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Philippe LeBlanc is Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Funday Agency, a full-service branding and advertising agency. Built of industry veterans and entrepreneurs, the agency believes there’s always fun to be had solving brand problems. Before Funday, Philippe was Co-founder and CEO of Flixel, a Toronto-based startup with creative tools for visual storytelling. The software enables photographers, videographers, and digital marketers to tell mesmerizing stories using a unique visual medium known as cinemagraphs, which blends photo and video.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [03:33] Philippe LeBlanc talks about the power of storytelling in business and entrepreneurship
  • [06:33] Growing Flixel Photos through storytelling
  • [09:33] Flixel Photos’ customer success stories
  • [12:06] Philippe shares the lessons learned from the challenges faced by his startup
  • [10:07] The importance of having co-founders who share your vision
  • [19:47] The transition from Flixel to starting Funday Agency
  • [26:54] Tips for attracting and retaining top talent and clients
  • [35:37] Philippe explains how they instill culture in a remote environment
  • [40:01] How Funday helps clients tell their stories

In this episode…

It’s no secret that storytelling is a powerful tool in business and entrepreneurship. Telling a compelling story can captivate an audience and leave a lasting impression. Whether it’s a brand story, a personal journey, or a product pitch, communicating effectively through storytelling can make all the difference in achieving success.

Serial entrepreneur Philippe LeBlanc says that stories have the power to create an emotional connection with people. They allow us to relate to others, empathize with their struggles, and celebrate their triumphs. In business, this emotional connection can translate into customer loyalty, increased sales, and a powerful brand reputation. A well-crafted story can inspire and motivate employees, investors, and partners. Philippe shares how they’ve built an agency through fun to help brands tell their stories.

In this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz chats with Philippe LeBlanc, Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Funday Agency, about storytelling in business. Philippe talks about the power of storytelling in business and entrepreneurship, growing Flixel Photos through storytelling, lessons learned from the challenges faced by his startup. He also discusses the process of creating Funday Agency and how it helps clients tell their stories.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Quotable Moments:

  • “The most powerful person in the room is the storyteller.”
  • “As humans, we share experiences through story and it’s really important to connect on an emotional level.”
  • “You will always have hard times, not all the time, but you will have hard times; it doesn’t matter how successful you are in any business.”
  • “You need to surround yourself with the right people.”
  • “Your margin is my opportunity.”
  • “Your culture is our opportunity.”

Sponsor for this episode

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPOEOLending TreeFreshdesk, and many more.

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:01 

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz 0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. Philippe LeBlanc of Funday, you can check them out, Funday Agency. And Phil, I always like to point out other episodes, people should check out the podcast. You guys do beautiful storytelling, you have beautiful design. One of the episodes I did was with the co-founder of Pixar. And he talked about some of the original days starting Pixar he talked about George Lucas Steve Jobs, incredible stories around that. And he was before his time, so he had to wait for the technology to catch up to even create Toy Story. So check that episode out. Also, because it’s part of the top agency series, I did an episode or two with Jason Swenk. Jason built up his agency to over eight figures and sold it. And now he’s been buying up agencies in growing that way, which is interesting. And he has a group where he helps agency owners grow as well. And we talked about valuation and the whole landscape there, that was great. Also, Todd Taskey. Todd Taskey has a Second Bite Podcast. He pairs private equity with agencies and finds that sometimes in the agency sell to private equity. They make more on the second bite than they do on the first. So it’s interesting again, the landscape of valuations and business development and growth and M&A. And we’re gonna have some conversations probably around bootstrapping versus raising money with a ties into this because because Phil has a lot of knowledge on that. Before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 and at Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships. And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch, you’re on a podcast and we do strategy, the accountability and the full execution. Phil, we call ourselves the magic elves that run in the background and make it look easy for the hosts in the company to great create content and create great relationships. So for me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people in companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should have questions go to And I’m excited to introduce Phil LeBlanc, he co-founded and serves as Co-CEO of Funday Agency. And Funday Agency, wow, Phil, you got amazing growth. They’ve grown to more than 60 employees. They have high-profile clients. Some I can’t even mention. Sara Belly, Arla Foods, 7-11, and many more. And before this, he actually ran Flixel Photos for over 10 years. They raised $8 million in funding and achieved the top downloads spot on the Mac App Store. And he’s also innovated and advertising by pioneering the cinemagraph you have to tell people what that is. But Phil, thanks for joining me.

Philippe LeBlanc 3:17 

Well, thanks for having me.

Jeremy Weisz 3:20 

Funday Agency, which we’ll talk about, it goes back to you telling your story in a video from Flixel. And talk about what happened with that?

Philippe LeBlanc 3:33 

Well, so I am a big believer in the power of storytelling. I think Steve Jobs said that the most powerful person in the room is the storyteller. He always talked about — it’s funny, you mentioned Pixar earlier on, because that book is full about, it’s everything around storytelling, and I love their book. And Steve Jobs himself was talking about how Disney almost had the monopoly on storytelling, and he didn’t like that he wanted to kind of take that back. And I mentioned it because another book that I read, which was quite interesting was The Power of Story, and it was all around “whoever tells the best story wins.” And it always stuck with me that as humans, we share experiences through story and it’s really important to connect on an emotional level. Don’t just tell a story that has facts, but bring the highs, the lows, make them feel, make your audience feel and that’s why we love watching movies, right? That’s how our society kind of, in a big way, imparts knowledge and how we kind of do things as a society. And in the world of advertising. We do a lot of that right. That’s the power of storytelling. We just do it. then kind of micro-content and 30-second ads and all the rest. So I say that because I want to bring the audience to understand that was kind of the mindset. And when we were running Flixel, around year six, this for 10 years, we were running out of money, which was a constant, you know, in the startup world. And we can talk a little bit more about that. But product businesses, we just need to look at the world of Fortune five, you know, the stock market right now, tons of companies aren’t profitable, it’s really hard to be profitable when you are a product business. And so you need to raise capital. And I always tell other founders, like when you are raising to VCs, at the end of the day, they will still buy mostly, and then rationalize what they bought, just like we all do, in everything else we buy, it’s no different. Now you have to still have the metrics and all the rest. And so what we did, and if you go in the company section of where you’re going, and you scroll down, you will see that story that we’re talking about you continue scrolling down as the Flixel startups do.

Jeremy Weisz 6:25 

So if you’re listening, there is a video. And we’re looking at and the company page, and we’re looking at the video, and there’s Tyra Banks.

Philippe LeBlanc 6:33 

And so the idea was we have this amazing product that does cinemagraphs — very visual. Let’s do a story around the making of our company. So that investor sees all the challenges we went through over the years, and how we’re trying to build a new visual storytelling medium. And so we knew we had a lot of great V roles over the years. And then so what we did is, for a week, we sat down, we wrote the storyline, we filmed that edited it. And then we put it out, it’s like a five-minute type of type five-minute video. And the results were incredible. In a few weeks, we actually raised over a million dollars, one investor in particular, we never even talk to them directly. They just watched the video, and they wrote us a half-a-million-dollar check. They were in Australia. And so just to show the power of storytelling, because everything was conveyed in it, the resiliency, the mission of the company, where we’re going, what we faced in the past, the opportunity, but we did it in an emotional way. We then just use facts and stats and all the rest, we conveyed the story. And then of course, you send the deck wood, which has more of the facts. But this is something I tell startup founders, as a mentor of Tech Stars and founder Institute is always lean into your story. Because most founders, they have an incredible story of why they’re doing their business. And they don’t tell it, they don’t communicate it. And that’s a lost opportunity. And so, one thing we love at Funday is working with CEOs and because they get to tell their story to us. And we get to convey this into their products and infuse that, of course, we don’t always take their origin story, so to speak, but we get to understand the personality, the DNA of the founders, and what they are trying to ultimately accomplish with their products or services. And it is a superpower that folks need to lean in more. And it’s something that you need to develop, I believe I’m a big believer in it. It’s not something that you’re necessarily born with. But we’re all kind of storytellers, so to speak. And we need to tell our specific story. So probably lingered on a little bit too long.

Jeremy Weisz 9:28 

So we’re just Tyra Banks fit into the picture with this.

Philippe LeBlanc 9:33 

Well, you’ll have to watch the video. But the idea of, the story the well what happened just kind of in a nutshell is we started the software called the company’s Flixel and it’s called Cinemagraph Pro and we actually there’s another video behind that story too, now that you bring it up. So what happened is we launched a few weeks after our competitor — we’re behind. It was hot, it was a race. And we were behind, we’re running out of money this was early on. But we did a video as one of the launching pads, we did a few different videos. So the storytelling kind of runs throughout the history. And Tyra Banks had seen the video. And she loved it. And she saw that this was an opportunity to use cinemagraphs for her show America’s Next Top Model. And so she saw the video, we were running out of money, where we’re close to shutting down, she calls us. And she effectively says, “I want to integrate this with our show, I want to be an investor.” And then we managed to get a bunch of other investors along with that. And it was throughout the cycle 20 of America’s Next Top Model, it’s all cinemagraph shoots, so using our technology. So that really kind of brought us into another level as you can imagine. And that led to more partnerships and more opportunity, meaning Panasonic and other really the photography, landscape, and then brands, and then actually that launched Flixel Studios, which was us doing production work using the cinemagraph as a lead in for campaigns. And so that was kind of the birth of two parts of our business, which was one doing production work, cinemagraph campaigns, and then the other selling the software for everyone to be accessible to use.

Jeremy Weisz 11:38 

What’s some of the, again, there’s a lot of ups and downs in the startup, right? And you mentioned being on the brink of now collapsing maybe too much for like running out of money. And then you get this customer who then also is an investor as well. What were some of the challenges and tough times that you now bring to Funday with your experience?

Philippe LeBlanc 12:06 

Yeah, I mean, I talked about resiliency, it’s something that’s been talked about a lot in the world of business. It’s absolutely critical to have resiliency and you have to have belief in what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, it goes back to your story, it goes back to why are you, what’s making you want to bring this into the world. Because in the hard times, and you will always have hard times, not all the time, but you will have hard times it doesn’t matter how successful you are in any business. If you know your reason of why you started this, it’s a lot easier if you still believe in it to be resilient. And so you need that resiliency. In addition to that, I think you need to surround yourself with the right people. I think that is also critical because it’s a lot less lonely. When you have the right people around you, it’s still gonna be lonely as a founder. But when you do have co-founders that share your vision, that’s super important. I’ve never started a company alone. Always with co-founders, I am always amazed to the founders that can do it solo, because it’s a lonely journey. And I think it’s easier to be resilient and to pull yourself together. Now, that being said, it’s also easy to get into infighting as well. So you also have to hence you got to pick your co-founders, right, and you need to make sure you’re aligned. And people do change, too. So that’s another kind of variable in the mix. So there’s a lot to unpack, I guess, on…

Jeremy Weisz 13:55 

How did you meet your co-founders? Because I know you work with them and Flixel and then I think you work with on Funday as well. You must have liked him enough, Phil to continue.

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