We recently sat down with content guru Keith Gallop to discuss "no hands"
Interview By Keith Gallop
So, what was it that prompted the two of you to join together and start No Hands?
John: I had been working as a freelance photographer for about 10 years, and I saw that more and more, video was starting to play a greater role in communication. I decided I wanted to move in that direction, and at about the same time, I met Kyle.
Kyle: I have a background in interior and industrial design, and when a furniture company from Montreal was looking to enter the Ottawa market, we were both included on the project. That’s what kicked it all off for us. We worked well together, and we have a similar creative style. I think we both saw a need for a fresh approach to story telling, and that’s what started our conversation about setting up a company together.
How did you get No Hands off the ground?
Kyle: We started by simply talking about our ideas. These days, everyone basically has a super computer, i.e. a cell phone, in the palm of their hand. We realized that we could make short, but incredibly impactful video stories. It’s amazing how well you can connect with someone this way.
John: We did a quick SWOT analysis and saw a gap in the market. There are a lot of small to medium sized businesses that have ad budgets, but the bigger production houses aren’t meeting their needs. And that’s where we come in. It’s not just about spend, but about coming up with a unique and relatable way for these companies to reach their customers.
What are some of the key steps you took from ideation to being ready to launch?
Kyle: The first thing we did was get a business plan together. We wanted to get on our feet quickly, so it took a bit of discipline to put this down on paper, but we can’t stress enough how valuable it was to us. It helped us articulate who we are, what direction we want to take the company, and how we’re structured.
John: I think one of the most important aspects of writing a business plan is that it offered us both complete clarity. We started off in total agreement and understanding of what we were trying to do. Neither one of us was making any assumptions, because we’d mapped everything out.
Kyle: We also took the time to get our company set up properly. We’re a corporation with a shareholders’ agreement. It’s important to have the legal structure sorted out, including exit clauses. We certainly don’t plan on exiting, but we felt we should have all the details ironed out.
What’s the most helpful advice or support that you’ve had as you’ve built your business?
Kyle: Invest Ottawa has been incredibly helpful to us. Not only did we get a start up grant from them, but they are a great resource for local businesses. They’re in touch with what’s happening in the Ottawa marketplace, and they offer a lot of free seminars—from business plan writing, to managing finances, to marketing—that are fantastic.
We also read a lot and listen to podcasts to gather fresh ideas and stay in touch with our industry.
What would you say has been the most important thing for your success as business partners?
John: It’s definitely the trust and confidence we have in each other. As partners, you know that sometimes the other person has to make a decision without you. We are both completely comfortable with that, because of our trust.
Kyle: With creative ideas, there can be differences of opinion, so we definitely challenge each other. And every time it happens, the end result is always improved. I think that the respect we have for each other and our confidence in each other’s abilities has a huge—and positive—effect.
Where does your name come from?
Kyle: You know the feeling you had when you were a kid riding your bike and you took your hands off the handlebars for the first time? That excitement, the joy, and maybe a little bit of fear? That’s the kind of emotion we hope to evoke with our work. The name says it all.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a business owner?
John: I know it sounds like a greeting card, but waking up every day and doing what you love. It’s amazing.
Kyle: I totally agree. We’re building something. That feeling of creating something that’s going to have an impact. It doesn’t even feel like work. Sometimes you have to take a risk and do something that you love. I say to people ‘be ready for the work, but you just have to dive in and make it happen’.
From meeting with John and Kyle it is easy to see the level of respect that exists between the two business partners. Each makes an effort to ensure the other has a chance to contribute while still making sure their own point comes across. Any clients looking for modern marketing tools from ‘no hands’ will benefit from their different creative background and their collaborative approach which pushes them to deliver something unexpected and exciting.