"I really thought I had blown my chance at the big leagues. I felt like I was at rock bottom, and things couldn’t get any worse. In which case, why not start my own company?"
Discover why Andrew David Osborne founded Minifridge Media - a Toronto video production agency shaking up corporate videos.
Hi Andrew! What's your background, and what's Minifridge Media?
Minifridge Media is a video production company in downtown Toronto that I started in January 2016. We create commercials, explainer videos, and corporate videos for businesses and brands across the GTA. Our goal is to create video content that is of a higher quality than the traditional bland 'corporate video.’ We want our videos to look like TV commercials, even if they’re for a local insurance company.
Really, what it is is an excuse for me to do what I’ve always done, which is write, produce, direct and edit videos. As a kid my favourite toy was the camcorder; I scored a 98% in high school videography class (that sounds like I’m bragging but it actually wasn’t considered cool at the time); I studied film at Queen’s University and made comedic segments for Queen’s TV. I’ve had a lot of side projects, from a docu-series on stand-up comedy, to an instagram skit channel called @thatskitcray that had 25K followers at its peak.
So I make videos whether I’m getting paid to or not. But it sure is nice to get paid for it.
What motivated you to get started with Minifridge Media?
The truth is that I lost my job and couldn’t find another one. My first big ‘film job’ out of school was at this really high-end editing firm in Toronto, which I had to intern at for months to get. I was an assistant editor on commercials for big brands like Rogers, Orville Redenbacher’s, and FedEx.
"Getting a good job in the Toronto film business is tough. I somewhat miraculously did it once; doing it twice seemed nearly impossible."
I lost that gig in November 2015 and landed right back to where I was when I graduated—going around town, handing out resumes and looking for a job. Getting a good job in the Toronto film business is tough. I somewhat miraculously did it once; doing it twice seemed nearly impossible.
That was kind of a dark time for me. I really thought I had blown my chance at the big leagues. I felt like I was at rock bottom, and things couldn’t get any worse. In which case, why not start my own company?
In hindsight, I realize that I still had a lot to lose at that point. But it doesn’t matter if you’re actually at rock bottom—you just have to feel like you are, and then it’s easier to take a big risk. So go ahead and lose your job, and maybe get your girlfriend to dump you while you’re at it. You’ll have the next Apple on your hands.
How have you attracted customers and grown Minifridge Media?
When Minifridge Media started, I cold-called just about every company in Toronto asking if they needed a video. The thing is, we were brand new and didn’t have a portfolio yet. It makes me cringe to think about, but it’s true. I was calling businesses asking if they wanted commercials, when I hadn’t even made one yet.
Eventually one guy told me to just stop calling him until I had made some videos. So I made some low-budget videos for my dad’s company, and I made an explainer video for my friend Bryan Gold’s influencer-marketing company #Paid.
"The fear of failure outweighs the fear of potentially bothering some nice executive out there."
Once I had some work to show, the cold-calling went a little bit easier. But it’s still hard. I do it anyway, because for me, the fear of failure outweighs the fear of potentially bothering some nice executive out there.
What's your business model? Why do you focus on corporate videos?
Our business model is this: if you need video content made for your business, and you have a certain amount of money (usually starting at $5K, but sometimes it’s as high as $50K), we’ll make it for you. Part of that cost covers fees for writing, producing, directing, and editing. Those fees are the company’s profits.
We started focusing on corporate videos because, especially at the beginning, we were aware of our size and knew that Old Spice wasn’t gonna come calling to handle their Super Bowl spots. So I thought, let’s take this dusty old genre of corporate video, which has a reputation of being cheesy and boring, and make videos for Toronto businesses that look and feel more like TV commercials.
After years of this approach, we’re now being approached to do real commercials; we just finished one for Chuck’s Roadhouse Grill that would be totally at home playing on TV in front of a Leafs game. So I think that’s the direction we’re heading in, although we’re still doing plenty of corporate videos.
What do you think has had the biggest impact on your sales since you started?
I think that as our portfolio gets better, it’s easier to convince companies that we can handle their video. Our early clients took a leap of faith on us. Now, we have quite a large portfolio with a lot of variety, which is reassuring to potential clients.
I’ve also learned that there is so much that’s out of our control as salespeople. We don’t know what’s happening behind those closed boardroom doors. You could pull your hair out blaming yourself when a deal doesn’t go through, when really you were doomed from the start for some internal reason you could never have predicted, or done anything about.
Have you found any resources or habits particularly helpful or advantageous?
There are a lot of resources that help me make professional videos; websites like Mandy (the casting site, not the insanely cool Nicolas Cage movie), or Voices.com with its database of voiceover actors, or Motion Array, which has After Effects templates.
As far as habits go, I wish I could tell you that I get up at 5AM every day, crunch out a bunch of one-handed push-ups and eat raw eggs for breakfast, but that’s not the case. I actually wake up closer to 8AM and do those things. And they really help.
Do you have any helpful advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs / wantrepreneurs?
Just start and get the first year over with.
The first year is the worst, and when it’s done you’ll have a pretty good idea of whether your business will work or not. So take Nike’s advice and just do it already.
Thanks for sharing Andrew!