First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Zowik Abramov: Thank you for asking. COVID-19 has hit the Netherlands quite hard. Thankfully my family and friends are healthy. A client and one of my colleagues did get COVID-19 but recovered without any further problems until now.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Lensguild.
Zowik Abramov: I’ve been working as a DOP (Director of Photography) myself for over a decade. All the way back in 2013, together with a co-founder, we decided to start a collective of freelance filmmakers and photographers. The collective seemed to grow organically, and once we reached the point till we could not handle the sales part anymore, we went back to the drawing board. What if we could use data, filters, and AI to match freelance filmmakers and photographers to potential clients? This decision made us build a platform rather than a collective. So in 2018, we started building Lensguild in an advanced MVP form, which gave us technical challenges since we build it from scratch. Looking back, I wish we started earlier, with a simpler MVP version of our platform.
How does Lensguild innovate?
Zowik Abramov: Data & Analytics are most crucial when running an online platform. We track all the important elements and funnels to find elements to improve. But just as important, we listen to our customers, and if we agree or hear something twice, we add it to our Kandan Board. We believe in the Lean Startup way of working, so we do a lot of experiments, testing out new ways of communicating, new designs, and if the data shows there’s more traction, we follow that learning.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Zowik Abramov: The coronavirus has impacted our market hardly; most filmmakers and photographers have seen a considerable drop in projects and income. Our platform launched just before the pandemic, so we’ve seen a great start, only to be dropped a few weeks later. This gave us the time to take a step back and improve our tech, even though there was a lot of traction of livestreaming and photography at a distance. We’ve currently decided to keep a low profile and return with an improved toolset once things go back to normal. We are coping fine right now, although losing money each month.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Zowik Abramov: It was really hard to decide to take a step back. But other than that, we just launched, so it actually gives us more space to improve before we hit product-market fit.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Zowik Abramov: As a founder, stress is inevitable. I believe stress is healthy to a certain level. However, there are boundaries to it. I believe this is different for each person. Personally, when things go red, I usually look forward to taking a vacation abroad. Away from the city to clear the head. To make sure I keep a full focus, Sunday is always my full day off without work.
Your final thoughts?
Zowik Abramov: Believe in yourself and take measurements to pivot where needed. Only together, we can overcome these weird times by staying safe and avoiding too much human contact. Stay safe, and let’s build a better future for all of us.
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