John Richardson has always wanted to take video production on the road.
Ever since the late 1990s, when he owned a software company with an in-house ad team that produced videos using a model he felt took too long and cost too much, he saw a need to make the process more accessible to businesses and other clients looking to tell their stories.
“The set-up time and the breakdown time took forever, and the results were mediocre at best,” Richardson said. “I wanted to do the ‘Jetsons’ — where a suitcase would explode into a ready-made studio. And the only way I could figure to do that was to do it with a truck and show up at the customer’s location. At the time, the technology didn’t really exist to do that.”
It does now.
After spending more than a year retrofitting a 40-foot RV and packing it with technology such as Canon HD cameras, top-of-the-line editing capabilities, miles of Ethernet cable and a 6-foot Wi-Fi antenna, Richardson, 42, of Lawrence, launched Quick-Cast, a mobile production studio, on May 1. It’s based out of Omega Self Storage in Amityville, but it’s ready to travel wherever the RV can roam.
Richardson invested about $250,000 of his own money in the build-out and has hired a staff of seven.
Before the company’s official launch, it had taken on clients here and there since he bought the recreational vehicle — dubbed the QCC Reliant (for Quick-Cast Coach) — in January 2016.
Targeting the ever-growing demand for online content, his services include interview videos done against the RV’s green screen, memes, whiteboard animations, drone footage, livestreaming and even a finger-puppet theater.
Using the souped-up RV means “trial and error is taken out of the process” for the client, Richardson said. “We buy the expensive equipment and leverage it over multiple customers.”
A big selling point: The services can be turned around quickly, sometimes in a day.
For example, take a busy CEO who wants to post fresh “ask the expert” video segments regularly on his or her company website. The RV pulls up, the CEO steps aboard, the Quick-Cast staff films the segments, and the CEO gets back to work. Quick-Cast staffers edit the videos, adding music and graphics. The CEO has the videos by the end of the day.
The company’s business model is to sell ongoing subscriptions for regular half-day or full-day sessions, during which clients can make as many videos or other content as they like.
Richardson said he prefers to have subscriptions of at least four half-day sessions a year. A half day runs $500; it’s $1,000 for a full day.
Richardson started his first company, a computer networking and support business, at age 14 to help pay his way at home because, he said, “McDonald’s money was never going to cut it” in a single-parent household. He started the software firm, Neurologix, 10 years later.
He sold the computer business, Graphic Arts Design Systems, which kept him busy through college at SUNY Old Westbury, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing, in 1999. A year later he sold Neurologix, but he kept at video editing as a hobby.
The sale of those businesses gave him the money to buy a house and cars, with extra left over. He later became a technology director at several schools, but he said he always felt more secure as an entrepreneur than an employee. In January 2016, he came across the RV, which had already been retrofitted for corporate use.
He bought it and immediately set to transforming it into the QCC Reliant, which he said took a lot of customization, trial and error.
Felicia Fleitman, founder and CEO of the Westbury-based startup recruitment consulting firm Savvy Hires, was one of Quick-Cast’s first clients. She set up a strategy call with Richardson first about doing a set of video clips on interview tips and spent a half-day in the RV studio. She plans to launch a YouTube channel soon.
Fleitman said the Quick-Cast experience “really worked with my timing and my schedule,” and while she was not used to standing in front of a camera, the staff made her feel comfortable and gave her tips on how to make her message best resonate.
She said she could envision taking Quick-Cast on the road to campus career fairs. “A student could hop into the RV and record a digital cover letter to one of the companies they met that day” as a way to humanize the recruitment process, she suggested.
Among the challenges Quick-Cast faces is winning over potential customers to the mobile concept; many will need to actually see the scale and depth of the operation to fully understand its potential.
Donna Drake, who runs an independent production company and hosts the interview show “Live It Up!” that airs on WLNY-TV, said clients also want to know that their content will be seen by a wide network.
Richardson said most of his customers play to their existing audiences, but if there’s a need to assist in distributing the message, he partners with digital marketing agencies.
As bookings pick up, Richardson said, he hopes to expand his fleet with other, smaller vehicles. “We have to feel out the market,” he said. “That will shape the construction of the vehicle.”
At a glance
Company: Quick-Cast, Amityville
Founder and owner: John Richardson
Launched: May 1
Sales: About $92,000 expected by end of July
Projected 2017 sales: $225,000
Total invested: $250,000