Andrew Horn celebrates more than just his birthday on May 28: That was also the date he got the idea for his virtual gift startup, Tribute, six years ago. And this year, it marked a major milestone in the Brooklyn-based company's rapid, unlikely turnaround: Tribute's millionth video. 

Tribute's platform lets customers create video montages to celebrate important occasions. Users can upload videos, edit them together, and send a produced copy to the recipient. The company closed a $1.3 million seed round in 2017.

On March 15, the company got rid of the $25 fee for its base service, dubbed DIY. That led to a spike in users who flocked to Tribute to commemorate birthdays, graduations, and weddings while following social distancing measures and shelter-in-place orders. Tribute has received close to 26,000 orders in the past three months, compared with just 3,500 orders in all of 2019, according to Horn. Revenue for the month of May reached $700,000, compared with $250,000 for all of 2019. Horn now projects $5 million in total revenue for 2020.

While the base service now is free, Tribute makes money from its two other offerings. For $99, its concierge package handles the collection of videos and editing process. The company also sells a concierge deluxe package for $175 that includes additional items like a seven-inch LCD greeting card that plays Tribute videos. Nearly 18,000 of the 26,000 orders in the past three months were for the DIY service, about 4,500 were for the concierge packaging, and the remainder were for the concierge deluxe package, Horn says. 

"We've had this incredible three-month run that is still growing," says Horn, who is the co-founder and CEO of the 120-employee company. "People need to connect, even in a time when they can't physically be with each other." 

Horn started the business in 2014 after his now-wife made him a video montage of his family and closest friends saying why they loved him. He thought the gift was amazing, but learned the process of sending requests to friends for videos, collecting them, and stitching them together was a headache. That day he hatched the idea for Tribute. About two months later, he met his co-founder, Rory Petty, in their apartment building's gym. Petty was working as a senior engineer for Mozilla at the time but was looking for side projects. He helped build Tribute as a side hustle before joining the team full-time in 2015.  

After four years in business, Tribute's revenue plateaued. Meanwhile, Horn and Petty took consulting jobs on the side to subsidize their salaries. They hoped a new product slated for release in December 2020---a mobile app that encourages users to continually share their appreciation of one another through videos--would give the company a boost. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Horn says he's been touched seeing how customers use Tribute to connect when they can't be physically close to one another. "A lot of messages acknowledge the celebrations or ceremonies that are just no longer possible to attend," he says. "This obviously is a hard time in terms of the virus, but also in terms of those moments that we're all missing."