Once upon a time, not so long ago, entrepreneur Jeff Fritz stumbled across a California company creating online videos for local restaurants. These videos, which showed each restaurant’s ambience and included conversations with the chef, were so effective that he wanted to try some of the dining options himself. That convinced Fritz to do something more than eat out.
In 2008, Fritz founded Golden Valley–based Storyworks Media, which produces videos designed to help consumers understand the often complex health and retirement benefits that their employers offer.
The video stories, which typically run about 40 seconds, feature people who discuss why they’ve chosen a particular benefit and how it has worked for them. Storyworks attaches brief video “bumpers” to the front and back ends of the stories to customize them for each employer, creating a final product that can be viewed in about 60 seconds. The videos are delivered through an e-mail containing a link to a host server that has the videos on file.
Each video story is cataloged according to the demographics of the storyteller—age, sex, race, income bracket, and so on—so that prospective consumers can hear the stories from their virtual peers, as it were. “Authentic, first-person stories are a really powerful way to share information,” Fritz says.
After a pilot project with Storyworks received rave reviews, Roseland, New Jersey–based Automated Data Processing contracted with the firm to market health-related savings accounts to a large cross section of its clients. Several other clients have followed suit: Storyworks videos are being viewed by millions around the country.
Fritz—who also is the managing principal of Cahill Adams, a Golden Valley consulting firm for new businesses—is the founder of seven companies in what he likes to call the “health- and wealth-management space.” The most recent of these is Lighthouse1, a Minnetonka-based firm that supplies Web-based account management software to health care administrators. (Fritz sold his interest in Lighthouse1 in 2008.)
Storyworks’ first-year revenues totaled “a few hundred thousand” according to Fritz. He expects Storyworks to break the million-dollar mark for 2010. “We haven’t even touched things like the 401(k) market,” Fritz says. “I think there’s going to be a pretty steep demand for our services going forward.”