Startup Watch: Hot Clubs on Video at PerfSpot

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Remember Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell trying to get a glimpse of the Roxbury, a hot night club in the 1998 comedy, A Night At The Roxbury? Well, that is how you can feel standing in a line, braving the cold trying to get into hot new club in say Los Angeles, New York or London, before being denied entry by some bouncer. All that time wasted, when you don’t even know if the trip inside is worth a visit. What if you could get a glimpse of what’s going on inside, as a video clip or streaming live video?

PerfNightsEntrepreneur Hart Cunningham, 30, plans to do exactly that. The Claremont Colleges MBA self-funded his startup PerfSpot with $2 million earned from other ventures like computer tech-support service Juvio and marketing and online banner-ad firm Alansis, which supports companies like Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

Cunningham, who launched social networking site PerfSpot in March 2007, plans to add a video service by September that lets you see inside your favorite bars and nightclubs. Meanwhile, a new feature introduced Monday on PerfSpot allows members to upload home videos to the site. Privacy features control who can view the videos.

PerfSpot boasts 3 million users and averages 40,000 new signups daily. The online video service is an extension of PerfNights, a section of the site where a posse of 380 paparazzi candidly document nighttime sprees and upload still photos to the site for all to view. Currently, photographers snap pictures and hand the subject a card instructing where to view the photo online. About 400,000 cards are distributed in the U.S. monthly, the majority in New York; San Diego, Calif.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and South Beach, Fla.

Uploading video to PerfNights gives prospective patrons a glimpse into the nightlife at clubs, and clubs a chance to attract more people. But streaming video in real-time from the location seems even better because it would give residents of Grand Forks, North Dakota, planning to take a vacation in sunny, San Diego, Calif., a chance to checkout some venues before making the trip. (But then again, I can think of at least three reasons why you wouldn’t want a video camera in a bar. Could you?)

Meeting the increase in demand for video on his site, Cunningham plans to contract another 4,620 photographers and videographers worldwide by the end of 2007 to grow the business internationally. It’s not clear whether the site will require paparazzi to stream videos live or have some amount of time to upload and post content to the site. “I’m still working out the details,” he said.

Maybe so, but there’s already buy-in from big-name brands looking to get their products in front of the 18-to-30-something crowd and on the back of the cards distributed each time a photographer takes a picture. Coca-Cola, Fox and Sony have webpages on PerfSpot to promote products. And Cunningham said discussions are underway with Bud Light, Corona, and Red Bull to possibly sponsor upcoming video events.

Not all Cunningham’s ventures are for profit. The entrepreneur also wrote a self-help book titled Maximizing Me: 30 lessons on the journey to self-empowerment, and donated 70,000 books to 400 homeless shelters across the county to help the homeless get back on their feet and into society.

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