• Wistia Harnesses Video for Business Communications

    VideoNuze readers know that I focus mainly on the media industry and how broadband video is creating disruption and opportunity across the value chain. With so much media-related broadband activity it's a constant challenge to maintain a wider lens so as to not miss any of broadband's impact in non-media segments. These can be just as exciting and significant. That's why it was compelling for me to recently have Chris Savage, CEO/co-founder of a local Boston-area early stage company called Wistia, explain their model.

    Wistia is all about online video sharing and collaboration for businesses. While collaboration tools have been around for ages, and have become increasingly cheaper (think WebEx, GoToMeeting, etc.), Wistia's difference is that it focuses mainly on video.

    The company's assumption is that as the cost of creating quality video has become ridiculously inexpensive and the popularity of watching video online has skyrocketed (by sites like YouTube and others), the environment is now right for businesses to embrace the medium to achieve increased productivity and cost-effectiveness. Given the economic climate and knowledge workers' geographic dispersion, these are no doubt goals for millions of businesses.

    Wistia makes it simple for a project manager to set up an account and begin uploading videos which are all automatically converted to Flash. Users are invited as "viewers" or "collaborators" depending on what privileges they're to have: viewing and commenting only or uploading media and inviting others as well. When commenting users have the option of turning on a time-coded option so that when others read their comments they are jumped to that specific point in the video. Wistia also provides a powerful analytics package that tracks actual consumption of the videos, including time spent in specific segments and completion rates.

    No surprise, the types of companies and their uses of Wistia vary widely. Chris explained a few: Cirque du Soleil, the circus arts performer, is using it for managers in disparate locations to review audition video when making casting decisions. Tribal DDB, a large ad agency, is using it to share rough cuts of ads with its clients to get immediate feedback. Kiva Systems, a robotics manufacturer is using it to share demonstration videos with prospective customers as part of their sales cycle. And many companies are using it for training distributed workers. When you take a moment to think about all the potential business applications, the list is mind-boggling.

    Remarkably, Wistia is still just a 5 person company that has been largely bootstrapped to date. Chris and his co-founder Brendan Schwartz are twenty-something Brown University friends who have built the product by focusing tightly on customer feedback. To be sure, customer acquisition tactics are still a work in progress and pricing models are being tweaked. Currently, basic customers pay as little as $79/mo and heavy users up to $5,000/mo.

    Business communications may not be as sexy as the media business, but Wistia is showing that innovative entrepreneurs are finding unexpected and exciting ways for broadband video to create new value.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.