San Francisco-based VidCaster seeks to take on the larger OVPs like Brightcove and Ooyala with a very simple value proposition: Take the pain out of video distribution. To do so, it has created a product built more like a consumer-facing video portal than the typical enterprise video platform.
In some respects, VidCaster was born out of necessity, as its founders sought a good way to distribute their own videos. The VidCaster team met at Indiana University, where they studied TV production. But there was no university TV station when they joined, so they made one. Later, they moved to San Francisco and tried to use their video skills to create an alternative local TV service called VidSF.
Modeled after alt-weekly newspapers, VidSF was formed to provide compelling counter-culture video content online. But it needed a website, a video player, comments, an easy way to share videos with friends, and a distribution method for syndicating videos to other sites. VidCaster CEO Kieran Farr told us in an interview that the team looked into all the white-label video products offered by companies like Brightcove and Ooyala, but none of them really had all the features they wanted. So they built a platform from the ground up themselves.
The key to VidCaster is its simplicity: According to Farr, the platform has everything one might need to launch a customizable video site in minutes. While other video distribution platforms provide only a customizable player — which requires a separate web design team and content management system for the actual websites and video pages — VidCaster enables its customers to very quickly create complete video sites with very little hassle.
“The typical purchaser of an OVP is the IT team,” Farr said. “But it’s the marketing team that’s actually using it.” With that in mind, Farr wanted to make VidCaster more like the “Tumblr for professional videos.” That meant providing everything one might need from a video hosting solution — including advanced transcoding, one-click distribution, advertising and monetization features, integrated analytics and customizable player pages, but making it all completely painless. The startup also has pretty straightforward pricing plans, starting at $39 a month, to enable anyone to get off the ground with a video site.
One of VidCaster’s flagship clients is Airbnb, which recently started ramping up its video strategy. Airbnb operates a service that allows anyone to rent their house, apartment or a room in their home to strangers, which can be a strange concept to the uninitiated. So it began producing a series called AirTV, providing Cribs-like profiles of spaces available for rent and the hosts that rent their rooms out. For Airbnb, the project is paying off, but it wouldn’t be possible without a drop-dead simple platform for distribution.
The VidCaster team has been bootstrapping ever since it decided to productize the platform halfway through last year, but is currently looking for funding. The hope is that soon the tiny startup will be able to expand its dev team and sales force to add new features and capture new clients.