Short Order Production House acquired by Bowstring
Founded in 2013 by Zach Phillips, Short Order has focused on long-form video productions, including material for internal use and external marketing by companies. It notably produced a national ad spot for internet browser DuckDuckGo in 2019, and last year won a regional Emmy for its documentary produced by New Castle County on the launch of The Hope Center.
As it has grown, however, Short Order hit an inflection point where it would need to invest or partner up to begin seeking larger projects. In the end, it turned to Conshohocken, Pa.-based Bowstring, whose founders Enrique Mendoza and Sean Quinn had befriended Phillips back before the pandemic and floated the idea of a deal.
On June 6, the two private companies closed the acquisition, creating a merged workforce of about 38. Short Order will retain its branding as a Bowstring company, and benefit from its back-office support and technology investments, said Matt Sullivan, the former chief operating officer at Short Order and now vice president of growth for Bowstring.
“They’re a much larger company and the technology is different, but the ethos of the two companies is very similar in the way we approach jobs and the way we work with clients,” Sullivan told Delaware Business Times.
Quinn said that Bowstring was excited to work with Short Order in expanding in Delaware, as they had mainly crossed paths in Philadelphia-area projects to date.
One of Bowstring’s biggest focuses is its value-added product, StoryCycle, which helps a client plan out a longer campaign of content while increasing efficiency and reducing unexpected costs.
“Rather than everything being really reactive and ad hoc, if you can plan out over a year or 18 months you start to see real synergies of combining production days, reusing content, or trying not to come out to reinterview the same person twice in a month, which happens all the time,” Quinn said.
While Bowstring does have strong client relationships in the pharmaceutical, financial services, and consumer packaged goods industries, Quinn said they primarily seek out clients who value content. It takes on a variety of projects, for instance its latest schedule included a $5,000 short-term project and a $1.7 million project across multiple countries.
The larger workforce under Bowstring will give Short Order the ability to pitch bigger projects, Sullivan said.
“There’s a couple of clients we’ve had over the years where we started with them and then they just got too big; and we couldn’t have the same conversations anymore. I’m excited to go back to them now,” he noted.
While Sullivan will remain in Delaware along with some team members, the future of Short Order’s Orange Street studio in downtown Wilmington remains to be determined. While the space, owned by Phillips, has two fully functioning television studios, the agency has seen little demand from clients for the space.
“The pandemic really rewrote the book on where video production takes place now,” Sullivan said, noting that more productions are being requested to be filmed outside or on location.
While the pandemic has helped drive more consumers to their phones and computers where they watch video content, it’s counterintuitively also produced some industry challenges, Sullivan said. Notably, everyone has become accustomed to videoconferencing, and now Zoom-quality video is often sufficient for clients.
“We used to host Sen. Chris Coons at our studio for interviews on CNN, but we ended up closing it because he switched to Zoom calls,” Sullivan noted.