-use filmmaking content online.
As a leader/entrepreneur/CEO, how do you decide when to put the pedal to the metal and when to take a break? How do you time the key moments in your career?
Christopher Kelly: If I’m clear-headed and in a positive state of mind I make the best decisions. I hate the stigma that successful entrepreneurs have to toil endlessly to keep their company afloat. Taking vacations, giving myself days off, and making sure to have tons of hobbies allows me to do just that.
Branson also states “If you’re starting to feel like you’re just going through the motions and losing sight of why you started, it might be time to take a break”. But how do you decide when to take a break?
Christopher Kelly: It’s hard to grow when things begin to feel repetitive, so I’m always reading into new technologies and picking up new hobbies. Often those give me new ideas and directions to try and helps with day-to-day repetition.
“Timing can be everything when starting up. It can be the difference between building a thriving business and not” How has good timing helped you achieve success in your career or business? Are there any particular examples from your career that you would like to share?
Christopher Kelly: Jumping in on the growing trend of online video creation in its early stages contributed to ProductionCrate’s long-term success. The current landscape of services similar to ours is very competitive, but thankfully our seniority and experience set us apart from other media providers.
“When you’re thinking of starting up, ask yourself: ‘Is the community I want to serve ready for this idea?’ It could make all the difference!” Would you like to add anything to this piece of advice for all the aspiring entrepreneurs?
Christopher Kelly: The most common mistake I see first-time entrepreneurs making is being unwilling to pivot. Gathering information, testing, getting feedback, and then making your decisions (and then doing it all over again) is the best way to grow. Your initial idea is going to need a lot of revisions before it gets anywhere, being stubborn will stunt it.
COVID forced many businesses to adapt fast, some did so successfully, others failed, it was a lot due to good or poor timing. What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned during the pandemic?
Christopher Kelly: We saw a 20% increase in business during the pandemic, largely due to newfound time/opportunities for enthusiasts and a need from businesses owners to maintain interest through digital marketing. Our team was still able to effectively work from home until we were all properly quarantined and vaccinated. It highlighted the necessity of what our content can provide to others, as well as adaptable operation models for the company.
Your insight has been incredibly valuable and our readers thank you for your generosity. We do have a couple of other bold questions to ask. What fictional world would you want to start a business in and what would you sell?
Christopher Kelly: It would be fun to develop, test, and sell potions in any kind of fantasy setting (WoW, Harry Potter, etc.)
Before we finish things off, we would love to know, when you have some time away from business, what is one hobby that you wish you could spend more time on?
Christopher Kelly: Traveling and surfing mostly!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Christopher Kelly for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Christopher Kelly or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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