When Nick Mattingly started Switcher Studio, his commitment to building the company forced him to go two years without a paycheck.
Now, as the CEO, he runs a company that eclipsed $1 million in revenue in 2018, was named a Top 50 startup by Google and has users in over 115 countries around the world. The Louisville-based tech company has come a long way in five years, as Mattingly once struggled to attract clients, and he now works with Cracker Barrel, The Golf Channel, Honda, World Wrestling Entertainment, BBC Sport and many other high-profile companies.
“It’s just incredible to see how many people we’ve touched with this, and I think there’s a huge opportunity — there’s never going to be less video,” Mattingly said. “It’s going to be more and more important to stand out, I think to some extent we are envisioning a world that doesn’t exist yet, where every business is going to be required to communicate with video.
“But we’re not just going to wait for that to happen, we’re going to help make that happen,” he added.
Switcher Studio describes itself as a mobile video streaming platform that gives its users the ability to broadcast live video from their devices and edit it on the fly with graphical elements, photos, videos, transitions and more.
“With Switcher, the idea is that you can use mobile devices you already have — iPhones and iPads — and you can edit while you shoot,” Mattingly said. “So, as it’s happening, as it’s unfolding, you’re making those decisions for what you want to show. You can put your logo on-screen, or a title, or a call to action, or some sort of photo or video even.”
The service looks to simplify streaming capabilities into an easy-to-use app, rather than forcing people to go out and buy tons of cameras and equipment, as well as editing software, to make productions themselves. It also allows users to stream from multiple devices and pick which camera angle they want to use.
Mattingly is well aware of the complications that arise with companies trying to do live video with expensive equipment. Before starting Switcher, he and his Switcher co-founder, Dan Petrik, ran an agency that did video for companies, and many times the cost would keep potential clients from becoming very interested.
“A lot of people get excited about that, but then they see the sticker price, and it ended up being a lot of equipment, it was really complicated for them to do it on their own, and so they either would stick with doing no video, outsourcing video, or there’d be a big lag between when they made the decision of ‘we want to do this’ and when they could actually do it,” Mattingly said.
They were looking to get people to commit easier, and they connected with Gabe Mondada in Switzerland, who had caught their eye because of what he was doing with mobile video. They partnered with him as a technical co-founder to launch a beta version of Switcher in 2014.
“We charged real money for it, which was — if an app’s not free, or more than a dollar, people move on,” Mattingly said of the beta. “We charged a subscription in 2014 and had some early interest.”
Switcher currently has three subscription options: Personal ($29/month, billed annually or $39 month-to-month), professional ($49/month, billed annually or $75 month-to-month) and Switcher for teams ($5,000/year).
Once they got the company started, Mattingly was then faced with a decision, and he decided to take on as much responsibility as he could in getting Switcher off the ground.
“I decided to go all-in, so I went two years without a paycheck,” he said. “We were bootstrapped, self-funded, and in 2016 we restructured the company so that we could bring more people on and do a relaunch of the product.”
Mattingly said that the early years of the company’s life haven’t always been easy, especially before business started taking off the way it has now.
“There were times where I questioned if it was worth it, where I almost backed out, but I also had a lot of other people that had helped support this, and other founders that helped us get where we were,” he said. “We had some customers that were using this thing, and at some point, it wasn’t about me anymore.”
Mattingly said that when clients began to use the live video, the customers of those businesses came to expect that content, and there was a “ripple effect” that drove him to continue on with the business.
Another thing that has made it easier is family support, Mattingly said. His wife, Whitney Mattingly, supported his efforts and eventually joined the company. She’s now Switcher’s marketing and operations manager.
“This is a big part of my identity and it deserves a lot of attention and it’s hard to put on pause,” Mattingly said. “So, I think we’re really fortunate that we’re able to work on this together and be collaborative and when we do talk about it we move it forward. So that’s been really cool, I always joke that Whitney was my first investor because she let me be crazy and do this.”
The commitment has paid off. In addition to the million-dollar year that Mattingly said the company had in 2018, he also said the company is “on pace to blow that out of the water for 2019.”
And Whitney Mattingly seems to enjoy the work as much as her husband does.
“It’s a really collaborative environment,” she said. “I really like working here, I like the team that we’ve built, and I don’t ever feel weird about coming in or don’t want to come into work, because I love the people I work with, and we all work together really well.”
Part of Switcher’s success has come thanks to a global customer base. The company has customers around the world, which can lead to complications when it comes to customer service and support.
“There are so many people and so many languages that I see just on a daily basis,” said Angela Holbrook, Switcher’s community coordinator. “Spanish and French are super common, I get Portuguese, I get Chinese, I get Thai, Italian, there’s just so many, so I’m constantly running things through Google Translate and then typing back in Google Translate.”
As their base continues to expand, Mattingly said that some people actually are surprised when they find out Switcher is based in Louisville.
“I think there’s this expectation that technology companies have to be in San Francisco, or New York, or L.A., or like a coastal city, and we’re accidentally international, or global, in our customer base in that we have customers all over the world,” he said. “We’re truly international in that we have a Swiss office.”
They also have their head of sales team member in Seattle, as well as team members working remotely in Austin, Texas.
But even as their base continues to expand, some of their strongest supporters are their customers in Louisville.
Jay Pitts, a real estate agent in the Louisville area, uses Switcher to host a pair of podcasts — the (Re)source Podcast and the Our502 Podcast — on his Facebook page. Pitts said he heard about Switcher from another local businessman and has enjoyed using it.
“We can very easily produce something that looks very highly produced,” Pitts said. “It makes so much sense in so many ways. It makes use of what you have, and it requires no equipment purchase.”
Work the Metal, a clothing, accessories and decor shop in Louisville, also uses Switcher for occasional shows on its Facebook page. Valerie Terry, the director of marketing and social media at Work the Metal, said that she learned about Switcher through a class that the company was putting on. She said that Work the Metal didn’t have the budget to use Switcher at the time, but they’ve been pleased since making the jump.
“We were doing them on our own because Switcher had a membership and we were trying to save money,” she said. “But we finally decided to jump on board and it’s amazing. There’s a huge difference. You can do some really cool effects and transitions.”
Switcher certainly isn’t the only company or software that provides the editing capabilities it does, and Mattingly noted that. There are far more well-established video editing and production options like Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and some more basic options like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie.
However, Switcher’s capabilities to edit live video on the fly put the software in rarified air, especially considering that it’s done through an app on mobile devices.
Switcher’s goals continue to change as technology becomes more innovative. As a software company, they’re always looking to take advantage of everything they can do with the latest hardware. However, in the big picture, Mattingly’s goal stays the same.
“We’re going to change the way people think about making video,” he said, “and make that a lot easier and more accessible.”