Most entrepreneurs don't have a blueprint to conceive their next big idea. And they often don't know how to deal with burnout from the rigors of building a startup. But 30-year old Joel Holland, founder of VideoBlocks, has discovered the keys to solving both problems. He hops in an RV, turns the ignition, and hits the road.
But he doesn't see this as a vacation — it's more like inspired work. His daily tasks of talking with investors, returning customer phone calls and finding solutions are planned between pit stops, scenic views and guided tours. He believes the business doesn't suffer; in fact, he says it thrives.
Over the last 18 months, he's been through 43 states and logged over 30,000 miles on his odometer. This has led him to over hundreds of hours of reflection. It's just him and his thoughts traveling across the country in his RV. "That's when I can zoom out," he said. "And think about what we're trying to build at VideoBlocks."
A turning point in his company came on one of his most recent trips. It was during a long stretch across a desert when he came up with the idea of creating a market place for buyers and sellers of the stock video industry. It completely changed his business and it's what has helped him scale his company to where it is today — one of the hottest digital media startups that's challenging Shutterstock, Getty and Pond5. They've crossed over the $20 million mark in revenues and reached growth of 214 percent in the last three years, according to the company.
"I find the easiest way to clear my mind is on an open road," he said. "There's something soothing and therapeutic about watching the blur of towns, mountains and landscape fly past."
As he was graduating from Babson College he turned down a six figure offer from Wall Street and moved into his parent's basement to start his company. "Everyone was telling me to take the job, bankroll some money and then start the business," Holland said. "I realized kicking that can down the road was dangerous. If I didn't start the business then it would become increasing less likely in the future."
The inspiration for launching his company came in 2009 when he was working as a video editor on a small television show. They landed an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger and it went brilliantly. Schwarzenegger offered great advice and the piece should have been amazing, but Holland's employer didn't have a budget for stock media. "The production quality was complete s**t," Holland said. "So that's why I started VideoBlocks — to solve that problem."