Media Entrepreneur Constantin Bjerke is the Founder and CEO of Crane.tv a story-telling company, which in 2011 was named a "Top 10 European start-up to watch in 2011" by the Wall Street Journal.
Constantin has over a decade of experience working in television and film production including branded content development with clients such as the FIFA World Cup, Mercedes Benz, Laureus World Sports Awards and Orascom.
Q: You started your media career in television and film production, at what point did you decide that you wanted to go it alone and start your own business?
A: I always knew that I wanted to run my own media company. Every decision I have made throughout my career has been with that goal in mind. The experience I gained working in television and film production, together with my background in business and finance has proved invaluable over the years and to start my own storytelling company Crane.tv
Q: What made you decide to enter into the online, rather than the offline publishing world?
A: I felt that there was a gap in the market for truly engaging digital storytelling and I strongly believe that culture should be made more accessible, entertaining and meritocratic and the best way to do that is in videos online, not in another print title. Since the launch of the online video magazine we have taken the concept even further, moving into the branded content sphere. We wanted to lead the way in the transition between a campaign-driven and an editorially-driven marketing world, and we seem to be doing this across our various online platforms.
Q: How easy was it to transform your initial idea into a business?
A: As soon as I embarked on the journey I was up against challenge after challenge; the obstacles are relentless when you are first starting out. Perseverance and a hunger to see the vision come to life kept me going.
Q: The digital media and publishing industry is a notoriously competitive one, what made you believe that Crane.tv could be a commercial success?
A: No one is really pushing the boundaries in cultural publishing. Crane.tv is doing something original in that we dedicate ourselves rigorously to video. Video is not a supplement to our editorial content, it is the number one priority. We know since the sale of YouTube that a lot of value is being placed on digital video content and we are feeling an increase in demand from a variety of brands, everyone wants to become a broadcaster but they do not necessarily have the means to do this alone. This is where Crane.tv holds court.
Q: How did you set about marketing Crane.tv?
A: The quality of the videos market themselves in most cases but we have also worked hard to partner with like-minded brands and outlets from the Design Museum to Wallpaper.com to Archdaily.com. We took things offline at the beginning of the year and curated a room at St Martins Lane hotel in London. For one month we hosted a series of events and private views, working with both established and emerging artists to transform the space on an almost daily basis. It was an exciting time and a great way to show off our talents.
Q: What have been the biggest challenges that you have faced so far?
A: Making others understand and believe in the company, finding the right team of people, keeping things fresh and innovative - these are constant challenges. You have to learn to love the pressure.
Q: What would you say are the three most important characteristics that an individual must possess in order to be a success in business?
A: Perserverence, optimism, and the ability to learn quickly.
Q: What advice would you give to businesses that may be struggling in the current economic climate?
A: Evaluate yourself and your business ruthlessly. If you really believe you can make it, persevere. If you have doubts or the numbers don’t add up, fail fast and move on.
Q: If you could give future entrepreneurs three pieces of advice, what would they be?
A: Be honest, be curious, take every opportunity to meet people and listen and learn.
Q: What are the main advantages of being your own boss?
A: The independence, driving a creative force and the gift of being able to turn your own vision into reality.
Q: What are some of the disadvantages?
A: There is no one to blame but yourself if things go wrong, and there is certainly no switching off when it's your own business.
Q: What are your plans for the business moving forward?
A: The plan is to continue to grow and keep pushing boundaries. We want to bring something new to every project that we work on whether it be new technology, people or approaches. We also want to solidify our presence in new markets for us such as the US and South America.