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As Coronavirus Shuts Down Physical Businesses, Local Stock Footage Company Soars

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow,  Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Towers).

(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) While many Arlington businesses have been struggling, for local startup Storyblocks the pandemic been pushing more customers unable to get their own footage to their tech-enabled stock video service.

Storyblocks is a Courthouse-based startup that allows members to access a large library of royalty-free stock footage with photos, video and audio from contributors. It has proven to be especially popular with content creators stuck at home during the coronavirus crisis.

“The nice thing for us is, amidst the chaos, more people are depending on our service,” TJ Leonard, CEO of Storyblocks said. “People can’t go out and shoot their own content, but need to create content for their jobs.”

Leonard said the virus has forced people who would normally shoot their own video to find other sources, which is where Storyblocks comes in.

“The way we thought about coronavirus is that on a normal day, only so many people who wake up and say ‘I’m going to take a close look at content, expense and performance,’ but when something like this occurs, it forces that consideration,” Leonard said. “When we get a side by side comparison we come out ahead more often than not. Coronavirus has forced more people to think more actively about where they spend their money on.”

The company started in 2009 in Reston as Footage Firm, shipping stock footage through the mail on DVDs, but evolved and changed location as technology progressed. Over the last year, the company has seen continued growth.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Leonard said. “We’ve been investing in content and investing in our product. We’ve seen steady growth over the first part of the year before the pandemic but in general, we’re up about 50%. We’re seeing business growing with website traffic increased by slightly higher percentages.”

Leonard said that Storyblocks is trying to focus around providing the “best first experience” for new customers in hopes that they’ll stick around after the pandemic is over.

On the content generation side, Leonard said Storyblocks hasn’t had any issues with uploading new content to the website, though he credits that mainly to the pandemic giving the company time to sort through its backlog.

“We have six months of a backlog to work through,” Leonard said. “If the stay at home order goes longer than six months that could be an issue.”

As the company continues to grow, Leonard said his sights are on expanding into the international market. On the homefront, Leonard said Arlington remains a solid place for a tech startup headquarters.

“Being in Arlington has been incredible for attracting top talent,” Leonard said. “We put a ton of value on our team and on our culture. It’s a team that’s analytical and understands direct marketing. Being in Arlington has helped. It’s a diverse community and we are able to pull from Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia.”

Leonard added that he’s not worried about talent from his team, which is barely over 100 people, being poached by Amazon when the tech giant comes to town.

“Here, you’re not a cog in a machine,” Leonard said. “You have a chance to make a daily impact. We’re very rarely competing for the same type of individual.”

Photo courtesy Storyblocks

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