Directr and NEVCA Team Up on Boston Startup Holiday Videos

Coffee, computers, and young people working long hours. Maybe a little ping-pong or foosball for stress relief. You’ve seen one startup, you’ve seen them all.

And maybe that’s the point. You’d be hard-pressed to tell this group of Boston-area startups, captured on video, apart from their peers in Silicon Valley—or any other entrepreneurial hub—except for the weather, traffic, and architectural shots.

I’m talking about the short holiday videos made by 30-some local companies, giving the flavor of a day in the life, using a movie-making app from Cambridge, MA-based Directr. The New England Venture Capital Association reached out to the companies, as part of an effort to bring the community together and showcase what Boston startups are all about. (The NEVCA reports that in 2012, New England companies raised $3 billion-plus in venture funding and had 68 exits—acquisitions or IPOs—for a total market value of the exiting companies of $35 billion-plus.)

Admittedly, you can’t tell much about a company from a 60-second video. Lines of code and office workers aren’t particularly cinematic or distinguishing. But if you want to get acquainted with the Boston startup scene, you could do worse than to check out these videos and follow up with the people involved. Interestingly, and importantly, it’s not just tech startups represented—ones like Backupify, Fiksu, LevelUp, Plexxi, and RunKeeper. It’s also biotech and life sciences companies, like Acceleron, Predictive Biosciences, Cerulean, and OvaScience (boy that last office building looks familiar).

Last summer, I met with the founders of Directr, Max Goldman and Eli Schleifer (pictured above). These are the entrepreneurs behind the point-and-shoot mobile software that helps people tell stories through video, without doing time-consuming editing. Think of it as a way to shoot home movies quickly with expert guidance—sort of like a “coloring book for video.”

That’s the idea, anyway. Goldman says one of the broader goals of Directr is to “bring humanity back into the creative process.” In other words, he says, “Let the computers do what they do best, and let the humans do what the computers can’t—like tell stories and curate playlists.” (See Songza in music, and others as well.) Exactly where and how Directr puts human experts in the loop, I’m not at liberty to say yet. But, judging from this crop of holiday videos, the company looks to be well on its way to establishing itself in the filmmaking industry—and the Boston startup scene.

Check them all out, but a few moments in the startup videos stood out to me:

1. “Have a safe and private holiday,” from Abine.

2. “Ever wonder where great new products come from?” That would be Daily Grommet, doing what it does every day, telling stories about stuff.

3. Whoever did that backflip at Boundless, bravo sir.

4. The Actifio guys look pretty buttoned-down. What are you, enterprise software or something?

5. Company dogs make appearances at Boundless and Akiban.

6. From its video, I have no idea what Fractyl does. And I suspect the company likes it that way.

7. The guys at Yesware are particularly demonstrative in their conference calls and office space. It translates well on film.

8. I counted 31 coffeemakers and 125 laptops in all the videos. No, not really.

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