Tech start-up of the week: Videobot

8 Sep 2013

Meet the co-founders of Videobot (vbot): Bartek Czerwinski, who was born in Poland, and Canadian-born Frédéric Herrera who has been living and working in Ireland for the past 13 years and has just become an Irish citizen this past summer

Our tech start-up of the week is Videobot (vbot), a new mobile video platform company that is headquartered in Dundalk, Co Louth. The venture has been co-founded by Irish-Canadian Frédéric Herrera, and Bartek Czerwinski, who hails from Poland. Videobot will be launching an app in both Android and iOS this coming week. The start-up already has 10 clients lined up in the corporate space who are ready to use vbot.

Czerwinski and Herrera describe their vbot platform as the ‘YourTube’ for corporates instead of YouTube as it enables both businesses and organisations to control advertising and monetise from content views.

Videobot is in Enterprise Ireland HPSU [high-potential start-up] feasibility mode and is plotting a global mission to disrupt the way SMEs and large corporations record, manage and playback videos via smartphones, tablets, and web applications especially in areas such as brand communications, entertainment, news reporting, e-commerce, and recruiting.

Where it’s at

So, here’s a little bit more about Videobot.

The start-up is based at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT). At the moment, the core team comprises six employees: four people are based at DKIT, while there are another two employees in Poland.

In addition, there are five extra salespeople working on selling Videobot’s product(s) overseas. Herrera says there is one salesperson in Canada, one in Silicon Valley, one in Paris, one in London, and one in Spain.

The core team came together in January and they have been talking to people about their end-to-end video system application since then.

Combined, the Videobot team members speak eight languages, so this is helping with localisation, Herrera says.

Next week, Herrera and Czerwinski are preparing to head to Dublin to pitch their start-up to Wayra, the incubator for new technology ventures.

Herrera says that Videobot, or vbot, as the start-up is also known, is down to the final 16 start-ups that are pitching to go on the Wayra programme for start-ups.

Mobile video space

Such big brands, Herrera says, are trying to engage with their consumer audience via mobile.

As well as this, vbot is in final discussions to “land”, what Herrera describes as a “very important European project” in the area of mobile video.

In a nutshell he says that vbot is a publishing system for mobile video recording applications.

“Instead of YouTube, it’s ‘YourTube’ for corporates.” For instance, the goal is to give companies that might be “wary” of putting their video content on the likes of Facebook and YouTube, especially when they can’t control the advertising strands that happen on such digital platforms.

Enter vbot. Via its content management system (CMS), Herrera says that companies will be able to download the application quickly in order to use its video-recording capabilities.

He describes vbot as being “fast and private” with “unique” pin codes so that companies will be able to use the app safely, without fear that their digital content will get lost in the cloud.

And, in relation to the Enterprise Ireland HPSU status, Herrera says that vbot was also part of a trade mission to Poland that was led by the agency earlier this year.

He says that the aim is for vbot to attract investment “pretty quickly” so that the start-up can scale up and create more jobs.

“We will be looking for private investment and from the state agencies,” he says. In other words, a seed-funding round is hopefully on the cards for vbot in the not-too-distant future.

And, with that investment round, when it happens, Herrera says that the goal will be to scale up the company’s workforce here in Ireland. He says that the vbot will be ideally looking for application developers, salespeople and those who work in the area of business development.

Where Videobot is heading?

And the ultimate goal for vbot?

“We want to launch five ‘brilliant’ and groundbreaking mobile applications every year.

He says that broadcaster and journalist Mark Little, who is behind Storyful, has described the vbot application as “putting manners on video”.

As well, as this, the intention is for Videobot to set up what Herrera terms as a “community development programme called vLab.

“People who want to develop applications  can use our technology.” The idea is that vLab will sit on top of the vbot technology.

He describes vbot as being scaleable architecture that exists in the cloud, but added that the developers have made it highly secure.

Why Ireland?

As to why both he and Czerwinski decided to set up a business in Ireland, Herrera says that he thinks Ireland is still the best place to do business.

Echoing what IDA Ireland has to say about the country, Herrera says that companies are attracted to Ireland’s “open economy” and workforce.

Herrera, who has been living in Ireland for the past 13 years, recently got Irish citizenship and you can hear the lilt of the Irish accent when he talks at times, combined with his native French-Canadian lilt.

Finally, his parting words for other start-ups out there that are starting to emerge onto the Irish tech scene:

“They [the start-ups] need to be very drive and align themselves with partners as soon as possible.”

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic