Daniel Sand, co-founder, and CEO at Wedio tells us about film equipment hire.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Daniel Sand: Short version: We are doing well!
The longer version: I have been lucky enough that no one close to me has been hit by COVID, so the stress of being in a pandemic has been easier to get through.
On a completely personal note, I got married during the summer, and having the first 6 months of our marriage happen during a global lockdown, has allowed us to enjoy our time together without the added pressure of a constant stream of social events. However, we would also like to have a real honeymoon at some point 😀
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Wedio.
Daniel Sand: I used to work as a filmmaker & digital marketeer. As a filmmaker, I experienced the pain of having to say no to projects because I lacked the right gear, firsthand. 4K films were the new big thing back then, and a 4K camera was not in my budget as an upcoming filmmaker.
I have always been drawn to the concept of stories, so it was never a doubt for me that I wanted to be involved in the productions of stories in some way. There are many ways of being involved in the productions, and I also flirted with the idea of creating a production company. What led me to form Wedio instead was the possibility of affecting more stories.
As a production company, I would be involved in the stories we were working on, but with Wedio I had the opportunity to have an impact on millions of stories being told by millions of people. If we can help make a lot of stories just a little bit better than they would have been, I will consider my life goal achieved. I founded Wedio with two friends. I handle the marketing and CEO side of the business. Morten handles sales, numbers, and business relations, and Kasper primarily handles the technical aspect of our platform. So, we have the most important parts of a startup covered by different people.
What makes our partnership and relationships special is the open culture we are cultivating in our company. It is always okay to say when something is difficult. Be it at work or home, we know the importance of talking things through, and this has been especially helpful during the pandemic. Always making sure to talk about our thoughts, doubts, and aspirations keeps us aligned and quell issues before they grow to become problems.
How does Wedio innovate?
Daniel Sand: Currently, we are revitalizing an outdated rental market, where the prices were set by big rental businesses. So by allowing production houses to get a platform to rent their gear out, and democratizing the rental market in general, we make it up to 50% more affordable to access gear like cameras, drones & lenses — daily, weekly, and monthly.
But this is just the start for us. Our company mission is to Keep Great Stories Alive, and we believe in a future where no creator has to compromise on their storytelling. The first part of achieving this future is to create a world where access instead of ownership is the new norm for film gear.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Daniel Sand: The beginning of the pandemic was a frightening time for all. For us, it meant a huge increase in canceled/postponed productions, which in turn meant a decrease in gear rentals.
The initial shock was a hit to the morale, but we chose to see it as an opportunity instead of a potential defeat. The new reality meant that everyone was forced to find new ways to achieve things like conferences, team meetings, briefings, and even movie productions. This sparked a huge interest in camera equipment for YouTube, Live Streaming, and Webinar productions. Both short- and long-term.
Especially the long-term need was interesting for us, and our research into this demand led us to create and launch Wedio subscription— the first pro rent-to-own camera gear subscription.
As society has adapted to the new way of doing things, we have seen productions start again, but it is also clear that there is a lot more uncertainty as to what else will change, or how long it will take before things normalize.
A big part of this revolves around economic uncertainty, which traditionally gives a big boost for two-sided marketplaces. We saw it for Airbnb during the last financial crisis, and it is also becoming clear in our market.
Consumers of gear are looking more towards cheaper rental options when they need new gear, and owners of gear want extra income streams to finance their gear. This results in more supply AND more demand in our marketplace.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Daniel Sand: The first change we made was a quite common one. We had all employees work remotely, which was a huge change for us. The culture we have been building had physical attendance and interaction as a big cornerstone. The open culture we had cultivated utilized ad hoc talks, which feel unnatural when done digitally.
To achieve more coherence in the team and try to get back to the feeling of being one team working towards a common goal, we have had daily standups and a weekly long-form meeting where we talked about our work and aligned our team to the overall strategy. We combined this with online quizzes and Friday bars and encouraged our coworkers to have video calls instead of just writing to each other.
This will work for as long as it is needed, but we all look forward to being back at the office. We are all social creatures, and while it has been awesome to see that we could still build the company together while being apart, nothing beats the culture you can build by being close to each other.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Daniel Sand: A big part of our new Wedio Subscription model is partnering up with the different brands to deliver the gear needed. This involves a lot of meetings, just like our funding efforts and other partnerships.
Before COVID, and during, when it was possible, this could include flying from Denmark to Amsterdam for a 2-hour meeting and then flying back home. A huge waste of extra time and not environmentally friendly.
These meetings are not handled online, which means more meetings, and more time to build the business. This is especially useful for short introductory meetings and meetings between distant partners, and we expect to keep this model, even when we can travel again.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Daniel Sand: We got a COVID-Loan from the Danish growth fond Vækstfonden to keep us growing and scaling. When you are a scaleup, it is not an option for you to stop investing in growth, because you can be certain that competitors will try to outdistance you. We are very happy to live in Denmark where the Danish government tries to help our companies stay competitive compared to global players from other regions.
Your final thoughts?
Daniel Sand: Being a founder of a company during a pandemic is difficult. But as a founder, you must always look for hidden opportunities in all situations. You will always experience things that are out of your hands, and COVID is no exception.
We might not have gotten the idea for a subscription model if we had not been forced to think outside the box when our rental platform got hit, so in many ways, this could be considered a blessing in disguise.
Being human allows us to adapt to new realities, and our confidence and trust in our team have only been strengthened during this period. We charge into the next period of our journey with smiles on our faces and cannot wait to see what happens next for us. We believe we can overcome it all!
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