by Brandon Bloch, Founding Partner / Brand, Innovation & Community
Hometeam was founded to challenge the status quo and we're always striving to lead our industry toward a better approach to production.
That spirit earned us a spot on Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies list for 2023. And to keep it going, we were invited to attend the Fast Company Innovation Festival last week in NYC to check out lively panels and thought-provoking workshops exploring what's coming next - and we even took the stage to share our story.
For those who couldn't attend, here's a quick rundown of the trends and nuggets of wisdom that stood out:
Five Key Takeaways:
1. Stick to your Mission & Values
In multiple panels, whether about AI, community, investing, culture... it always goes back to the low-tech fundamentals of staying true to your mission and values. Focus on your ethos and bring the right team together and use your mission as your north star and you can't go wrong. Be proud and stand for something. The principles of a company are non-negotiable. At a session called Mission-Driven Leadership hosted by CHIEF, the former CEO of Merck, Ken Frazier said it this way, "The difference between a principle and a preference is: are you willing to pay for it?"
It always goes back to the low-tech fundamentals of staying true to your mission and values.
At Hometeam: We're proudly mission-driven and were founded with an urgent need to approach production differently and improve the experience for everyone involved - filmmakers and clients alike. We continue to use our mission as a guiding light as we seek to make production more inclusive, equitable, sustainable, and enjoyable for all.
2. AI Is Our Frenemy?
I expected the main topic of conversation to be AI and how scary it is. I was pleasantly surprised that it was just one of many topics and it was presented in a pretty level-headed way. First, AI is here to stay... it's not a shiny object like NFTs, but more of a “Tech Sea-Change" like the internet. Yes, we need to proceed with caution and healthy skepticism. AI is imperfect and prone to bias - and we don't want AI to replace us or become our overlord. But, when used responsibly, it can be a helpful collaborator used for things like kickstarting the creative process or streamlining workflows. We can decide the guardrails for ourselves. In its best form, we can even see ways it can be leveraged (by humans with good intentions) to help the environment, save lives, and lead to social progress.
AI is imperfect and prone to bias - and we don't want AI to replace us or become our overlord. But, when used responsibly, it can be a helpful collaborator used for things like kickstarting the creative process or streamlining workflows.
At Hometeam: We certainly don't want to replace people with AI... but we're getting hands-on and experimenting with AI-enhanced tools to discover ways to streamline our process and open up new creative possibilities.
3. Speaking Proudly With a Defined Voice
One inspiring session hosted at Wieden + Kennedy had them walking through their recent launch campaigns for different Ford vehicles (the Bronco, Raptor, and Mustang). They showed us how each vehicle had its own DNA (history, identity, fan base) and they used that to craft a specific brand voice for each vehicle's brand identity. They walked us through how that voice extended through commercials, print ads, social, merch. Every brand should find their own unique voice and embrace it proudly. As they said..."Having a POV is everything. If you don't have a POV, you don't have a soul."
At Hometeam: We're proud to be a bit different in our production approach, and we think there's a hunger for that among our clients and filmmakers who are united around our brand. Look for exciting new ways (*ahem... merch*) we’ll celebrate what makes us, us.
4. Great Customer Service Leads to Growth
I attended a dinner hosted by the founder of Tacombi (a fast-growing Mexican restaurant) and he spoke about how important it is to consistently provide high-quality and memorable experiences to his guests. The next day, a session about "The New Premium Frontier" talked about how elevated customer experiences created “Forever Customers." It's about defining our customers' expectations and what's really most valuable to them and then creating a customized, personalized, delightful, memorable experience that improves their lives.
At Hometeam: While clients come to Hometeam for our unique production model, they often return because of the end-to-end experience they have with our team guiding clients through the production process and consistently over delivering each step of the way. What we do a bit differently is that we also consider the experience of our filmmakers and how we are adding value to their lives. We find when all sides' interests are aligned, it creates a really happy dynamic where we feel we can all win-win together.
5. In Service of Community
In one panel called "Creating Communities and Building Brands," the CEO of Wieden + Kennedy and execs from Nike, the NBA, and E.L.F. Beauty spoke about how they turn their customers into die-hard fans. Think about what's important to customers and show you're listening and actually acting on it. Go beyond selling a product and think about how you can build real relationships. A brand built of, by, and for the people will be truer to itself. And, at its best, a company collaborates with its customers (and fans) to help come up with new products, services, and help shape the direction of a company in a very conversational, fun, and democratic way.
Go beyond selling a product and think about how you can build real relationships. A brand built of, by, and for the people will be truer to itself.
At Hometeam: Hometeam was founded by filmmakers for filmmakers and so we feel inherently connected to our community. We hire the best local filmmakers where they are. We benefit from their local know-how and they benefit by getting great opportunities locally so they don’t have to leave home whenever a job comes up. We're asking ourselves how we can form stronger relationships with our clients and our filmmakers beyond the transactional project — and we're working on some pretty fun things that'll do just that.
Favorite Panel of the Festival: "Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks"
Pinky Cole held the audience in rapt attention as she talked about all the failures she's had in life - when her restaurant burned down, when she had failed relationships, as a hard-working entrepreneur of a scaling vegan foods business - and how those struggles ultimately led to invaluable life lessons that made her stronger, wiser, and more successful. It's all about failing forward and staying tenacious along the way. She wrote a book about it called "I Hope You Fail" and I can't wait to read it.
Yes, Hometeam took the stage!
Hometeam was chosen to take the stage and tell our "Innovation Breakthrough” story. I told the story about the Covid-era origin of Hometeam -- how we turned a constraint into an opportunity to help our filmmaker peers continue working.
We turned a constraint into an opportunity to help our filmmaker peers continue working.
And then, how we've discovered during the three years since, that leaning into community and thinking differently has resulted in many additional benefits like inclusiveness, sustainability, and telling bigger creative stories. Keep an ear out! Our story will be featured on an upcoming episode of Fast Company's Podcast.
Highlight of the Week
Yes, it was inspiring and thought-provoking to attend so many inspiring panels and workshops. But, no surprise, the highlight of the week was meeting up with some of our favorite NYC filmmakers and creative collaborators for an in-person Hometeam Happy Hour. The weather was pitch-perfect, the vibes were chill, and we had a solid turnout of some of our favorite filmmakers, who joined us for a bit of Hometeam Community Building.