A Talk with Joel Holland, Footage Firm’s CEO

April 4, 2011

Last week I received an email from Footage Firm, a stock footage company created by Joel Holland in 2001 when he was only 15 or so.  Looking towards the bottom of the page, I was delighted to discover that the company is located just two doors down from mine.  So today, our first Washington DC metro 85 degree spring day, I decided to take a little walk.  Not knowing who Joel even was before my impromptu visit, I didn’t know what to expect.  (I was mainly just stopping by to introduce myself, comment on their nice product line, and check out the joint!)  My first thought was that I was about to meet the traditional 60 year-old owner of a successful video company.  Boy, was I surprised…but gladly so as I told him.  Entrepreneur, Journalist, Speaker, and TV Host I discovered since our meeting.  His company, made up of (a mere) three others on his staff, was advertizing a new FREE set of After Effects Templates…a new product line.  Joel told me that his fan base told him to do so.  Footage Firm simply asked the question right on their homepage…”What do you want us to create for you.”  Already successful in a vast quantity of SD and HD footage bundles, and their semi-newly popular music and audio files, the new After Effects bundles (ten in all) was a new venture released on March 30, 2011 that Joel knew little about.  But the masses don’t lie, especially when asked directly.

Footage Firm, Giving Away After Effects Templates

But free you ask?  How is that possible?  When I asked Joel, he applied a simple and basic entrepreneurial law of attraction:  make a high quality product and make it cheap enough for everyone to purchase…including the basement video editors all the way up to the network TV channels.  Simply, build it and they will come.  And that’s exactly what I’ve done (as a basement and government video editor) and so has such channels as ABC, MTV, The Weather Channel, The History Channel, USA Network, Discovery, Nat Geo and the like (30,000 satisfied customers, his website states!).

So how did Footage Firm get its start?  According to Business Week, when Joel Holland was in high school, he advertised a short piece of video he’d shot as an amateur videographer on eBay to see if it’d sell. Someone bit. Holland has since turned his hobby into a $100,000 business that sells professional-grade footage of everything from U.S. landmarks to international locations to erupting volcanoes via a Web site or over the phone. But where competitors might charge $300 to $600 for 15 to 20 seconds of footage, Holland charges $149 for 30 to 60 minutes. His trick? He sells the reels in bulk form, and whatever shooting he can’t do himself, he contracts out to his cadre of professional videographers around the globe. Holland quotes BBC Worldwide numbers, stating that stock footage is estimated to be a $300 million market in 2006 and was poised to grow to $1 billion by this year. Even though he founded Footage Firm in 2001 and already counts Disney, ABC, CNN, Discovery, The History Channel, and E! among his clients, Holland started working with a consultant at Babson College, his Alma mater,  to develop a strategic plan to grow into a $500,000 company.

In 2006 Joel was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25” by BusinessWeek Magazine, and “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by the United States Small Business Administration.  When asked about the secret to his success, Holland simply states, “I’m ignorant. I don’t really mind shooting for the stars because I’m too ignorant of failure.  Ninety percent of success comes down to confidence; nine percent is drive, and one percent is intelligence.”  Joel is on top of his game, referring to his online statistics and feedback from his website customers a number of times during our ad-lib talk.  He listens to them; they know what they want.  He has great plans for his company by continuing his wildly popular After Effects templates, expanding the music library, and coming up with new HD video bundles.  This guy, and his company, are going places–

Joel Holland and Footage Firm, going places


Joel Holland, as an HD shooter on location for Footage Firm

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