Amanda Homsi: “We have entered a digital world where almost everything is explained using videos”
Iksplein is a video creation and production company that specializes in animated tutorials for the financial sector and for startups launching crowdfunding campaigns. We met its founder and creative director, Amanda Homsi, at TechPitch 4.5 last month and asked her to sit down with us to get her unique view on the UK’s startup ecosystem, as well as hear about her creative process for helping companies tell their stories.
-Amanda, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your professional story?
My background is in TV production and documentaries. I have worked for various production houses here in London, including my own production house “Black Unicorn Productions”. After having a family, I decided to take a break from TV production because of the amount of travelling it involved, and I fell into the world of corporate and finance production.
-Tell us a bit about Iksplein – what it is, when you started it and how it has evolved and grown?
I founded Iksplein over a year ago. We create animated tutorials for the financial sector, such as banks, hedge funds and insurers. They are still the main focus of the business as not only there is a big gap in the market, but we are also well connected in the financial industry and have a few financial consultants who work with us and keep us very much ahead of the game.
We also create animated explainer videos, which more and more companies need. They’re quickly becoming almost every company’s must-have, both because of how efficient they can be and because we now have the right digital platforms to share them.
Lately I have been making crowdfunding videos, and I love it. It has become an excellent tool to tell your story and explain your business and your goals in less than five minutes. I personally cannot see how there could be a crowdfunding campaign without a video – that’s how important I think they are.
-What inspired the idea for Iksplein? Was there a particular market gap you spotted?
I came up with “Iksplein” (phonetic spelling of “explain”) when my husband – who worked in finance at the time – came home with what I thought were very complicated documents explaining financial products. One day I looked at one of those documents and thought, “I can summarize these 20 pages into a five minute video with a voice over artist and animation, and it would be much easier and more efficient to convey”. I tried to look for these services online and found less than five. That’s when I realized that there was a big gap in the market. We have entered a digital world where almost everything is explained using videos and finance must keep up!
-What is your process for creating a crowdfunding video? What do you need from the start-ups you’re working with so that you can best create a visual around their ambition? How do marry the creative process with telling a business story?
My process is quite simple. I follow the “simplicity is key” rule. A video is the chance for investors to get to know the clients, their background, how they came up with the business idea, why it is such a great idea and what their goals are for the future. A crowdfunding video should not be too long, and you need to keep the attention of the viewer for at least the first few minutes. You would be surprised how many people lose interest after just five seconds of watching a bad crowdfunding video.
I start by sending my clients a form with a list of key questions that they need to fill out. From their answers and by speaking to them, I am able to mentally prepare a feel for the video and how it will get filmed.
My style is usually beautifully shot interviews combined with a bit of animation, if needed.
Apart from providing me with relevant material – such as logos, etc – my clients really don’t need to do anything else as I try to make it as easy for them as possible. The only thing I will need from them, which I cannot really fix in the edit, is passion! A passionate speaker is always a plus in a crowdfunding video.
On shoots we make them relaxed, crack a few jokes and keep it fun. The fun starts in the edit, choosing the right background music, choosing the best way to tell their stories, and turning one and half hour of footage into less than five minutes.
Depending on the locations and the type of shoots, it usually takes two hours to half a day to film and around five working days to deliver. Also, because of my background and the fact that I can edit, direct, animate and shoot, it means that I generally have no overheads, which keeps my costs reasonable for clients.
-What kind of feedback have you received on some of your videos?
So far my clients have been very positive with my work and the style of videos I create. They use the videos everywhere they can as it really summarizes everything they do. All it takes for them is to send one link.
-You have a unique view in the start-up scene here. What have been your impressions of the start-up ecosystem and its effectiveness in launching viable businesses in the UK?
I am seeing a huge surge in start-ups from both my personal and professional network. Every time I work with a client on a video I get to know them, their journey and their passion; they are really inspiring.
I like your use of the word “ecosystem”, as it is exactly that. Most start-ups would not be where they are without the help of accelerators, government schemes, crowdfunding platforms and pitching platforms. The same goes for crowdfunding platforms and the rest; they would not exist without great start-ups.
-We met you at TechPitch 4.5 earlier this month. What was your impression of the both the pitches and judging, and the networking portion that followed?
The TechPitch 4.5 that I attended had a great turnout and also felt friendly and warm. The organizers were very welcoming and they have organized it in a way where they made it easier for people to meet and network. There was a good line up of pitching companies and they were all very interesting. I loved the fact that I learned so much about their business in just three minutes, which was the maximum length of the pitches that evening. I already downloaded the app of one of the companies pitching, as I thought it was brilliant.
The panelists were great and had constructive feedback without being too harsh. Overall it was a fantastic evening and I got to meet and connect with quite a few people and learned about lots of new companies. I wish them all the best of luck, and if they ever need a video they know who to call!
Amanda Homsi is the founder and creative director of Iksplein.
TechPitch 4.5 PLAY – in collaboration with Hasbro – will take place on 22 Novmeber 2016 in London. We are still accepting applications to pitch, so don’t miss this chance to present your startup to Hasbro. Apply here.