Why We Invested in Suite, the Cloud-Based Workstation for Creative Agencies
February 14, 2023
Leveling the Playing Field
As an investor, we at Bonfire are on the hunt for companies that have the very real potential to transform the way work is done in their customer base.
Of course, almost every software start-up claims to revolutionize their customers’ lives - but we all know that 99% of the time, that’s PowerPoint hyperbole at best. In my view, companies that change how people do their work and, as a result, build a very special place in their hearts, have an opportunity not just to be a great company but an iconic one that is leading a movement.
Suite is such a company. For the over 20,000 agencies that perform post-production work - ie, that is, the editing and turning of raw digital assets into consumable pieces of content (think movies, advertisements, etc.), their world is likely to change if Suite executes correctly - for the better.
You see, today, the vast majority of the industry has been held back and constrained by both the level of, and the location of, the physical computing hardware infrastructure they own. Producing these videos requires a ton of graphics work and computing power. The files are huge and almost impossible to email around. I know it might sound crazy to people who do not work in this industry, but this is commonly how work is done today:
- Agencies physically ship or transport large hard drives to production centers (studios)
- The studios are where all of the large and powerful servers are located
- Creative professionals must go into the studios to use these servers to do their work
- Even then, these same creatives are often waiting for files to render or waiting for their collaborators to finish working on their components before they can jump on and do their part
Now imagine where the industry is going - which is more and more high-end animation and graphics work (equates to even more powerful servers required) and the work-from-anywhere movement (equates to less local creative talent within proximity of physical studio locations) - and you can understand how this current setup is holding the entire industry back.
When our good friends at Range Ventures introduced us to Craig Hering, the CEO of Suite, for an advice call on pricing, we were very intrigued about what they were up to. We ignored that they were young and looked more comfortable on an ice hockey rink than toiling away at a startup. We were intrigued that Craig had seen success working at an agency and was inspired to change what he saw as a crazily inefficient workflow process for the hundreds of thousands of creatives employed at post-production agencies. We offered our advice and played it coy - i.e., give us a heads up when you are thinking of raising next. Fortunately, we built trust with Craig and the team, and they came to us first and last for their seed stage fund-raise.
Suite equips post-production teams with a blazing-fast cloud-based studio that scales to meet the demands of any project. All of their employees and contractors can access and collaborate on their work wherever they are. Moreover, there is no up-front cost. The studio is a pure utility-based offering that agencies pay for as they consume it. Suite dynamically scales up or down the computing power creatives need so they only pay for the power they actually need.
Sounds cool? It is.
This is what their customers said to us when we dug in, which made the investment a no-brainer:
“We could not afford to invest in high-end hardware ahead of a demand curve that is up and down, and no one is willing to loan them the capital to do so”
“Suite changes our ability to compete and grow our business which was constrained before by their own ability to invest in super expensive hardware”
“Suite’s performance, through an 8-year-old MacBook as the client, absolutely smoked a $30K workstation we had just built for an exec”
“Suite is seamless in how we use it - that we can switch computers and jump onto a higher power machine is game-changing. Something you can’t get on-premise”
“Suite allows us to hire the talent we need finally, whether full-time or on-contract, for each project completely independent of where people are located”
These last two quotes kinda clinched it for us:
“They should be put in jail because of how awesome this is”
“This whole thing right here feels like unicorn tears that do not really exist”
Net-net - each of these agencies love the company as it changes the dynamic of their operations and businesses. They can now focus on competing for any-sized project because they are no longer constrained by the amount of computing power they can afford. Additionally, they can tap into a much broader global talent pool because creatives can do their work and collaborate with others wherever they are located. Finally, they can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to complete work and deliver the final product to customers.
As such, agency heads can now direct their team to do what they love to do and why they are in the trade - focus on amazing creative work - and that is the type of value proposition from which iconic software companies are born.
We are fortunate that Suite has picked us to partner with them as they build the next great cloud company in the media production space.