The $1 Billion Explainer Video

If you’ve been on the Internet, you’ve probably seen the explainer video for Dollar Shave Club. It has over 22 million views on YouTube. In case you haven’t seen it, here it is:

Dollar Shave Club is a business idea that was started by Michael Dubin and Mark Levine. Two guys who met at a party and spoke of their frustrations with the cost of razor blades. So they did something about it.

It’s a simple idea for a business. A monthly subscription for cheap razor blades. But what really made it a success was their video that promoted the idea. It’s humorous and different. Or, at least it was at the time they made it. Lots of companies have tried to imitate their video. Few have been as successful. But, in running a company that makes videos for businesses, I’ve had a lot of clients ask me if we could make a video like that. And of course, we can. Though that doesn’t mean it’s going to go viral. That’s a topic for another post.

The point of this blog entry is to show how important a video promoting your business can be. Dollar Shave Club just sold to Unilever for $1 Billion. That’s absolutely incredible!

A good explainer video isn’t everything. Running a business isn’t easy! Heck, we’ve had all sorts of ups and downs here at SDS. But it’s certainly something that can boost your business idea into a success and is a key element.


Humble Beginnings

I often get asked how I got started making explainer videos.

Well, it all started when I was about 4 years old. I was fascinated with stop-motion animation as seen in old Gumby and Davey and Goliath shows. I didn’t fully understand how it worked, but I understood that it was a series of still images. I asked my mom to borrow a 35mm still camera. My father worked for Fujifilm, so he developed the pictures for me.

Chalkboard Animation

A 2-frame story about a character who started out with no friends and then instantly had many.

So my first “animation” wasn’t much of a success. But I kept practicing and eventually got a hold of a second hand VHS-C camcorder. I remember making my own Gumby episodes and increasingly improved the production.

When I was in the 6th grade, I decided to make a full short film. It was a story about a Native American Shaman who goes on a journey to the future to save his people.

Stop-motion project

Used our TV as a monitor and a step ladder as a tripod. Moving on up in the world!

After high school, I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker. My friends and I got together and we started doing all sorts of filmmaking-related things. Short films, music videos, actor demo reels, we even started a series on YouTube. But eventually, we had to get a little more serious and turn our work into a business if we wanted to continue doing it. So I scoured the Internet for clients and eventually found a business who needed a video.

Detailed Stop-motion animation

Animating with tweezers.

It was our first client and we had no idea how much to charge. I think we ended up making less than $500. But it was nice to actually earn some money for our work and it enabled us to start a portfolio. We now had something we could show new potential clients. I can safely say this video helped launch our careers and grow into the studio we are today.