Storytelling at its finest

Flow Media, a storytelling-focused media company based out of Cedar Rapids, is creating stories differently. Their goal is to focus on positive and honest content that changes the way people think and feel. Gabe Erickson, the Chief Executive Officer of Flow Media, got the idea for this innovative approach to storytelling when he noticed a disconnect between marketing and public relations and crafting human stories.

“Flow Media was developed out of a frustration with how local stories were told and how marketing messages came across,” Erickson said. “We thought there has to be a more evocative, authentic way to capture stories that will allow people to truly get to know each other and their communities. There also has to be a more genuine way of reaching audiences without treating them like an object. Stories were our answer.”

Flow Media has proved that a new approach to marketing messages is necessary. Since their start, they have created captivating materials for a large number of local business and organizations – Iowa Women Lead Change, Brewhemia, Iowa Creative Corridor, Operation Overnight, and many more. The video team claims Iowa Women Lead Change as one of their favorite projects to date because it emerged from several brainstorm sessions. Although there were quite a few disagreements about the video making process, it ultimately led to the realization that the team members are all more creative when they brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other. This project helped the team find their process for brainstorming about future projects.

What they learned in Venture School

Flow Media found their start in the 2015 cohort of University of Iowa’s Venture School, a statewide program that emphasizes real-world, innovation-based entrepreneurship. For Flow Media, the decision to join Venture School was an easy one. Venture School was the best way for the team to build a business and challenge themselves to figure out what they were going to create and how we would make money from it. The experience not only taught them these vital points about their business, but also introduced many concepts that they would not have known about otherwise.

“Venture School taught us to back up our decisions with actual research and findings from customer discovery,” says Erickson. “Every single interview with a customer helped clarify our vision and how we would execute as a business. Without Venture School, we would be making big decisions based solely on feelings and not a true understanding of our customers’ wants and needs.”

Picturing the future

As the company looks ahead, there are some exciting (and secret!) projects in the works. One clear theme is the company’s success in the Corridor, which has motivated the team to consider growing to fill needs in other cities. Courtney Ball, the Chief Story Officer, explains, “We’re in serious talks about expanding to other markets like Chicago. The trick will be to make sure we maintain the soul of our company as we grow. We’re artists and explorers at heart, so whatever we do will have to continue to feed our souls.”