Helping Businesses Join the YouTube Era: How Pixability Found Its Groove

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the other entrepreneurs she spent most of her time hanging out with. “The startup world has been my home for all of my career, and my friends were saying, ‘Bettina, you do this stuff so inexpensively for families, can’t you do this for my business?'”

At first, Hein says, she resisted that idea. But then the company bought a Flip digital camera, which brought about an “epiphany,” she says. “People had been sending us boxes and boxes of videos in different formats, from Beta to VHS to mini-DVD—we were pulling our hair out dealing with the different formats. So we thought, why don’t we just send them this camera as a rental, then edit what we get back.”

By marshalling freelance video editors with their own copies of desktop video editing programs, Hein felt Pixability could assemble customers’ footage into marketing videos that were beautiful, convincing, affordable, and most importantly, short. “Keep it to two minutes if you want to get good viewership,” Hein says. “Three minutes is pushing it.” (Greg wrote last fall about how a Seattle-based startup that makes short animated marketing videos, Lilipip Studios, went through a very similar change of business models in 2008.)

To test the idea, Hein posted a notice at Help A Reporter Out, an online clearinghouse for queries from journalists and pitches from sources. “We said, ‘We’ll send you a Flip camera, you shoot the footage, and we’ll edit it into a professional video.’ I thought that if five people decided to buy this, there might be a market. We immediately got 20 people signed up.”

That was exactly the kind of sign a good lean-startup CEO looks for. “I come from the software world, so we’re all about creating hypotheses, experimenting, and then adapting and iterating,” says Hein. “This clicked. Immediately we started getting people tweeting about us. And when you get that in multiples, and people are willing to advocate for you for free, that’s when you should listen.”

It’s easy to see why companies would be attracted to Pixability’s service. For $595, the five-employee startup will send your company a Flip camera along with a cheat sheet designed to help the designated videographer capture usable clips. (One easy technique, for example, is to ask five employees or customers attending a company event to identify themselves and give a one-sentence answer to the same question.) When the filming is done, you send the camera back to Pixabiity, and one of the company’s 15 freelance editors will distill up to 45 minutes of raw footage down to a two- or three-minute video that includes transitions, music, branded opening and closing graphics, and so forth. (You can watch a few finished examples at the end of this article; the company’s online showcase is here.) The videos can then be posted to your company’s website or YouTube channel.

The unspoken philosophy behind the whole process, of course, is that making a video that shows real employees or customers talking about their passions or experiences can be a more authentic way for your business to get its message out than traditional advertising and marketing.

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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5 responses to “Helping Businesses Join the YouTube Era: How Pixability Found Its Groove”

  1. One of the key advantages of Pixability’s offer is the importance of having independent, objective eyes edit raw footage into a short coherent message. A professional editor sees themes and recognizes the “chaff” in a way that internal people simply cannot. We do the same thing at Daily Grommet….send Flip cameras out if a small business needs access to one to provide us with video content. It’s great, great content when it comes straight from the source, but it would be unwatchable without professional editing. Pixability is able to tap the huge talent freelance video talent in a special way.

  2. I accessed this article via the founder’s blog (as a patent & trademark attorney, and mom, owner of two dogs, etc., I enjoy the Grommets). Ms. Hein’s services fill an important niche. And, from my perspective (in my roles as small business owner, amateur-web designer and producer of home video projects, youth coach/team manager) having a rental camera delivered to my doorstep for use, then the end-product literally cut down to proper size is of great value! I know, first hand, the frustration of attempting to read/download, then produce an end product using different video and graphic file formats (having spent countless hours and too much cash on new video and audio editing software for the original works of my two sons). Think I’ll check Pixability out for home (school and sport event projects/nonprofit) as well as a possible resource for clients. Thanks for showcasing…

  3. Patrick Synnott says:

    Pixability rips off professional freelancers they hire – by paying them $200 for work. This includes all travel expenses and tape stock. Plus the professionals MUST have “Professional camera gear, tripod and wireless audio capabilities required.”

    And Pixability CLAIM they don’t charge their customers much more than $200 – which is why the pay is so low. Yet on their website they list $1495 for their ‘broadcast package’.

  4. Patrick,

    You are missing some key facts.

    Besides hundreds of customers who keep on coming back, we also have a very happy network of editors, motion graphics artists, animators, and camera technicians who fill up their downtime with our work. Some have done work for us during entire 3-year life of Pixability.

    Feedback we have received from the mentioned professionals has one common message – they prefer practicing their craft instead of having to look for customers, spending money on marketing themselves (major expense), project managing, pre-producing, managing scope, managing accounts receivable, doing collections, etc.

    P.S. Package you’ve mentioned actually included a lot more than just 2 hours of videographer. It also included logging of the footage, editing, certain elements in motion graphics, etc. etc. etc.

    Apolinaras “Apollo” Sinkevicius
    Director of Operations
    Pixability, Inc.