M.O.D.ern design

From their rental home on the shores of Lake Monona, an area couple forms a production company offering freelance talent from around the world.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Allison Lenz and Carlos Guzman named their young production company M.O.D. Media Productions for a reason. M.O.D. is an acronym for masters of design, they explain, but even more importantly, Mod represents “out there,” Lenz notes. “It’s stylish, modern, and out of the block.”

Stylish, perhaps, because the couple’s artistic talents are on display around the clock. While M.O.D. Media occupies most of their entrepreneurial time, they also perform in different bands around town. Lenz plays cello, Guzman sings and plays guitar, and they are also professional photographers.

Modern, because they believe they’ve discovered a unique niche for their company, working exclusively with freelancers on freelancer terms; and out of the block because their collection of independent contractors, they say, adds a certain freshness to projects they take on.

M.O.D. Media operates from the basement of a Lake Monona rental home offering a remarkable view of Madison’s skyline. It wasn’t intended that way originally, Lenz notes, but after weighing the costs of finding or renting space and hiring freelance talent, a home office made more financial sense. “Besides,” Lenz admits, “the cold office building isn’t M.O.D. Media.”

The couple lives upstairs. Downstairs, there’s an audio, video, and photography studio, an editing bay, and visitors can even brainstorm over a cup of coffee while sitting outside around an outdoor fire pit. To ease on rent, the couple leases one of the home’s three bedrooms to a young AV technician/web developer/lighting technician whom they’ve also hired on certain projects.

“It just works,” Lenz says.

The couple met at Heid Music, where Lenz, the store’s manager, hired Guzman to help with sales. They quickly discovered their common interests.

Lenz hails from Delavan, Wis. and earned a degree in journalism from UW–Madison. Guzman spent a good part of his younger years in Venezuela, his father’s native country, before working in France, Germany, and Spain. Eventually he returned to Madison and graduated from Madison Media Institute in 2014. The M.O.D. Media model was his idea.

“Our minds work very similarly,” Guzman states. Lenz nods in agreement and adds, “Carlos has a big imagination and I can create logistics out of his ideas. That’s why this has worked. Basically, we’re storytellers.”

M.O.D. Media’s résumé since incorporating in December 2014 includes work for UBS Financial, Spectrum Brands, Lands’ End, the Clean Lakes Alliance, TED Talks, UW Emergency Medicine, Overture Center, and the Madison Public Library, among others.



Thus far, they’ve handled much of that work themselves, but the M.O.D. Media business model involves bringing freelancers under their fold, starting with project managers who become the face of M.O.D. Media on each assigned project.

Project managers assemble their project teams from a list of 40 or more freelancers that Lenz and Guzman have already met, vetted, and signed agreements with. The company offers photography services, videography, graphic design, web design, audio production, branding, and print services.

“We tailor the media to the needs of the customer, which allows us to pay the independent contractor what they want,” notes Guzman. “That’s very important to us. We don’t want them to skimp on their pricing so we provide the customer a real price without added expenses [i.e., overhead].”

The independent contractors, in turn, are fed projects that fit their style and ability and are encouraged to be as creative as they can be. In many cases, they can work remotely from around the globe, as M.O.D. Media has agreements with artists in Chicago, New York City, and even Paris, Panama, and Venezuela. “The internet is a great place to look for talent,” Guzman acknowledges, “and the idea is to collect as many styles and budget ranges as possible.”

Thus far, M.O.D. Media is surpassing its goals, tripling sales in its second year, and signing five project managers who work on a 100% commission basis. Five years from now, Lenz and Guzman would like to have several M.O.D. Media satellite offices around the country while retaining Madison as the home base, “like a creative union,” Lenz smiles.

M.O.D. Media Productions
(608) 285-5498

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