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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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.