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Liz Giorgi working on a video

Graduating just before the Great Recession proved to be an unexpected boon for Liz Giorgi (BA ’07). Unable to find a job, the journalism graduate from Mountain Iron, MN, started freelancing as a videographer, working for the Big Ten Network, Twin Cities Public Television, and Apartment Therapy, among other clients.

“It’s lucky I was a hustler,” says Giorgi.

Lucky indeed, for a dozen years later, Giorgi has hustled her way into founding two thriving businesses: the online video business Mighteor, and the brand new, rapidly exploding photo and video business, Soona.

Mighteor came about when Giorgi was doing digital strategy work for a Minneapolis based communications firm. One day, while trying in vain to find a video production company that could make Facebook videos, she thought, “I could do that.” And she did, in 2013 founding Mighteor, a company specializing in producing videos for the Internet.

Soon the industry boomed, with seemingly every company and institution in the nation needing constant video content to populate their social channels.

Before long, she and her Mighteor crew members—which now number 14—were making videos for Facebook, the Red Cross, the U of M, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, and many others.

Yet Giorgi remained dissatisfied. The average video still cost clients $20,000 and took eight to ten weeks to produce. Not every small company could afford that time and money, and even the larger ones were eager for a quicker, cheaper way to keep content fresh.

Enter Soona, a new company its founders call a “fast, casual content revolution.” Soona is the brainchild of Giorgi and partner Hayley Anderson, whom she hired in late 2015 to run Mighteor’s animation department.

The idea behind Soona is that companies crave quality photos and video, but they want them fast and cheap, and want to be able to choose for themselves which shots or footage to use.

Giorgi and Anderson were able to launch Soona in April 2019, and won $1.2 million in venture capital financing in May. They opened Soona’s Minneapolis storefront the same month, quickly followed by a Denver branch. Now, they have 17 employees working between the two cities.

“We help small companies compete with the giants of the world by generating beautiful custom photos and videos—fast,” says Giorgi.

But speed and cost aren’t the only revolutionary aspects of Soona. Gaining almost as much attention is the company’s “candor clause,” which requires investors to disclose if they or their employees have ever been accused of sexual assault or harassment.

Soona’s founders also support women by “treating them with dignity and paying them what they deserve,” says Giorgi. She is also committed to hiring full-time staff with good benefits, again unusual in this industry’s heavily freelance world.

“I’m on a real tear right now to use our business to advance equality. If we can nail establishing a great work community, the sky’s the limit as to what we can build.”

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An original version of this story appears in the winter issue of Minnesota Alumni, the magazine of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association.

https://twin-cities.umn.edu/node/364276
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
01/22/2020