Ep. 112

The Power of Video and Entrepreneurship with Grant Shaddick, Tella CEO with Grant Shaddick, Co-Founder of Tella

Welcome to another episode of Founder Insights. Today, we’re thrilled to have Grant Shaddick, the Co-Founder and CEO of Tella, joining us. Tella is a video recording tool that makes it super easy to create high quality video, even if you’re not a video creator. We use Tella to make our YouTube videos at Interact and highly recommend it to people all the time!

In this episode, Grant shares the journey of Tella’s founding, its evolution, and the strategies that have driven its growth. From the importance of creativity in video content to the role of influencer marketing and SEO, Grant provides valuable insights for entrepreneurs and video creators alike. Stay tuned as we delve into the world of video content creation and entrepreneurship with Grant Shaddick.

Learn more: https://www.tella.tv/

Hi everybody. I am here today with Grant Shaddick, who is the co-founder and CEO at Tella. And we’re big fans of Tella. We use it for all of our own YouTube videos. We’ve recommended it a lot without an affiliate. Code or anything like that. So we actually just genuinely recommend this product to people.

It’s a product for recording videos, and it has a bunch of the stuff that you would think about, but not necessarily before you start recording that you really need. Like, if you’re recording a screen, you can do really easily cut the split screen and do yourself next to the screen that you’re recording.

It’s really easy to do quick edits and cut things together. So. I’m excited to chat today, specifically a lot about product because it’s always appealing to me when there’s a product that just seems to naturally know what to do before you start using it. And I think that’s very impressive. So thanks for being on grant.

This is our second episode of the founder insights podcast. So I appreciate you being here today. Yeah, cool. Thanks, Josh. It’s great to be here. And I’m keen to keen to get into the chat. Yeah, for sure. So Talk me through we did a little bit of background before we hit record, but just talk me through kind of how you Started the product like where did it begin?

Why like what what was the need that you identified either for yourself or for customers? And then how has that evolved to get where it is right now? So we started well, we had the idea for Teller back when my co founder and I worked at a company called Envision. So Envision was a design prototyping software.

They’ve changed a bit these days, but back in the day, they were kind of like one of the go to tools for, for design prototyping. And they were a completely remote company before the pandemic happened. So we joined there. My co founder and I together and we were like the, we didn’t know anyone else who worked remotely.

So it was like a 700 person company or something completely remote. So it was, it was real weird. It was like quite strange. The idea of like working from your house and never leaving your house. It’s all pretty normal for us now, but like my friends used to. Make jokes and wonder, like, you know, if, like, if I would ever, like, make it out of my house, you know, like, I’d have to, like, send them a text message or something to make sure that I’m kind of still alive, because there was just no way that you’d, like, it was so, it was just such a weird break from, like, the normal way of, of working and besides all the weird, and I guess, like, funny stuff externally, when you worked at a remote company for the first time, you, you do realize I mean, we realized that there was a lot of things that you had to do very deliberately, differently in order to make it work.

Again, we’ve taken, we’ve kind of like just adopted a lot of the stuff as a, whatever, as a tech society, which I guess is the, has the greatest adoption of remote work. But at the time, yeah, we were like, wow, there’s, there’s some. Processes and things that they do quite deliberately to make this whole remote thing work.

And the thing that kind of stood out to my co founder and I was that with the reliance on video in particular asynchronous video. So there was a lot of like live zoom calls and everything, but like the, the big difference was ascending and, and receiving a video from one another. And I guess we sort of saw this and thought, this is.

But like there was, there was kind of another level to it that really got us interested. And so one of the things that they kind of mandated at envision was the product team had to record and create videos and then post them in like a big communal Slack channel. And you would post videos about all the work in progress, things inside of the product organization.

So if you imagine a product team split up into engineering and design and product, and then you also have like the, the sort of squads or whatever you know, each one of those kind of leaders or. Or anyone, really, would basically just say, like, here’s the latest thing that we’re working on. Here’s that feature that everyone is getting excited about.

Here’s where it’s at. And you would just post them all on the Slack channel, and then the rest of the company would just tune in to the Slack channel every day or every week or something, and just, like, scroll down like a whole stream of videos and watch all the videos. And the channel was called product backstage.

So you could like go backstage into the product org. And the, the, the real thing that caught her eye is like the better the video, like the more interesting the video, the more like engagement and got from the rest of the company. And there, then at some point there was kind of like this critical mass of people who were like really good at making videos and would like put them out often enough that people started to like look forward to certain people’s videos.

And kind of like, Oh, so and so has got a new video out, like it’s go check it out. And some people really put a lot of effort into them, too much effort sometimes, but it was basically just clear that like if you made a cool video, it was a really fun way to like engage and, and, and, and learn about what’s happening in the company.

And what we found is we were like. If you wanted to make one of these videos and I was kind of like, you know, the first customer because I was one of these people that was spending way too much time making the videos is that there wasn’t, there was just no tool for like making this kind of video.

Efficiently, like you just had to use screen flow or final cut or something, which are tools designed for professional video people. But if you’re just like a product manager or a designer at a company, you’re not meant to be spending five hours making a video, maybe an hour, you know, for, for, for, for, for like a company wide video.

But yeah, that was kind of the thing where like video is going to get bigger. There seems to be no tool that like deliberately focuses on making it easy for non video people to make. Really good video. So let’s go and try and do something in this space. And that was kind of just like It was, that was basically the idea and, and it’s, it’s evolved a little bit since then when we started, we really thought like, Oh, we’re going to go and sell this into big companies like Envision and whatever, and like other companies where our friends worked and we realized pretty quickly, but probably not quickly enough.

Most companies weren’t really into, into this Envision was kind of unique in having this culture already. And even after the pandemic had kind of like, had kind of taken over and forced everyone to work remotely, it still wasn’t. We still just didn’t find that like that people were really looking for, for this kind of thing inside of companies, occasionally, basically people be like, yeah, we’ve got loom, we use loom already and looms fine.

And so that was kind of the first thing we were like, Oh, have we miss understood this? And then we’ve kind of shifted our focus. To where people did have that need, and we basically found is that as we went down market, the need for this type of video increased because smaller teams need tools that can do more for them and smaller teams or individuals or startups are often communicating externally and anytime you’re communicating externally to customers or stakeholders or your audience, the need to have kind of like a more impressive video increases.

So yeah, our focus has always been on trying to help people make interesting and high quality videos. And the need for that is generally a bit more when you, when it has an external audience of customers. And we’re starting to see now that there’s like more and more adoption and understanding of that appreciation of that inside of bigger organizations.

So I think longer term. Yeah. We’ll be back into the kind of enterprise space. But right now, small businesses, startups, creators, freelancers, lots of people who are just kind of using video to put themselves out there. That’s kind of our sweet spot. Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, it’s, it’s such a typical, but also not typical story, right?

Like you experience an issue within your own working world, your own experience, and you find a solution for it. That’s the typical part. I think the not typical part that really keyed me in on your business is that you have successfully built a product that. Is used by for lack of a better term, the masses.

Right. And that’s where I have a follow up question because I’m just curious from your perspective, because you experienced this product for yourself or this need for yourself. And then I’m sure you have specific ideas about how the product should work from your own experience. I would wonder if that matches up with the experience that your customers have.

And if not, like, how do you decide when you’re adding features to the product, you’re adding functionality between your own knowledge, your own experience, versus this is what people are asking for. And how do you balance those things? I mean, it’s a constant, it’s a constant kind of like cycle. I think, yeah, you, you, you try and get to know your, your customer as, as much as you can, but often, you know, when you’re a small startup, your customer is kind of changing as, which is what happened for us is like we were kind of like shifting.

And kind of figuring it out. And it still is like that to an degree. You know, finding out what, what people, what people want. How do we kind of measure it? How do we kind of decide what to do and what not to do? I think we’ve always had a. Yeah, we’ve always kind of had our kind of like broader vision and kind of belief about, you know, video and what we want to do.

I guess in a some, I don’t know, an absolute sense and, and that, which I don’t think has changed is basically like. If you are not a video person, there is just not that many tools, video tools for you to, to use at work and to create, you know, better quality video. And I think whether you are working in a company or you’re a freelancer or you’re a creator or whatever it doesn’t, it doesn’t really matter.

So if, if, if you, if you yeah, coming, coming into, into video. Without the experience there, there’s, there’s, there’s less and less tools. There’s not as many tools as I think there should be for that kind of person. And so, yeah, we just go back to like, is this going to help us kind of reach that?

Are we making this easier? Are we making this faster? That’s kind of like the, the guiding principle, no matter who we’re kind of serving at the time. And then, yeah, like the, the, the simple answer, I think when building a startup, any kind of startup to me is like, you don’t really know until you just ship it and, and try.

So like you can have your, you can have like your, your customer and you can have your, your belief about what the product should be and your vision and everything. But until you’ve kind of shipped it and it’s out there and you can see people using it and adoption, you don’t really know. So you just have to be basically be willing to, to, to do that.

And so for us, then we kind of keep, you know, we have, I guess our customer needs, customer’s needs and how much of what kind of problem it solves for them and, and what’s it going to enable them to do. We have some kind of growth philosophies, I guess, that come into it. Like, you know, are there.

Things that we can add that will benefit our customers and also help us grow and beyond just them liking it more. And then again, we have kind of like the, I guess our, our vision, Northstar, whatever the a broader hypothesis, but then the, the, the, the number one thing is like, we just need to ship, if we think there’s something there, we just need to ship this and find out.

Yeah. Yeah. That makes total sense. Sounds like if I can bucket that into kind of categories, if you will, there’s like your overall vision for the product. Like you said, I like what you said of it’s video for, for lack of a better term, like people who are not. Familiar with making video. It’s like you can have high quality videos, but you don’t need to have a background in making videos.

So that’s cool. And then the other part of it is just like, guess and check. It’s like the Mike Tyson quote, right? Like everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face. Yeah. Yeah. That’s if I had some inspirational quotes for the wall, I think that would be That would, that would be a suitable one for, for, for many reasons.

Yep. Totally get that one. The number of times that you’re convinced something’s going to be a game changer and then you put it out and you’re like, yeah, all right, cool. My other question that I had from hearing the story of how you’ve reached product market fit is you made a shift. You went in with an initial hypothesis.

We’re going to sell this into companies like envision other big companies that need a sync video communication. And then you’ve shifted down market towards like the small business creator market, how did you know to do that? And also. How did you, what, what, what hypothesis or gut feeling did you have that was like, Oh, this is going to be the right move.

It’s not going to tank our company because you know, these people can’t pay for the product or whatever. Yeah. I mean, I think when you’re a small startup, like, and you’re still figuring things out, you shouldn’t be thinking like, Oh, is this going to tank the company? Because you’re, you barely have a company, you know, like you’re, you’re, and that’s a, I mean, that’s a.

I’m saying this with hindsight, like, you know, that’s, that, that should have been the attitude, but at the time you’re kind of like, yeah, more panicked and freaked out, I guess then you should be some founders are really good at this. Like, I, I’ve, I’ve met and no founders who are just insanely aggressive at, and, and good at just doing these hard pivots and shifts, whether it’s like fully to something else or just serving a different customer or something.

I don’t think I’m that kind of founder. I’m, I’m definitely a bit more of like the. The grinded out iterative one, so we never really made this kind of like Sudden big shift we sort of learned it. We learned it along the way I think there was probably there was probably a couple key moments in Yeah last year, I think last year last year where Where we just kind of saw this We, we worked with an influencer who was a customer.

So, but yeah, to, to recap, telling the story properly, we’re working with one of my customers was this YouTuber and influencer. I mean, he was a creator, but he had like a very big audience and we kind of worked with him on some content and his whole audience, his whole following were kind of like small businesses and creators and solopreneurs, you know, basically just kind of like on the smaller side, people who are kind of into you know, startups and tech and no code and that kind of thing.

There’s a sort of, there’s a big kind of like there’s kind of like this big, I guess, grouping of, of, of, of these kinds of these kinds of spaces. And that’s kind of what his, his audience was. And we worked with him on some content and it just kind of ripped it. Like it did really, really well. And so much of his audience kind of converted and became customers of ours.

And so that was kind of like, if there was one moment where we’re like, Oh, okay. So this. This can, if we, if we can, if we can like reach these people, then this can really work. And so that’s kind of been like the thing that kind of started us being much more deliberate about focusing on that. And so yeah, there were a couple other moments like that where we said, okay, this is, this is, this is the thing that makes, makes the most sense.

And when we feel the most kind of pull prior to that, you know, we’d, we’d, we’d seen interesting. Our customers do interesting things and seeing some kind of progress there. And I guess on paper, the idea of like Oh, I think in fact, I think what, what we started to see and we’re a little bit reluctant to accept was that people were using our videos for marketing.

Yeah. That, that was basically it. Like people were using our videos. to be some kind of marketing collateral or part of putting their business out there on the world, whether it’s sending a video one to one to someone or putting a video on YouTube or something, all of that stuff, stuff ultimately is some form of marketing, getting your, your product or service to your customers.

And I don’t think we’d ever kind of started the company thinking that like teller was going to be a marketing tool or for marketing things. And you know, now, yeah, it’s probably the, it’s probably the main kind of underlying use case of. People use our, use our product and make our videos to help sell their own stuff.

So yeah, I mean, that’s how we use it. And it’s funny because sometimes, right? Like you have this grand vision of how the product is going to be in the world. And especially for you coming from like, oh, it’s going to be an amazing tool for big companies to communicate. And then now it’s all the way shifted to like small businesses use it for marketing.

Yeah. And it, it’s, I guess it’s different for, it’s different. Depending on the type of tool that you use or the startup that you’re building. But the thing that was great for us is seeing how much more, how much more like agency a small business has over like the adoption of a tool and the buying process and like just using it themselves, like it was much more fun building stuff and, and working with smaller customers.

They could pay for it right away. They could just start using it that day. Like they had a video to make that day. Whereas anytime you work with a bigger customer, you know, like someone else is paying for it. Someone’s got to like get everyone else on board. You know, there was all that stuff. And I guess if you’re facing that kind of.

If you’re facing, if you’re going through those kind of conversations, then and feeling that kind of not resistance, but indifference, then it’s probably not, you’re probably not ready to be, to be serving, you know, that customer or in our case, like that size of customer or that, that, that use case, which for us was mostly kind of like internal comms.

Yeah. And then the other thing I wanted to key in on from what you just said about the influencer that you worked with, and then it was just like, it, that campaign just kind of went off. It feels like sometimes, you know, you have that fit when you’re struggling, you’re struggling, you’re struggling, and then all of a sudden it just feels easier than you expected.

It’s like, Oh, this was better and faster and easier than we expected. That’s the right fit. Yeah. I guess we didn’t know what to think so much beforehand, we sort of placed bets on like how well this was going to go and it worked way better than any of us could imagine. But then we tried to repeat it.

So we were like, okay, we just need to do this again. We just need to go and find the equivalent of this person in country X or country Y. And or we just need to find like another, another person you know, another, another like kind of person with that kind of audience and it didn’t work immediately.

It didn’t. Yeah, it didn’t. It definitely didn’t work immediately. It felt like it made more sense. But we still kind of had to like, you know, test different channels. So we did a lot of work on TikTok and sometimes that felt like it was working, but I think that’s just kind of like the feeling of TikTok where like, there’s such a big audience and it’s very easy to like, it’s very easy to go and get like an influence to make a video about you.

And you kind of feel the, the, the. You can kind of feel the, the the effect of like a video that does really well, but we just found that those, those users weren’t sticking around and becoming paying customers. And, and now kind of YouTube is like the sweet spot for us when it comes to working with, with influencers.

And I think that makes more sense because Tala’s product is a product for making videos from your computer, making slightly more longer form stuff, and that makes a lot more sense with YouTube. TikTok much more kind of indexed on kind of short form content and making stuff from your from your phone So that was probably something we could have seen in the beginning but like, you know, it’s it’s you kind of have to just try a bunch of stuff and and keep iterating so yeah, it wasn’t all totally smooth sailing, but I feel like every time we kind of saw Something that did work it kind of added to our current It adds to our current kind of Yeah.

Hypothesis and belief about like what, what’s going to work well for us. Yeah, for sure. For sure. Is the influencer marketing, like going through those people who are the big followings, is that your primary go to market strategy? Like, is that how you’re acquiring users? It, it has been in the past. That’s been kind of like our main main area, but I think at the moment it’s probably like a 50 maybe like a 30 30 30 split between influencer marketing and SEO at the moment.

I mean, SEO and kind of just like organic word of mouth and stuff. Yeah, the two areas where we like put in like much more conscious, you know, like deliberate effort and have kind of built up a process around is definitely influencer marketing and SEO. Yeah. And then for kind of like word of mouth and stuff, like you just put stuff out there on Twitter and social and build a better product and then, you know, yeah, that hope, hope that works.

So totally. Yeah. And that’s kind of been our experience too. Like those things, if the product is solving a real problem, that ends up just kind of being a tumble tumble cycle where it’s like you do the influencer that leads to SEO, that leads to word of mouth. So it’s all kind of all, all connected. Cool.

Well, if you’re game, I have some rapid fire questions we can do like just some quick hitters as we get towards the end here, if you’re up for that. Cool. All right. So first question that I had, what is the one thing that you do in your day or in your week that has the highest time to impact ratio?

Like, time you put in leads to greatest impact in your business. Hmm let me think. Greatest time to impact.

Ah, this is a good question. I know, I mean, the answer I want to say, but I think it’s wrong because it’s not time to impact is like… The thing that I just always underrate is just, like, getting a good night’s sleep. Just getting a good night’s sleep and feeling sharp. Like, that is, like, something that I naturally just resist because I want to stay up late and work and or do something else after a long day of work or something.

But, like, I think as I get older, the more you realize, like, if you just get a really good night’s sleep, you’re going to be, things are going to be better the next day. So I don’t know if that’s, that’s probably investing more, you know, like that’s investing time. But that certainly feels like something where it, yeah, the F maybe it does the right answer because instead the answer is just like going to bed earlier.

And so if that, like going to bed one or two hours earlier, so if that’s one or two hours effort to just kind of like set you right for the whole, the whole, you know. 8 to 12 hours or whatever you’re going to work the next day, that’s probably a pretty good, pretty good outcome. I completely agree with your answer.

I’d say that’s probably mine as well. Okay. Second one, who are your top influences? Could be an entrepreneurship, but who, who’s had the most influence on Tella and what you’ve built?

The one that’s kind of top of mind at the moment, like the one that I think about a lot because I use their product so much and just like, I just feel like they, they get it and they’re doing something different is the browser company. And the founders of the browser company, so they’ve built arc, which is this new web browser and yeah, the, the founders and the team there incredible product people and company builders and yeah, I just, if, if, if you haven’t checked out the browser company and arc, I would highly recommend it.

If you’re a big Chrome user, then this is going to be like a nice breath of fresh air because they just, they just thought of so many like amazing details and rethought a lot of things when it comes to using a browser and what a browser should be and. Yeah, they’re that’s that’s kind of the the one for me at the moment.

That’s cool I’ve not heard of that someone to check it out. That’s I like that. Okay. What are some commonalities amongst? Video creators, since we’ve talked a lot about using video for marketing, what are some of the top commonalities that you see from people who are exceeding your expectations or having a lot of success, success with video, even if maybe they are that type of person that doesn’t have a background in video?

I think the first thing is probably being. Prolific, not necessarily prolific, but like being just giving it a really good go. Like just, just, just getting started and trying to put out as much video as, as you can. That’s, that’s definitely the, the first thing. I think it goes for lots of, lots of aspects of marketing.

If you’re just going to like do one thing, you know, once every now and then it’s, it’s, it’s like trying to hit a home run when you’re going to get, I don’t know. One ball a month to try and like swing on or whatever. So I think just, just shipping more video is, is the first thing. And then I think the second thing, second thing is, yeah.

So, so one thing, and this is funny how this relates. I wrote like a mini like blog post about the browser company a while ago because they, the other interesting thing that they are doing is that they have an incredible video strategy. Now this is. I’m talking about them as kind of a company rather than a person, but I think it’s really, it’s really relevant to creators and smaller startups and smaller businesses because their, their approach is really, really human.

They don’t take themselves too seriously, but they’re not kind of like. They’re not like, they care about it. They’re really putting in the effort, but they’re, they’re like not taking themselves too seriously. They’re creative and they’re fun. They think about video for different platforms. So the way they do video on TikTok is gonna be different from what they put on Twitter, to the YouTube channel and so on.

They involve their whole company. So one of the things that I, that sort of when I was looking into this, that kind of stood out to me is it felt like They had their entire company building in public. So there’s this whole trend to build in public and kind of like put out a lot of your work and share your kind of wins and things like that.

Every like newsletter update and every video update on YouTube they’ve just got like loads of the team that have made videos or submitted to be part of it and it just makes the whole thing human. So I think the the summary of of this point would be use video to like get your personality across.

There’s Of all the platforms and as all the different types of medium out there, video is the one that gets your personality across because like you’re there, they’re looking at you. That’s kind of like the way you get your, your, your, your personality and character across. So if you make that the primary goal, I think that’s, that’s going to be the best way that it, that it succeeds because people like.

People, you know, so that’s okay. That’s, that’s good stuff because it’s like one, two, almost where it’s like one, just put stuff out, like, you’re not going to, you’re not going to get one home run on your first swing and then two. I almost wonder if it parlays, right? Like the more you put stuff out, the more you just, you don’t even have the energy to like put on a face if you’re putting a stuff out so constantly, it’s just like, then your real self shows up and that’s what ends up working.

I like that. Okay. Last one. Shifting over to the personal entrepreneurship side. What do you think it is? I’m, I’m always curious about this as an entrepreneur and there’s a school of thought that goes like every person has something that is kind of in their wheelhouse. It’s like something that they do that they’re really good at, that they enjoy, that gives them a competitive advantage.

And maybe it’s something like when you see something you can just grind longer than anybody else. Maybe it’s you have a really great eye for creativity or a great eye for spotting talent. What do you think your thing is? I think mine is probably being pretty good at it, at it, like like enough things, like, I really don’t think I’m like an expert in, in, in one thing.

There’s, I, I think there’s definitely like a few things that, that, that I feel pretty comfortable enough in. That means that like our team, you know, can kind of ship stuff fast and ship interesting things fast with a, with a small team. So yeah, I think, I think that’s, that’s probably like I can write, you know.

Okay. I can design. Okay. I can kind of build stuff. Okay. And do a little bit of marketing. And I think for early stage startups, like if you can kind of just the, the more you can do with less, I think that, that, that can help a lot. So that, that might be, that might be my one, just kind of being a bit of a jack of all trades.

I think that’s only going to get me so far. And like, you know, we’ve seen recently that like where I was really not up to and not, you know, solving doing the best job was like in, in marketing and growth. And we’ve brought Paul on to, to do this for us. And like, yeah, he’s doing far better job than, than I, than I was ever doing.

And, and it’s really yeah, having, having a big impact on us. So I think. Like our approach is always going to be like Do as much as you can with like who you’ve got when you start to see things kind of bust or like Not go fast enough or whatever Yeah, one of the ways to solve that is to then bring someone on that can can can be better So but in the meantime, yeah, just try and do as much as you can yourself.

Yeah, that’s cool I mean, I think I forget the the source of this quote but it’s like if you’re in the if you’re in the 80th percentile in three categories like three different areas that puts you in like 99th percentile overall because it’s really hard to be like near the top in different areas. I like that I don’t know if I’m an 80.

I don’t know if I’m in the top 80 percent of three but Aiming and always trying to always pretending to be maybe yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you till you make it, right? Yeah, and then also having the humility to be able to know like This is not my area. I want you to bring somebody in for this. I think that’s, that’s really big too.

Awesome. Well, definitely check out Tella. I know a lot of our audience is folks that would like to get into more video. That was our experience using it. Like we wanted to expand our. YouTube presence this year. We really have our team’s got done an incredible job and tell us Ben just super helpful in that again, like we’re not affiliated at all.

We just like it and we use it and we recommend it to people. So definitely check it out if you’re listening. Is there anything else that people should check out on your side? No, check out the site, Tella.tv. You can follow us for like regular updates and, and, and stuff like that on Twitter. Oh, and X which is at Tella HQ, that those are the best, best places to find us.

Perfect. Well, thanks for your time. I appreciate you sharing all this super valuable. And I appreciate you being on. Cool. Thanks Josh. This was really fun.

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Jessmyn Solana

Jessmyn Solana is the Partner Program Manager of Interact, a place for creating beautiful and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. Outside of Interact Jessmyn loves binge watching thriller and sci-fi shows, cuddling with her fluffy dog, and traveling to places she's never been before.