It’s been a bit of a whirlwind; since mid-January, the company opened a U.S, office, hired 55 people, and produced an astounding 13,000 new videos, 11,000 of those from the U.S.
Focusing on how-to videos, VideoJug stands out for its commitment to professionally produced content while trying to amass a large-scale comprehensive “video encyclopedia of life,” as U.S. CEO Peter Schankowitz puts it. A Reuters profile appropriately described it as a video version of About.com.
The clips are surprisingly personality-free when you’re coming from the current online world of tongue-in-cheek, gag reel, and home-made charm. But even if bland, you can’t deny VideoJug’s work is informative and reasonably well-produced. Embedded above is the current most popular video on the site, on the topic “infidelity detection.”
If you think about it, it makes more sense to have a centralized video encyclopedia than a centralized text one, since in-line collaboration is so much simpler, faster, and useful in text. Hence, Wikipedia trumps About.com, but perhaps Videojug stands a chance against YouTube or any of the user-generated how-to specific sites like SuTree and 5min (see previous coverage). VideoJug is also hedging to some extent, allowing users to upload videos for possible inclusion.
Schankowitz, a former Hollywood producer, says he expects his site to do especially well when it comes to issues that are hard to talk about (say, divorce), or expensive to learn about (again, divorce would be a good example, and it has a whole category on the site). In those cases, having a credentialed professional “look you in the eye” while explaining the answers to your problems can be especially compelling, he contended.
And he’s right; video is just better, in many cases, for learning things, and bringing how-to instructions online means they are much more portable than on a TV screen. See this “how to maintain your mountain bike” tutorial, for example.
The U.K. version of the site, which had only 2,000 videos before this week, was already pulling 700,000 uniques visitors per month, Schankowitz said. The site’s focus will be on building an audience and striking Internet distribution deals, he said, but later on television and mobile ventures are possible. “Based on my background and my Rolodex, if I don’t turn these videos into TV shows, I haven’t done my job,” he said.
This particular company may have some leeway to experiment given its capitalization, but we still think $30 million might be overkill!