The growth of video content has given rise to a number of start-ups with interesting and innovative ideas. Among these is three-year old Videogram, a Tokyo-based start-up, which offers a unique content discovery and marketing tool for publishers.
Rahul Golecha, Co-founder at Videogram, describes Videogram’s platform as a combination of Google and SoundCloud, but for videos, which allows content owners to provide multiple entry points to viewers via thumbnails.
“We want to be the single thumbnail of every video on the internet,” he says, when asked about the company’s ambition. “What Videogram allows is the freedom to users to move to any particular scene within the video immediately. Secondly, there are avenues for engagement from comments to sharing, which are all contextual, rather than on the overall content asset. No other platform provides this and it tells you exactly which things within the video stand out.”
Videogram, which is a part of Cinemacraft, was incorporated in the US in 2012. India operations began in June 2014 when the company partnered with Mumbai-based digital agency Epigram. It currently counts NTT Docomo Ventures, Samsung Ventures and 500 start-ups among its investors. However, the actual journey began even earlier in 2011, when Golecha and other founding members were trying to figure out what the focus of the new entity should be.
“We started off doing what most other companies were doing; by adding filters to videos, something like a video version of Instagram. However, we soon realized that we were not solving any real problems with this approach. We realized that there are multiple problems with video content and one of these is content discovery. I see just one thumbnail for an hour long video, which doesn’t tell me anything about what the video is about. So this is the problem that Videogram tries to solve,” said Golecha.
Based out of Mumbai, the company currently employs 9 employees spread in 4 countries. Some of their major campaigns have been for Dhoom 3, Byomkesh Bakshi, Rajasthan Royals, etc. It has also undertaken field trails with Star TV to promote the new season of Nach Baliye. It counts the US, Japan and India as its main markets and is also planning to increase its presence in the Korean market.
“In general, start-up ecosystem is tough since you have to do everything yourself. If we are talking about India, one of the major challenges is the legal aspect. There are a lot of challenges in terms of paperwork, etc. In the US, start-ups are more welcomed while in India, they are still seen with some suspicion. Most people want to work with a known name they can trust so it becomes tough to convince them at times. The same thing happens while hiring as well. It becomes a challenge because there are 10 companies hiring and all of them are start-ups so even the interviewee becomes confused about where to apply,” says Golecha.
Like any other start-up monetization becomes a very important consideration and, especially, with a medium like digital, where, as Golecha agrees, people are averse to paying for content. “I think India has a great potential in terms of video. Because a lot of people are consuming video they are looking for better ways to consume video, but people in India do not like to pay for content, so it is very important for companies like us to innovate more on the revenue side so you can make money off the asset,” says Golecha.
One of way doing this, according to Golecha, is to replace some of the thumbnails with sponsored advertisements. He gives the example of TV, where ads are inserted before important or interesting scenes and says, “We are trying to get a TV style advertising to online video.”
Since the platform collects demographic and geographic data, the advertiser can easily decide which segment within the video will provide it the most traction.
“This is important because out of 200 views only one person actually clicks on a video. With this kind of view, whether a person sees the video or not, he can still see the ad. Even an annotation is seen only when the video gets played,” argues Golecha. He claims that clients have seen more than 30 per cent engagement rates after using the Videogram platform.
The road ahead for Golecha and his team is still long but he seems confident that Videogram has a bright future ahead due to the unique nature of its offering. “Our first plan is to spread more awareness among users about what Videogram is and what we do. We want to get more publishers on board. We are focusing on three major verticals—sports, entertainment and fashion. Once we get more publishers and users then we can actually show the power of the platform,” he said.
His ambition for the company goes much beyond that though. “We want to solve the discovery problem; discovery in the case of individual scenes; not videos,” he said when asked where the company would head next.
“What particularly happens these days is that if you search for one video, you will get many short few minutes long clips from different sources,” he explains. “What this does is also divide the metrics, so you don’t know how many views the content has gotten as a whole. We don’t want content holders to split their content. There should only be one source of content where everything is coming back to it. So whatever revenue and numbers you are getting is all from just one source.”
To better understand this, consider that you are searching for a particular clip from a film, you will come across a number of different clips by different uploaders. Golecha’s ambition for Videogram is to become the single platform that allows the audience to easily search for different individual segments online.