Starting a company is about building things people need. People have problems and they are willing to pay to have them solved. They also want to be part of the movements that solve their problems. Human beings want to join the tribe of people who understand problems the way they do.
In 1997, Steve Jobs believed in video way before anybody else and ended up building a tribe of people who cared about the problems Apple was solving. Fifteen years later, the 1997 advertisement still gives me chills, but we’re still naïve about how important video is to young and old companies.
Video is important because it can be better than hearing a message in person. Why? It’s tough to lay an epic soundtrack to a live speech in a locker-room, Carl Sagan didn’t come equipped with 1080p images of the universe when sitting across the table at Starbucks, and users consumers every-day people only care about the discounts behind banner ads.
Speaking to the human beings that use your product through video is genuine, real, and can be emotionally engaging when done right. If you have a real message to convey or if your company is founded on a belief that is fundamental to a problem people have, you can create a video to communicate that message.
Less than a week after I submitted my notice at Duet Health to focus on LaunchGram, I had this gut feeling that in order to reach the people we needed for LaunchGram to work, we couldn’t settle for anything less than engaging our user-base on a fundamental level.
On March 6th I reached out to a videographer named Michael Marantz Michael made a video called EARTH: The Pale Blue Dot that I had listened to and watched too many times to count. I went to him with the vision that LaunchGram wasn’t just about fun video games and exciting movies coming soon. I told him about how I believe the next decade of innovation is going to border on overwhelming and I wanted a way for people to learn about the next big thing(s) before they are released.
He and I clicked immediately on our shared belief in the value of storytelling. After some back and forth, I sent Michael a draft of a ‘manifesto’ I had been working on. I told him that we were pretty excited about the manifesto’s mission, as a credo for all those who believed in pushing humanity forward, not just our company. We both agreed that there are certain people and organizations that are really pushing the ball forward and wanted to showcase all of the great work they’re doing.
I happened to be in Williamsburg the next week and so did Michael. We met at The Meatball Shop and talked shop. The end result was that I left not understanding why I had never been to The Meatball Shop before and confident Michael and I were going to make something really excellent.
Long story short from there, we published the video yesterday. Michael and I sent it to our friends and begged them to share it. Luckily, a few of them did. Prior to having the good fortune of Ashton Kutcher tweeting about the video, its reach had been almost entirely viral on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. This is the value in crafting a good story; people want to share it.
I didn’t set out to write a manifesto to satisfy my ego. Its purpose was to connect with human beings, and make them believe the future holds greatness. After all, what is a website designed to help people get updates on future products if everybody is a pessimist about the future? The manifesto happened because it was needed; there was a message that people needed to hear.
The LaunchGram message is that there is some really amazing stuff coming in the future, but with Dollar Shave Club the message is that there is a better alternative to the big men’s razor companies. There was a problem, men knew it, Dollar Shave Club recognized it and owned it, but they owned it honestly.
Nobody believed Sketcher’s cares about delivering shoes to the impoverished when they launched BOBS as a TOMS ripoff. Yet when Casey Neistat made a video for Nike, a big shoe company we love to hate, it spoke to us.
Now, our video wasn’t perfect and there are things we could have done better for our brand, but it also was in no way a failure. It was by no means the Dollar Shave Club video or Casey’s ‘Make it Count’ video for Nike, but after 3.5 days we have over 185,000 views.
Did I also mention it was free?
*A post with more background on the writing of The LaunchGram Manifesto is coming soon!