It may be approaching its 10th birthday, but video content marketplace startup Genero was waiting for exactly the right time to raise its latest $4 million, and to take on the US market.
Founded by Mick Entwisle and Andrew Lane in 2009, Genero is a platform designed to connect brands in need of video marketing with content production teams.
This latest capital raise marks the second round of funding from Ellerston Venture Capital Fund, which also contributed $4 million to Genero in 2016.
Before that, the startup was funded by the founders themselves, their friends and family, and private investors. But, Entwisle tells StartupSmart, pairing up with a VC was the right thing to do.
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“We got along very well with [Ellerson] and they had great experience in what we were trying to do,” he says.
“They believed in our vision and had the faith in us to back us.
“They’re happy with our progress and can see the potential value in our business,” he adds.
Genero will use this latest funding to expand operations in the US, which Entwisle says is “such an important market from the advertising industry perspective”.
Entwisle and Lane have been “building very patiently” to make sure they enter the US with the best product they can. But the time to move is now.
“The market has caught up,” Entwisle says.
“Marketers understand the power of video.”
The funding will “really give us presence in what could end up being the most important market for us, globally”, he adds.
In order to make the best of the US market, Entwisle says the founders first needed to make sure they could build a team that was large enough and senior enough to focus on client experience.
Already, with very few people on the ground in San Francisco and Los Angeles, the startup is working with Google and Facebook, meaning there’s a need for “people there to work with them more closely”.
“The US is such an important market, we wanted to make sure we do it properly,” Entwisle says.
“Mainly, we were waiting until we were ready and able to dedicate enough time and resources to that market. Advertisers over there are trusting us. We need to make sure we continue to exceed their expectations.”
Not a disruptor
While Entwisle says Genero provides a new model for sourcing video content, he doesn’t necessarily view the company as a disruptor.
Both the founders come from marketing backgrounds. As the internet “started to change everything” in the space, Entwisle says, “we could see that video was the best-performing format across all those platforms”.
The pair simply saw an opportunity for a new way to provide video content to marketers, Entwisle says, adding: “The traditional agency production model hasn’t really evolved in decades”.
“Some people use the word disruptive,” he says.
“We prefer ‘alternative solution’.”
Find the right investor
If Entwisle has one piece of advice for other startups looking to make the leap into a new market, it’s to make sure they have the right investors on board.
“When you need the money it’s hard to say no,” he says.
“But, investors that aren’t really aligned can be really problematic.”
This is especially true when there are several independent investors, each with their own opinions and ideas, Entwisle adds.
“Managing all those opinions and different objectives can really side-track you if you’re not careful,” he says.
When a startup is looking into international expansion, it has to be flexible — able to react to a change in culture, or fluctuating market conditions — and so it can be difficult if investors are “focused on the short term”, Entwisle says.
“Find the right investor who is going to back you and support you, and has the same long-term vision,” he advises.