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How Lindsay Stewart of Stringr is Shaking Up the Videography Industry

Stringr has really changed the way video is sourced and produced. Our technology connects creators with talent around the globe as well as allows teams to work collaboratively, whether they’re in a studio, the field, or — these days — in their pajamas. Need video from Omaha? It’s a click of a button. How about […]

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Stringr has really changed the way video is sourced and produced. Our technology connects creators with talent around the globe as well as allows teams to work collaboratively, whether they’re in a studio, the field, or — these days — in their pajamas. Need video from Omaha? It’s a click of a button. How about a live shot on the beach in Hawaii? Another click. Want a full transcript of an interview you just captured live on the Stringr platform? Just press a button. So much of video production used to be completed in-studio, but with our platform, you can source anything, collaborate with colleagues on an edit and publish from anywhere. The power of cloud-based tech with the largest global network of videographers.

Asa part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsay Stewart.
Lindsay Stewart is co-founder of Stringr, a media-tech company with an international network of 100,000+ videographers that can be mobilized to capture news in minutes, anywhere. A veteran producer with ABC News, Fox News, and Bloomberg TV, Lindsay spotted inefficiencies in the ways that newsrooms covered breaking news and sought out to change them. Together with co-founder Brian McNeil, Lindsay launched Stringr in 2014.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Ialways wanted to be a broadcast journalist and spent the first 12 years of my career working for primarily national news organizations including ABC, FNC, and Bloomberg. When I founded Stringr I was working for ABC and thought there had to be a faster way to source video from the field. Fast forward to today and Stringr has more than 100k videographers responding to real-time requests. We also have built the most efficient video production platform that allows teams to work seamlessly in the cloud to source, transcribe, edit, caption video — whether it’s live or taped. And we also have a great internal news and custom content production team under the Embed Studios banner.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Stringr has really changed the way video is sourced and produced. Our technology connects creators with talent around the globe as well as allows teams to work collaboratively, whether they’re in a studio, the field, or — these days — in their pajamas. Need video from Omaha? It’s a click of a button. How about a live shot on the beach in Hawaii? Another click. Want a full transcript of an interview you just captured live on the Stringr platform? Just press a button. So much of video production used to be completed in-studio, but with our platform, you can source anything, collaborate with colleagues on an edit and publish from anywhere. The power of cloud-based tech with the largest global network of videographers.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I forgot to hit the submit button for my Trademark application and a little later someone else claimed they had the rights to the mark. Not exactly funny, but pretty boneheaded. I make sure to hit submit now when generating new lines of business for the company.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I have so many people who have mentored me along the way. I am incredibly lucky.

  1. Jon Brady (Now with Sinclair) and Don Fair (I hired him! He now runs Embed.News, Stringr’s news service): These two were my bosses in the LA bureau at FNC. They taught me how to hold a good editorial meeting (all ideas allowed, but expect a vigorous debate.) They also worked me pretty hard — so now, no job can make me tired.
  2. Dan Schnur (UC Berkeley): Dan worked in politics for many years running communications for various campaigns. One of the messages he repeats over and over to his students — and in my case, a journalist who interviewed him a lot — is, “hang a lantern on it” meaning if you have a problem, talk about it openly and quickly, so that a swarm of speculation doesn’t consume you. I try to bring this mentality to problems at Stringr. Did we make a mistake with a partner? Call them, shine a light on it. Dedicate yourself to identifying the problem and then fixing it to the best of your ability.
  3. Ross Becker (Hubbard Broadcasting) — Ross was the first on-air “talent” I worked with. He taught me how to write a broadcast story and how to ask questions, but more importantly, he taught me how to listen and respond with better questions.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I’m pretty convinced that the only people who like speaking of disruption in a good light are journalists and VCs who also love to use the word “unicorn” a lot. I mean — even the old phrase — “change is good” is usually invoked within a context of uncertainty. So when you change or disrupt something that means you are changing people and the processes you hold dear. And don’t get me wrong: change needs to happen. But when you budge the status quo around — it’s a tough battle. You have to understand your customer. When I say that, I don’t mean just the executives who buy new products, I mean the people who will use your product. What makes them excited? What makes them scared? And if their excitement doesn’t outweigh their fear — tough times ahead. At the end of the day, we should be disruptive. Being disruptive is good when it’s constructive and serves a need that is being ignored.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“Building a business takes seven years.” — Lots of folks think or hear that building a company is an 18-month process. It’s not.

“Hang a lantern on it.” (again) At Stringr I say, point your finger at the problem, not another person — which is another way to say seeing an issue in plain light is the first step towards coming up with a solution or at the very least, not taking that path again.

“Push for the fast no.” In a world where everything is tough and you want to be accepted, and you want your company to succeed, sometimes you delay following up fearing “the no,” hoping you are going to get that yes. I’ve found that when raising capital, following up until someone says no — actually nets some unexpected yeses. This makes up for the Nos you thought would turn into yeses. There are a lot of those too.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We are taking our capabilities and putting them in the hands of more people creating video: brands, agencies, e-commerce. It’s incredible how many people want or need to tell their story, the story of their company, the story of their blender — with video.

We are also putting our tech stack in the hands of our customers. Want to shoot live video yourself? Do it with Stringr. Want to store, transcribe and resell your video? Do it with Stringr. Stringr isn’t just a service any longer, it’s a tech platform — it’s likely the most efficient video production tool.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I was an English major in college, and so lots of what I’ve read in the past has an impact on me. A couple of things come to mind: Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past.” Why? There’s a part where the main character wonders if a door handle appears to him as it does, because of his own perceptions. Esoteric right? Stay with me. Because of this book, I often ask myself, how much do my perceptions and biases impact how I view something? And for important decisions, I really try to step back from my intrinsic bias. That’s tough. But I try.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Just Do It. –Smart ad agency or creative that works with Nike. I have a bias for action and sometimes I make the wrong or too hasty a decision but I find pushing the ball forward is more important than being right all of the time.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Ha! Not sure if I am a person of great influence… but… I’d make education — especially at the junior high and high school levels — not only more accessible, but more supported. I’d try to figure out a way for communities to support each other better in this realm. They say it takes a village, I really believe that and I wish when it came to education, people like me had easier conduits for being of constructive help to the public education system. I believe that education and access to opportunity fuel equality more than anything.

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