Agency News

The Star Tribune featured ilos Videos, our client, on September 7th:

Ilos Videos, a start-up in St. Paul, looks to build on early success

By Neal St. Anthony

Star Tribune featured ilos Videos

Nick Stokman and Sean Higgins, co-founders of ilos Videos.

Nick Stokman and Sean Higgins are a couple of 24-year-old accounting graduates of the University of St. Thomas who concluded early that they didn’t want to be accountants.

Stokman, who won an academic accounting award for his prowess while a student, recalls a painful internship at Travelers in St. Paul. He was working on corporate tax returns.

“It’s a conservative insurance company and totally different from my personality,” said Stokman, who can be irreverent and off the wall. “And I had to learn this accounting software. And clicking on the ‘help’ thing to learn this or that was totally useless. Things that can be super simple to understand can be really complicated in text.

“And I’d go to my manager, and he said that the hardest part of bringing on new people was answering the same questions.”

Stokman had an idea for a company in 2012 that, after two years of development with client companies and collaborators, launched commercial operations in January as Ilos Videos.

Ilos makes software and provides support to a growing list of 30 companies in North America and the United Kingdom who want customized videos demonstrating routine tasks such as how to put a new record in or add a personal contact into, how to change account information or pay bills, or how to use the software used by ResDiary on priority seating for customers in 3,000 restaurants.

Ilos employs 12 full- and part-time employees and will post revenue under $500,000 this year, Higgins said.

“We have 20,000 users, including some free users, and people use Ilos to create short videos of ‘frequently asked questions,’ ” he said. “We make software that enables clients to communicate the things they know to employees to vendors and users of their products.

“One of our customers is Atterro [Human Capital Group]. They use ilos software for bringing on new employees. Lots of employees. And each person needs to know about timecards, expense reports, how to file for time off.”

Stokman, also a software jockey, is a self-described ADHD kid, who also was dyslexic and couldn’t read until he was 12.

He also is a genial guy who can be obsessive about work. His greatest joy, he said, is helping people, including spending weeks with his physician dad on medical-volunteer missions when he was young. Stokman was a youth entrepreneur who earned college tuition working obsessively on his own lawn service, starting when he was in high school.

And he also spearheaded a $100,000 fundraiser for a skateboard park in his hometown of Crosby, Minn. That helped settle friction between kids who wanted a place to practice and authorities who didn’t want them on private property or in the street.

“Nick is brilliant and all over the walls, the ceiling, everywhere,” said Higgins, who earned an MBA and is the calm, plain-talking face of this outfit. “He’s come to me with entrepreneurial ideas over the years. I’ve shot some down. Nick has lots of ideas. Ilos was a good one. My goal is to harness the power of Nick.”

Higgins said when Stokman told him about his idea for Ilos, he headed to Google to look for companies doing the same thing.

“We saw a lot of gaps. We didn’t see one player doing specifically what we wanted to do. It’s not YouTube, and it’s not editing software. We thought we could develop a ‘lightweight video functionality’ without big production costs in a corporate studio. But software that could enable you to communicate tasks and processes faster than anything available.”

Ilos, a Greek word Stokman and Higgins interpret as “search” as a definition, was born in their apartments.

In recent years, they would rent short-term space at cooperative-workspace Coco in downtown to impress prospective partners and clients for meetings. Several months ago the company, with revenue starting to flow, leased unfinished space in a refurbished St. Paul Lowertown warehouse. The employees work from folding chairs and tables. Frisbees and Nerf balls often sail through the air.

“We don’t have a lot of overhead,” said Higgins, including minuscule salaries so far. “We’re reinvesting in the business, and we won’t break even until next year.”

The company has raised about $500,000 in equity and is owned largely by employees, individual “angel” investors who take stakes in promising upstarts, and the Norris Institute at the University of St. Thomas. Mike Moore, who runs the Norris Institute, which invests in young, innovative concerns said Norris has a stake of about $100,000 in ilos.

Moore said he found that ilos customers “saw this as away to cut training time and reduce expenses.

“It applies to any kind of organization,” Moore said. “We have faculty who use it for courses for students they know will have problems with certain parts of the curriculum. Rather than talking them through again and again … here’s the software.”


Snow Communications is pleased to have provided PR services to RJF, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company in Minneapolis, for the past several years. RJF is a risk-prevention organization dedicated to helping businesses proactively reduce risk by anticipating the needs of its people and assets. Snow provides strategic communications planning, message development and media relations support to RJF professionals whose clients operate in a variety of industries across the Midwest.

One such professional is PK Kriha, Senior Vice President, Employee Benefits. “PK is an effective, resourceful advisor to her clients, and an inspiration to her colleagues,” said Joshua Schneck, CEO of Snow Communications. “Her passion for delivering employee benefits solutions to her clients is a tremendous asset to RJF.”

Ms. Kriha became a shareholder at RJF in 2009, after only six years with the company. She was praised by RJF’s CEO Bill Jeatran at the time of her promotion. “In her six years at RJF, PK has shown the character and leadership that we look for in our shareholders,” said Jeatran. “She truly represents our values and core beliefs, respects her team and co-workers as equals, and has shown consistent sales success.”

We are privileged to work with an industry leader like RJF’s PK Kriha. If your business needs help with managing risk, benefits or insurance needs, be sure to contact her.

Snow Communications recently posted a new case study that showcases our government relations capabilities. Click here to read about our work with Wolters Kluwer Health – Clinical Solutions.

Minneapolis, October 2, 2012 – Snow Communications, a Minneapolis-based public relations and marketing agency, today announced that it has once again partnered with Free Bikes 4 Kidz, whose mission is to provide free bicycles to those most in need in the Twin Cities. Snow Communications will provide communications, media relations and social media support to help build on the momentum that’s already emergent for the non-profit organization.

“We are thrilled to once again be able to lend our support on a pro bono basis to such a worthy cause,” said CEO and founder Joshua Schneck. “Everyone should know the joy that comes with owning and riding their own bike. Free Bike 4 Kidz has a fantastic mission and we are glad to help.”

To achieve its goals, Free Bikes 4 Kidz invites communities to donate quality used bikes that are then cleaned, refurbished, and distributed through multiple kid-friendly organizations to children and adults in need. The organization expects to receive and distribute several thousand bikes to Minnesota families in need this holiday season. In 2011, over 5,000 bikes were donated – a marked increase from the 1,500 bikes in 2010, 750 in 2009 and 300 in 2008. Last year, Free Bikes 4 Kidz became the largest single distributor of free bikes in the United States. This is the second annual partnership between Snow Communications and Free Bikes 4 Kidz.

About Snow Communications
Founded in 1985, Snow Communications provides public relations and marketing services for clients in a variety of industries including healthcare, technology, law, food and others. Snow Communications is a privately held company headquartered in Minneapolis. For more information, please call 612-337-0747 or visit

About Free Bikes 4 Kidz
Free Bikes 4 Kidz is a not-for-profit organization geared toward helping all kids ride into a happier, healthier childhood by providing bikes to those most in need. More information can be found at

No matter how much the business world changes with the advancement of technology, one aspect remains unchanged – the informational interview. I empathize with recent college graduates who not only face student loan debt, but also have to break into the job market at a time when the national unemployment rate continues to stay above eight percent. More young adults are jockeying for the same positions in an effort to simply “break in” to their field of interest.

This past summer we had a handful of college students stop by the office for informational interviews. We always delight in the proactive efforts of young adults that are still in school but who are also looking ahead to make sure that they are taking the right classes and courses that will set them up for future success. With that in mind, here are some tips for making the most of any  informational interview.

1. Do a little homework. (Not a lot, just a little.) Since this is not a formal interview for an actual hirable position, the conversation can be more general but be sure to read up about the industry and the company you are visiting. Demonstrate that you’ve put in some effort before walking in the door, and you will not only leave a lasting impression, but it shows you are serious and making a concerted effort to educate yourself outside of the classroom.

2. Guide the discussion. Don’t be afraid to ask a “dumb” question – this is the time to do it. It’s wise to prepare and bring a list of questions regarding the industry and company with whom you are speaking. You set up the appointment so it’s essentially your responsibility to drive the conversation. Ask questions that will actually help you in terms of charting a course for your own future success. You may even find out that what you thought you wanted as a career isn’t exactly what you had in mind.

3. If you were me…. This is always a great way to harvest information and gain advice about how to set up a path towards finding a job after school. Whomever you are speaking to, young or not-so-young, has made a lot of choices to get to where they are today. They’ve also made some mistakes. You can always glean useful tips from taking a quick walk in someone else’s shoes.

4. Manners matter. This may seem obvious, but it’s worth sharing. Be on time (be five minutes early). Turn off your cell phone before you walk in the door. When in doubt, dress up. And always send a hand-written, personal thank-you note afterward.

See you in the trenches!

Snow Communications is seeking to hire an Account Executive with solid (2-5 years) experience in a PR agency. If you have excellent writing, editing and media relations skills, experience in strategic and tactical planning of client campaigns, familiarity with social media marketing channels, and a team-player attitude, then this job is for you. Being detail oriented is a must. We focus on client needs with intensity and creativity and measure our success by how well they succeed. Competitive salary and benefits package.
Send your resume with writing samples to

In the February issue of Upsize Magazine, Katy Tanghe writes about the importance of establishing key messages before conducting media outreach. Read the full article here.

Snow Communications, Inc. today announced the launch of its new blog, The Snow Report, along with a complete website overhaul. The new blog focuses on industry updates, best practices and strategic principles for the public relations, marketing and government relations industries. The Snow Report has multiple contributors, all senior staff at Snow Communications.

About Snow Communications

Based in Minneapolis, Snow Communications provides world-class public relations and marketing services for exceptional clients. For more information, visit Snow Communications at