After realising the ways in which Covid-19 would affect its customer base, Galway start-up Video Sherpa took stock and expanded its offering to new sectors.
According to Video Sherpa co-founder and chief executive Anna Downes, it has been relatively easy for the start-up to adapt during the Covid-19 pandemic. Early on, the team took a step back to refocus and reimagine the role of video content in what had become an unprecedented situation.
The Galway-based company, which has developed a video production software platform that enables companies to create video content in-house, saw that the needs of its customers were changing rapidly as businesses shifted to remote working and operations.
“As a software company, our day-to-day activities were not dramatically impacted by the pandemic. However, the impact on our customer base was swift and extreme,” Downes told Siliconrepublic.com.
“With no events, no product launches, nobody working together in shared offices, there was little opportunity to film video content other than by using video-conferencing tools like Zoom or Teams.”
We last spoke to Downes just weeks before restrictions were introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19, when she attended Enterprise Ireland’s Start-up Showcase for 2020 in February.
“It’s incredible to think what has happened since, and what enormous repercussions there have been as a result,” she said.
Downes, who has a background in communications and marketing, has huge faith in the power of video as an essential communication tool for organisations.
For this reason, she created Video Sherpa with her husband Andrew to give businesses a user-friendly way to film, edit, share and manage their own unique video content to improve their communications, training and social media engagement campaigns.
‘I think this year, we will start to see video rolled out on a wider basis’
– ANNA DOWNES
When Video Sherpa assessed the situation during the pandemic, Downes said that it “quickly became apparent” that employee training could no longer be safely delivered in large groups and that hospitals were seeking ways to deliver essential communications to their patients remotely.
“So we pivoted towards these two areas, and the Video Sherpa platform was ideally suited to help create these types of video communications in-house,” she said.
“Thankfully things have started to return to a semblance of normality and we are again dealing with queries from lots of SMEs, colleges and universities, manufacturing companies and marketing agencies in the last few months.”
Turning the tech towards third-level institutions, hospitals and other new businesses may seem like a significant expansion, but it’s not the first time this start-up has pivoted.
While Video Sherpa was officially launched in 2019, the company originally began life as ShowHauz, a platform that allowed property agents to film and show developments to buyers virtually.
In its original incarnation, Downes said that ShowHauz garnered attention from companies across different industries, and she realised there were applications for this tech service in manufacturing, marketing, public bodies and education.
“Most wanted to use video marketing to showcase their organisations, their events, their teams, their products or services,” she said. “Then the Covid-19 lockdown came along and brought everything to a halt.”
When asked about some of the ways that Video Sherpa’s platform could now be used, Downes explained how video recruitment has become an important resource in higher education.
“Almost all colleges have a YouTube presence and understand the value of video in reaching and engaging current and prospective students,” she said. “I think this year, we will start to see video rolled out on a wider basis across campuses – incorporating more student stories, alumni stories and hearing from faculty on what programmes are about.
“We’re also talking to colleges about capturing relevant footage that can supplement their presentations, bring their online lectures to the next level and keep students engaged.”
Video content for education
“If this pandemic has taught us anything, it has helped us evaluate what is most important to us and very often, that is time,” Downes added. “We realise how much more efficient we can be when not spending more than 10 hours a week commuting and how unnecessary those endless meetings actually were.”
When it comes to third-level education, she said that there is so much more to the student experience than the subjects that are studied and the parchment that is awarded at the end of a course. “I cannot imagine the student experience as we know it successfully transferring online in its entirety, but perhaps a hybrid model will emerge that is the optimum combination of both the online and in-person experience.”
Looking into the future, Downes said that she expects video tech to become “further ingrained” in the toolkit of further education beyond the current health crisis.
“Universities have always benefitted from attracting students from far away, a practice which hasn’t slowed down because of the pandemic, but one which will always require stronger video solutions to effectively communicate the necessary messaging, pandemic or not.”