About 20 people, including yours truly, tuned-in on Thursday for a noontime “Virtual Founders Meet-up” hosted by FoundersForge based in Johnson City.
The slightly more than 60-minute event featured an insightful, candid and engaging conversation with Joshua Davies, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FXHome. It is a 19-year old United Kingdom-based company that disrupted the creative industry as it grew to more than five million users. The company’s products include:
- HitFilm Express, a free video editing software product with professional grade VFX tools and everything need to make content, films or gaming videos, particularly for beginners, film students, gamers, and YouTubers.
- Imerge Pro that enables the creation of professional photo composites with unlimited layers and zero baked-in changes.
- HitFilm Pro that is described as the top choice for artists worldwide because it gives creatives their editing, compositing, titling and 3D tools in a single product.
As you can imagine, ways that Davies facilitated that growth and challenges he overcame were the basis of a robust Q&A session that began less than halfway through the event that was moderated by Rodolphe Pierre-Louis. He’s the Founder of ActionVFX, a Johnson City-based company that provides stock video footage for visual effects and motion graphics. (EDITOR’S NOTE: We spotlighted the company in this recent teknovation.biz article.)
“My life looks very different today,” Pierre-Louis said as he described searching the internet as a high school student and finding FXhome, the company that grew from Davies efforts to help his step-brother and others who needed visual effects for a film study course they were taking. Clearly, Brit’s entrepreneurial journey inspired Pierre-Louis to launch his own venture.
“The first nine years were challenging,” Davies said, adding that FXhome really did not make any money for the first four years it existed. “I had a lot of support.”
Originally intending to join his family’s picture framing business, Davies studied art in college.
Of his journey to successful business executive – the company has 28 employees, its Founder showed his candor early on when he said, “I very much learned from mistakes.” Those mistakes included working 120-hour weeks that disrupted his work-life balance, failing to rely on the knowledge of others, and being too micro rather than macro in his approach to challenges and opportunities.
“I learned from those experiences how to build a team,” Davies said. “It (FXhome) has now very little to do with me.”
One of the lessons he learned was to tell people the following: “Hang on, I don’t understand,” and taking time to find the answer. Davies also described a key turning point for FXhome when he was recruiting a Sales Manager. One of the candidates told him, “You’re hiring the wrong position. You need an Operations Manager.”
After pondering her input, Davies said he decided she was correct and hired the woman who was about his age.
“She built a plan for us and executed on it,” he added. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with cancer and died a year later, but the resilience she showed during that period inspired her coworkers as well as FXhome’s customers who bought more product than they needed to help FXhome in the tough period.
One attendee asked about the value of conferences in terms of customer acquisition.
“Are conferences a dying medium or an expanding one? It seems to be both,” Davies observed, adding that FXhome experiences about a 40 percent hit rate on business development at conferences.