Lennard Kooy of Storyteq tells us how they are helping businesses to scale their video and banner production.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Lennard Kooy: Pretty well. Everyone is healthy. My wife is actually due in 4 weeks, so I guess that will be a bit of a change of scenery at that point.
At Storyteq, everyone is doing well, although we see that the need to see each other in person is rapidly growing. In the Netherlands, this is luckily still somewhat possible.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Storyteq.
Lennard Kooy: I started out as a Product Manager for an e-commerce company and had a couple of jobs in that field, after which I moved into a venture development type of role.
After doing that for a while, I came across Storyteq. At that point, they had a grand idea but a very small team. But I believed in them both. So I joined the company as an angel investor/CEO to try and take it to the next level.
How does Storyteq innovate?
Lennard Kooy: We created a platform that allows customers to template creative assets like videos, images, and HTML5 banners. This allows our customers to massively reduce the amount of repetitive work that comes with creative production in larger companies. Think about translations of assets, automatically generating different aspect ratios, inserting different products into your creatives, etc.
Templating is pretty standard for documents such as PPT and static visuals (collaterals, etc.). However, it’s harder to do with moving visuals. 9 times out of 10, this repetitive work is still done manually.
Ultimately, we help creative teams save a ton of time that they can use to be creative again.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Lennard Kooy: In April-July 2020, we saw a bit of panic in the market. Nobody was doing anything. All the new deals were on hold, and some existing companies even paused their payments.
From August onward, everything slowly came back to life, and in the months after that, we actually saw an acceleration in our business.
Companies started to focus (even more) on digitalization, which led to the need for more digital assets. In addition, companies looked even harder for cost-effective ways to produce these digital assets. Both of these factors are drivers for our business and thus financial performance.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Lennard Kooy: The impact was fairly minimal. As mentioned, our business went back to ‘normal’ quite fast. In addition, we had excellent (financial) support from the Dutch government, which mediated a part of the loss for April-July and also gave out loans to start-ups to ‘bridge’ the pandemic.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Lennard Kooy: In our case, this has more to do with the growth we’re going through as a company than with the pandemic. We were already very digitally focused; we rarely had physical meetings with our clients. But during the past months, we invested in professionalizing our customer success department, also introducing a customer success platform to help us do that.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Lennard Kooy: Yes, we did. The Dutch government was very quick to address the problems companies were having in the initial phase of the pandemic – and keeps addressing them up to this point.
In addition to some loan reimbursement that we used for the first couple of months, we also got a loan specifically meant for start-ups, which allowed us to keep growing during that time as well.
I was really impressed by the turn-around times of these grants. Nothing but compliments for the Dutch government regarding this.
Your final thoughts?
Lennard Kooy: If I look at my network, I don’t think I know any start-up founder that really had many negative consequences of the pandemic – at least, not business-wise.
If anything, in the Netherlands, I think most start-ups that were doing well before the pandemic only saw an acceleration after the dust settled. Obviously, if you look outside the software start-up ecosystem, there are some sectors that have it a lot harder. Let’s hope that those business owners can go back to ‘normal’ soon.
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