Know Your ‘Why’ | Teradek
One of my favorite things to find out about someone is their ‘Why.’ Why they do what they do. What their driving factor is that inspires them to create and innovate day in and day out.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with fellow creative Mike Gailing, Director of Marketing for Teradek, who shared both his and Teradek’s ‘Why.’ Having been with Teradek since pretty much the beginning, Mike has seen them go from a startup to a widely successful and well-respected company. But one constant that has remained throughout the past seven years is their ‘Why,’ which Mike attributes their success and employee loyalty to.
Teradek’s headquarters in Irvine, CA.
A company’s ‘Why’ starts with the leader. If the leader is uninspired, their employees will follow suit. When Nicol Verheem cofounded Teradek with colleagues from General Electric, he wanted to do something truly innovative; fail fast and fail often so they can produce amazing things. They had a passion to push the limits of technology in wireless video.
Their original idea was to tackle the security video space. From there, they had the idea to create a compact H.264 wireless broadcaster to stream on iOS devices that, if designed right, could change the way filmmakers view footage. They applied what they learned from designing security video solutions to create what became the first iOS monitoring tool in the cinema industry: the Teradek Cube. Thanks to an employee’s connections to the cinema industry, the Cube encoder quickly circulated cinema circles, where it was used with first-generation iPads as a monitoring device.
Teradek employees at work.
In 2013, Teradek was sold to The Vitec Group and Nicol stayed onboard as CEO. Since then, Teradek has become a division within The Vitec Group called Creative Solutions, where Nicol continues to act as CEO. Within Creative Solutions are SmallHD, Wooden Camera, and Teradek. Teradek has also acquired other brands such as RTMotion, OFFHOLLYWOOD, and Paralinx.
According to Mike, “Nicol was instrumental in identifying these companies and making sure they were a good fit with The Vitec Group. I think one of the big misconceptions about The Vitec Group – and one that we even had at Teradek before we got purchased – was that they were going to take over the company and tell us what to do. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. One of the great things about The Vitec Group is they really allow businesses to continue to operate basically untouched, provided they’re still growing and doing well. I think that’s one of the secrets to The Vitec Group’s success. I mean, look at Manfrotto and Litepanels; in most cases they let those brands just continue on as they are. So when Nicol bought SmallHD and Wooden Camera and was creating this division, he wanted to find companies that shared his entrepreneurial spirit and were young, hungry, and poised for growth. We all knew these guys because Teradek worked with their companies before we were purchased. We already knew their businesses and knew what they were all about. We shared the tech-forward mindset and love pushing boundaries and taking chances. So they were just a perfect fit for us.”
Photoshoot of the Teradek Slice.
I asked Mike how they maintain a startup mentality even though they’re owned by The Vitec Group. He said that having that sort of mentality is actually in The Vitec Group’s best interest. “They see us as kind of a growth engine. We’re willing to be that arm of the company that’s taking chances and trying different things. We’re not corporate at all. And I think that’s one reason I said we still feel like a scrappy startup. I know SmallHD and Wooden Camera would say the same thing; we all operate the same way. There is very little corporate structure other than payroll and HR. We have Google hangouts with the other businesses in our division. We talk about new product ideas together and then get to it!”
Teradek employee at work.
A company’s ‘Why’ should provide vision for the future. At Teradek, they’re working towards a future that goes far beyond just Teradek. “I think the vision is not just Teradek alone. At least not in the video and cinema space. One of the big things that we’re looking to do is integrate our products together across different Vitec brands. A good example is when we worked with SmallHD to integrate the Bolt directly into a monitor. Likewise, Wooden Camera and Manfrotto have been working together to create a DSLR cage. We’re always looking at doing things that bring us closer together. What we want to do is simplify the process of having to cherry pick products, and figure out ways to connect them so they seamlessly blend together.”
Teradek employees at work.
While Teradek and Nicol’s ‘Why’ are integral to the success of the company, I also love to know someone’s personal ‘Why.’ When I asked Mike why he does what he does, he attributed it back to Teradek’s ‘Why.’ “I really love working for Teradek because we’ve been able to hold onto a lot of what we had when we started the company. The attitude of taking risks and if you’re going to fail, fail fast and try something else. You can be owned by a huge conglomerate but still be allowed to act as a nimble startup. The other reason why I do what I do is because of the people; there’s just so many awesome people here. It feels like family; everyone is so talented and driven.”
Teradek employee at work.
Teradek was created on and still runs on the idea of taking chances and not being afraid to fail. Their ‘Why’ has led to immense growth, and despite joining forces with Vitec, they’ve been able to maintain their employees which, according to Mike, “just goes to show that everyone here believes in what we’re doing.” When a company has a strong and cohesive ‘Why’, great things can happen.
Read Teradek’s article about MAKE films here.