Happy Birthday, Hippo!
Three already?! It seems like just yesterday our little hippo was waddling around in diapers and spitting up on everything. But look at her now. She’s potty trained and speaking in full sentences. We’ve come so far…
We just hit our three-year anniversary in early October, so we thought this seemed like a good time to reflect on how the hell we got here.
So without further ado, we present,
Hippo Reflections: Year 3
1. Make friends. Lots of them.
When we opened our doors in Oct. 2013, we were new in town, and no one knew we existed. Year one was tough. But we took the “let’s make friends and the work will come” approach and that philosophy has served us well. The video production and motion design community in Denver is awesome, and they made us feel included right from the get-go. We made it a point to hit up industry events – Sauce Society, Kegs with Legs, etc. – and introduced ourselves to as many people as possible, following up with lunch dates. As a result, many of those new friends either hired us or referred us to some of our current clients. In return, we try to do the same for them. That’s some good old fashioned Lion King shit. The circle of life, my friends.
2. Take someone to lunch.
A huge thank you to Mike Gellman of Spire Media for this gem. It’s probably the best marketing advice we received in our infancy, and it helped facilitate our “making friends” goal. Everyone needs to eat, and an informal, no-agenda lunch is the perfect setting to get to know new people. Over 50% of the time these dates resulted in jobs or referrals; 100% of the time they resulted in full bellies and high fives.
3. Two heads are better than one.
Partnerships aren’t right for everyone, but for us, it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve made. We’ve learned so much from each other and have genuinely built a stronger and more diverse business because we’re a team. Initially, we decided to partner because our skill sets were complimentary. But we eventually learned that what really makes us a great fit is our mutual trust and respect for one another, our constant communication, and our shared work and life goals. Hint: We both agree life’s too short to spend all of your time working. Go outside. Pet a dog. Watch the sunset. Hug a random stranger (or not…hippo assumes no responsibility for any legal issues arising from that last piece of advice).
When we started hippo, we originally thought we’d operate like a mini agency. Need branding, graphic design, website, video, and/or animation?! Hippo to the rescue! We can do it all! However, we quickly realized “doing it all” meant less collaboration and a weaker final product. The video production and motion design projects were the projects we enjoyed the most because we were working together on all phases. And when we were both involved, the final product was always stronger. (Plus, illustration and animation are way more fun than battling with IE6. Blah.) Since our clients keep coming back to us for motion design and animation, we’ve focused even more and do less video production than we initially thought we would. We trimmed the fat and became a sleek, specialized hippo.
5. Stay Humble. Keep Learning.
When we look back at some of our first projects, it’s hard not to cringe. It’s pretty amazing to see how far we’ve come. Throughout 2016, our skill-sets have grown dramatically, and we’re really finding our groove. With all of that said, we still have much to learn. After Effects and Cinema 4D are complicated programs, and we’ve only just scratched the surface. But that’s what keeps us excited and motivated. There’s always something new to learn, some new technique to discover, and something cool to design or create. A big thank you to Matt Jylkka at MtMograph, Fraser Davidson’s Skillshare classes, Digital Tutors and all of the teachers and students at the School of Motion for sharing your knowledge and helping us grow.
6. Say please and thank you.
Our mommas always said that you should mind your manners. We agree. In fact, we could all stand to be a little more respectful and kind toward one another. So from the start, we’ve treated people the way we want to be treated, letting them know we are grateful for their time and support. We wouldn’t be here without the encouragement and guidance of our friends and family, colleagues and clients, so we always want them to feel the love. Thank you, thank you, thank you.