A Melbourne video startup backed by former top Aussie tennis player Lleyton Hewitt and ex-News Corp Australia CEO Kim Williams has opened a $3 million Series A round as it looks to expand its presence around the world.
VidCorp offers an all-in-one communication platform for companies to speak to their customers, staff and stakeholders through video.
The startup was founded in 2011 and is now used by Asahi and Schweppes for internal communication and engagement with staff, along with EY Australia and Target.
The platform allows businesses to send video content directly from a phone to selected people or groups via a text or email which directs to a branded landing page, with the content ranging from anything to an informal motivation video to important company updates.
VidCorp secured an undisclosed seed round from the Hewitt family office and Williams, who has also joined the company as chairman, and founder Ryan Berman says he first met with the media mogul after listening to a charity talk he presented.
“I was talking to him about our system and what we do and we got into a whole discussion about how he had tried to do something similar back at News Corp but they didn’t have the technology then,” Berman tells StartupSmart.
“He is very much drawn to analytics. His biggest grudge with CEOs nowadays is that they make decisions with gut feelings and not data. Actually having the data surrounding this is critical and gives CEOs the ability to make informed decisions.
“That’s what drew him to it.”
Williams says he invested in VidCorp because of its potential to be a world-leading video platform.
“I like VidCorp as an investment proposition because it provides an accessible video platform which is discrete, easy to use and driven on fair value with full accountability on results from any piece of communication – what’s not to like?” Williams says in a statement.
“In my view VidCorp has a great growth story ahead of it in Australia and internationally. It is a product and platform that, once used, sells itself.”
VidCorp is now seeking to raise a Series A round of at least $3 million, which Berman says will be used to drive further international growth and to expand the Melbourne-based team.
“We’re very, very confident that we’ll close it,” he says.
“It’s all about running now and it’s going to be hard for people to catch us.”
An “emotional rollercoaster”
After previously working as a personal trainer, Berman made the dive into the tech world with a startup that allowed users to pay a monthly fee to receive texts from professional athletes.
But after Twitter launched and saw celebrities tweeting this content for free, Text A Star pivoted to focus on video content from celebrities, a platform which formed the basis for VidCorp.
“Through our research we saw two unique opportunities: peer-to-peer private video sharing and an online video platform designed for businesses,” Berman says.
With an already existing relationship with the Hewitt family from Text A Star, Berman secured seed funding for both ideas, but after SnapChat came along, decided to focus his attention on VidCorp which was growing quickly.
“VidCorp started to get really significant traction and it hadn’t even been built yet,” Berman says.
“Our first client was Toll, who wanted to use it to speak to their drivers on the road, and they helped us develop it.”
Berman says that while video has become the dominant form of communication, businesses have previously lacked analytics or a specific platform.
“We saw there was a huge opportunity in the online video space where businesses were relying on social media video platforms like YouTube,” he says.
“They just measure views and where people drop off in isolation. At VidCorp we say that video is only part of the communications process – we look at how they get to it, how they engage and most importantly what they do after the video.”
Transforming the way companies communicate
The VidCorp platform allows users to closely analyse how the video is interacted with, and to include two-way engagement like a survey or a document to be downloaded.
“Video is the most powerful form of communication but the problem is that when someone watches it on YouTube there’s no call to action and there’s no business outcome,” Berman says.
“With VidCorp’s platform, once someone has watched a video you can capture their attention and get them to act there and then.
“And to create that whole experience takes a user with no technical skills about five minutes. A CEO can communicate with 30,000 staff around the world in five minutes, and it’s all personalised and tracks who is engaging with you.
“We’re transforming the way companies communicate.”
Berman says the startup has enjoyed double-digit quarterly growth and year-on-year revenue growth in the triple digits, without yet making an active effort to expand.
“We’re growing at a very fast rate but that actually hasn’t been the focus,” he says.
“The focus has been making sure we have a phenomenal product and getting unbelievable and trustworthy brands on board and using the platform.
“The brands we have attracted show that we’re solving a huge problem.”
A key aspect of this growth requires the startup educating its potential clients on the importance of video communication combined with analytics.
“We’re finding that the market is just so uneducated about the video world,” Berman says.
“Traditionally people are just uploading content to YouTube and social media but they aren’t getting an ROI on it, they’re just judging it on views.
“Traditionally views are seen as a form of success – we’re trying to change that and say there’s much more to it.”
It’s taken several significant pivots for Berman and VidCorp to get to this point, and the entrepreneur says honesty with his team has kept them on board with his vision.
“It’s an emotional rollercoaster,” he says.
“It’s all about explaining to the team why we’re going down this path and being open and honest with everyone involved about why we’re pivoting.
“It’s a journey and you never know where you’re going to land.”