Disruptive online production platform a creative game-changer
Video production business Genero is breaking down agency barriers to give small creatives the chance to pitch big ideas to global clients.
When pop music phenomenon Duran Duran described a music video produced by “an outback kid” from rural Victoria as one of the best they’d seen, Andrew Lane and Mick Entwisle knew, with absolute conviction, that their revolutionary video production marketplace, Genero, was the disruptive technology they had worked so hard to create.
It was 2011. Genero was in its infancy, Duran Duran one of its first big-name global clients, and a talented kid from the bush named Andrew Pearce – who, without Genero, would never previously have had a hope of pitching for such a brief – got the gig and launched his own filmmaking career. For the Genero founders, it caught them a wave of success they’ve been riding ever since. Today, Genero represents some of the biggest brands (and bands) in the world.
Genero is an online platform that provides a global interface between clients and ‘creatives’. It smashes the previously impregnable big agency/big production-house fortresses that for decades dominated the film and video production industry, dictating who did and didn’t get work.
Genero (Latin for ‘to create’) has its genesis in the Monash Business School, where Lane and Entwisle met while undertaking business and marketing degrees in the mid-1990s. The practical nature of the courses led to the pair working on assignments together, leading to a friendship that would later be the foundation for their shared business venture. But before this transpired, they accumulated vital commercial experience in corporate marketing roles – Lane at Vodafone, Entwisle at Hewlett Packard.
'Smartphones, screen resolution, data speeds, camera specs and social networking were all democratising video production, and that was the opportunity we saw.'
It was in these roles, on the client side of the fence, that Lane says they could see the need for change. These insights were honed by the combined influences of their Monash degrees and their initial careers: “We had studied at what was acknowledged as one of the best marketing schools in the world, which had led to great roles and experience with major companies,” he says.
What they were both seeing in these roles was the marketing landscape shifting towards digital mediums and video becoming the highest-performing format.
“This was increasing the demand for high-quality, creative content at the same time as there was a disconnect opening up between the established agency model and the rising numbers of highly creative people out there producing great videos,” Lane recalls.
“Smartphones, screen resolution, data speeds, camera specs and social networking were all democratising video production, and that was the opportunity we saw,” Lane says.
“To that point, it could cost a million dollars to make an ad through a big agency, and the client would want to use that content for a year or more to get a pay-off.
“But audience engagement in the digital era was changing. You needed to be engaging almost on a daily basis, meaning you needed a steady supply of great and fresh content for a range of channels, mediums and formats. And technology was also making this possible for much lower costs.”
Lane and Entwisle, who had remained close friends, saw this unfolding and shared the idea for developing a digital platform on which clients could upload a brief, and creators big and small could pitch their concepts.
And the pair weren’t just embracing the changing technical landscape, but societal changes, too.
“Employment, especially in this industry, was also changing. The digital revolution was producing thousands of freelancers responsible for their own incomes. Our production marketplace would facilitate their circumstances as well … offering the chance to freelance and still work with the biggest brands and artists in the world.”
Lane and Entwisle decided to take the plunge, working nights and weekends to build the business and platform for launch in late 2009.
And then, in Lane’s words, “we hit the road” – travelling to the US and UK to market their concept face-to-face. Their approach was based on two upfront decisions: “One, to create a global business connecting creative people, production companies, filmmakers, editors and so on with clients anywhere in the world. Two, it had to have, from day one, the highest level of leading-edge creativity, and the way to achieve this was to start with the music industry.”
'We’re bringing opportunity to people who deserve it; [people] who are highly creative, skilled and passionate.'
They also successfully applied for two Australian government business grants via Commercialisation Australia, which gave them a significant boost and momentum.
The strategy paid off almost immediately, with music industry figures quickly recognising the potential – they could post a brief, go to bed and in the morning wake to ideas coming in from all over the world. The fact Lane and Entwisle were Australian also helped. Australians, they found, had a reputation for innovation – making people curious about what they were doing.
“We got some early traction with the musician Moby, then the big studios Sony, Warner and Universal. This allowed us to simultaneously build a global creative community. And that’s what’s exciting about the business.
Like the Andrew Pearce example, we’re bringing opportunity to people who deserve it; [people] who are highly creative, skilled and passionate, but who, in the past, wouldn’t have got the work if they didn’t have the right contacts,” says Lane. “Now, the best work and ideas can shine through.”