Helping Businesses Join the YouTube Era: How Pixability Found Its Groove
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leveraging the passion of the people in the company,” says Hein. “I can’t go everywhere and talk to everyone. But I can get a video out to customers and speak to them that way. Video is effective because you can’t fake it—people can tell immediately if someone is for real or not. Also, YouTube and handheld cameras have changed the way we perceive video, and lowered the barrier to entry for everybody. It’s a democratization that has opened up an opportunity for small companies, or bigger companies, to market themselves.”
Pixability isn’t without competition, of course: Hein acknowledges that there’s pressure on her startup from at least three directions. One is traditional production houses—Boston.TV and Black Screen Studios are two local examples—where professional videographers have seen the YouTube train coming and are scrambling to adapt their services accordingly. Another is automated, Web-based video editing services such as Animoto (based in New York, and also profiled by Greg last year), which assemble video clips and stills into slick multimedia presentations for extremely low prices. Finally, there’s the DIY phenomenon—Flip cameras and editing programs like Apple’s iMovie are so easy to use, after all, that anyone who’s even moderately computer-savvy can, in principle, make their own videos.
But Hein says she isn’t overly worried about any of these rivals. The automated tools such as Animoto, she says, churn out videos that look robotic and undifferentiated. Few small companies are willing to spend thousands of dollars to hire a professional production house to make a single video. And few of their staffers have the time or patience (or, to be realistic, the creative skills) required to do the work themselves.
“If you remember when desktop publishing tools came out in the 1980s, and everyone said they’d start publishing everything themselves?” Hein asks. “Well, that never happened. There are still professionals who do layout, and most desktop publishing software even today is not used by average consumers.”
Fortunately for Hein and her company, following the lean-startup precepts meant that the company’s burn rate was low, and that it could afford to switch to a new business model without having to raise much new capital. (The company collected just $155,000 in its most recent round of equity-based financing last December, and has raised several times that altogether.) Pixability’s revenues have climbed by a factor of 10 since the switchover to business-to-business services, Hein says.
But what really validates the change, Hein says, is the fact that she’s having so much more fun now that she’s helping other entrepreneurs tell their stories on video, from social-media-savvy funeral directors to scrap-metal collectors, to Silicon Valley Web guru Guy Kawasaki. “I came into entrepreneurship because I wanted to encourage other people to become entrepreneurs,” says Hein. “So this is like Candy Land for me, because I get to see so many cool little businesses, and I get to support people and help their dreams of building a business come true. The family stuff was really heartwarming. But this fits my personality even better.”
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