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Founder Stories: Chris Savage of Wistia

Meet Chris
Meet Chris

8 years ago when online video was in its infancy, and Flash was the only the game in town, Chris Savage co-founded Wistia, a business-oriented video hosting and analytics service. Today Wistia is growing by leaps and bounds and Chris was kind enough to share his founder story with Demo Duck, along with some advice for companies just starting to explore the world of online video. So let’s dive in!

Who is Chris Savage?

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Wistia. I work and play predominately in Cambridge, MA but I may be on a mountain, near an ocean, or perhaps on a RipStik at this very moment.

I grew up in Rhode Island and went to Brown University where I majored in film. A year after school I started Wistia with my good friend Brendan Schwartz.

What is Wistia?

Wistia is a company based in Cambridge, MA. We provide video hosting and analytics for marketers and business who want to better control and understand how their videos are performing. We also make a bunch of videos and really like to shuffle our office around.

How did the idea for Wistia come about?

Back in 2006, we were watching how rapidly the experience of online video was changing. It was the early days of Flash video on the web and the doors were being broken open by open source tools that let anyone encode video to Flash.

We thought that meant that there would be more online video applications. Our initial idea was to create a filmmaking competition site, that didn’t work but the video revolution began and we were lucky enough to be along for the ride.

Any scary, exciting, or funny early day startup stories that come to mind?

About a year after quitting our jobs we started to get close to the idea of what Wistia is today. We were about a month into this new direction and we had a big sales call with HBO. We were in way over our heads and we were terrified and excited.

We were going to pitch HBO on a giant, giant deal. It was a deal that would make the company profitable,  allow us to pay ourselves, hire other people, get an office, the whole shebang. We would become a “real” company.

Well, you can imagine what two terrified young lads would do in an a situation like this. Even though it was 11am we had to break out the whisky to calm our nerves. We didn’t get the deal but thankfully we got the story. And bonus, that was the first and last time I drink whisky at 11am.

How did you go about building the team and creating the culture you have today?

We’ve built our team and culture very slowly. We’ve haven’t always gotten it right but overtime we’ve built conviction that culture can scale if it is nurtured properly.

We work very hard to make sure we’re hiring people who have similar values to the ones we share internally. It’s much easier to find people who share your values than try to teach them a new way of working.

As a daily part of the work we rely on our core values to help us make decisions in a more Wistia way. I know that we’ll always have to focus on making our culture stronger and that’s part of the fun!

When you sit back at the end of the day, what are you most proud of at Wistia?

I’m most proud that we’ve been able to find amazing people who want to be a part of what we’re doing. Every day I’m surprised and delighted by the work of people on the team. It boggles my mind that there can be so many great people committed towards the same thing.

I’m also extremely proud of the amazing community of people helping us grow, pushing us to be better, and inspiring us.

Wistia Demo Duck Interview

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to start a new company?

Find a set of problems you can be passionate about for a long time. Most people give up because the problems they are going after get boring or the opportunities to solve them are too short term.

Find something that can inspire you for a long time.

What advice do you have for companies just starting to explore the world of online video?

Just like email marketing the key to being successful with video marketing is to figure out how to use it consistently and effectively as a holistic part of your marketing.

Be very clear about what you want the goal for each video to be. If you have too many goals for one video, that’s probably a good sign that you should be making more individually focused videos instead of one video with scattershot goals.

How does Wistia use video today and how has it affected your business?

Video is at the core our marketing strategy. We make a ton of videos to teach people how to think about and make better videos in our learning center. We also incorporate video into our documentation and product to help scale the sales and support process.

Video has helped us scale ourselves, better connect with our audience, and ultimately made us better storytellers and marketers.

What are you most excited about with Wistia and its future?

I’m most excited that we’re at the beginning of a big revolution in video. Video is barely being used to it’s full potential but it’s starting to be adopted more and more.

More Duck Tales to come!

We intend to continue sharing founder stories with you in the coming weeks and months, so if this is something you enjoyed, please let us know! Also, if you or someone you know is a company founder and has an interesting story to tell, we’d love to connect.

Written by Andrew Follett
Andrew is the Founder of Demo Duck, a video production agency. He lives in Chicago, loves startups, and enjoys traveling. You can follow him on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.