Q: What is Reel Tributes? What services do you provide?
Reel Tributes preserves family stories and memories by producing high-end personal history documentaries. The documentaries are customizable, featuring a combination of interviews, photographs, narration, archival footage, and music. Reel Tributes’ films capture the stories of an individual’s life as well as the family’s lineage through several generations. The average film is 30 minutes, but the length varies depending on the package selected and the family’s content.
Q: How did you come up with the concept?
Last year, my grandmother passed away. My mom produced a DVD to honor her and capture our family’s history. When she showed the video, it was an amazing moment. I realized just how powerful these films can be. Documentaries are much more touching and vivid than a photo album or a book. I started researching the concept, and found out that most families don’t have a way of organizing and preserving their pictures, stories, or lineage. In addition, there are few companies producing high-quality documentaries that bring all these pieces together.
Q: What differentiates you from other companies that provide similar services?
Reel Tributes’ is differentiated in three ways. The first, and most important, is quality. We have experienced and talented videographers and editors, and use top-of-the-line digital film-making equipment. Our interviewers have experience in news media and elder care, putting our clients at ease and bringing out the best stories. We also offer a range of product and feature options, including genealogy research, voiceovers, and make-up artists. Second, Reel Tributes makes the process an easy and rewarding one for the family. Our password-protected website allows customers to upload pictures, chat with other family members, and view and distribute the final video. Our third strength lies in marketing. Reel Tributes has partnered with a number of organizations who believe in the value of our product and will promote Reel Tributes to their members and clients.
Q: What are some of the unique challenges you faced or still face in starting the venture? How did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is estimating the demand for a Reel Tributes documentary at various price points. Since most people haven’t thought of making a film about their families, it’s difficult for them to determine whether a certain price is reasonable or not. Once customers see the final product, they are extremely satisfied with the film and consider it an invaluable part of the family’s collection. However, it’s a difficult decision to make ahead of time. We are trying to overcome this problem by talking to as many potential customers as possible, learning what features they are interested in, and tailoring our product offering to the demands in the market.
Q: What have been some of the most rewarding aspects of the venture?
It’s been an exciting ride so far! This is my first startup and I must say it’s always an adventure…in a good way. The most rewarding part has been working on our customers’ films. One is a 92-year old former governor of Pennsylvania. Listening to his stories during the interview and knowing that his children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy them for years to come, that’s a great feeling.
Q: What advice would you give to others at Wharton looking to start their own ventures?
Use the school’s resources as much as possible. There are a lot of them out there, but you have to know where to look. It’s not going to jump out at you. The resources I’ve found most helpful are professors, who are always eager to learn about students’ startup ideas, and fellow classmates. Also, now is the perfect time to start a business because people are always eager to help a student. Once we graduate, it’s going to be harder to convince customers and advisors to give you their time.