Our Start-up of the Week is Video Sherpa, a video marketing software platform that companies can use to create original video content.
Video Sherpa founder and CEO Anna Downes describes her Galway-based start-up as being similar to an in-house video production crew for businesses. “We’ve taken care of the tech, so they can focus on their storytelling,” she told Siliconrepublic.com.
Prior to launching Video Sherpa, Downes worked in the cultural sector in the area of marketing and communications. She has previously worked for the Irish Film Board, Burren College of Art and the British Council.
Her co-founder Andrew Downes, who is head of product development, is a professional photographer and videographer. The two began working together to create video content for customers that focused on the client stories and the human aspects behind a company or organisation.
While the pair have been working together for four years, they have been married for 16 years. The CEO said: “Lots of people say, ‘I could never work with my husband or wife – we’d kill each other!’ That’s not the case for us. We have a really good understanding of each other’s strengths and how to push each other to keep going, keep progressing, so it works for us.”
“As consumers, we love watching videos – 79pc of us prefer to watch a video about a product than read about it,” Downes said.
“Video consistently increases audience engagement more than other marketing tools, so it makes sense for brands and companies to use more video across all their communication channels.”
As an expert in marketing who is married to someone with experience in videography, Downes knows better than most that the cost of creating video content can be quite high. Video Sherpa aims to make that service more accessible, giving companies a cost-effective alternative to an in-house video production team.
The software can be used with any smartphone that has a decent camera. “Video Sherpa is an end-to-end guided filmmaking platform – you can film edit, publish and manage all your content on one central dashboard,” Downes explained.
“Our algorithms calculate the quantity and variety of shots they need depending on the project they’re creating. The app also controls the video camera settings within a mobile phone to ensure everything is in focus and correctly exposed.”
From here, footage is synchronised to the cloud-based editor, where it can be trimmed, captioned or have voiceovers added to it. Creators can then publish videos directly to their social channels from Video Sherpa.
“We’ve also added a digital asset library, useful project management, closed caption and editorial approval tools to make it a robust platform for teams and companies with staff in diverse locations,” she added.
“As it’s all cloud-hosted, everyone can assess their videos assets at any time and there’s no danger of footage going missing or getting lost on an elusive memory stick!”
In March, Video Sherpa received High Potential Start-up (HPSU) funding from Enterprise Ireland. Downes said that this money has been funnelled into product development and preparing for Video Sherpa’s launch.
“The demand for this solution is palpable. We already have over 110 companies in our sales pipeline for Ireland, the UK and the USA who have requested a full demo or trial, and we’re getting more requests daily.
“We had a huge response from delegates at the Technology for Marketing show in London last month and will also be showcasing Video Sherpa at the Web Summit in Lisbon, the Digital Marketing Forum in Amsterdam and at the CoEX Video Production conference in NY before the end of this year.”
The company has plans to build out the team and take on additional staff in the beginning of 2020. Beyond that, Downes said the duo are also looking to attract investment.
“The product is ready to go and we’ve seen the level of demand that exists for a solution like ours.
“Now we need to focus on scaling a sales and marketing operation that enables us to really grow our client base and sales revenues. We’ve been speaking to some investors both in Ireland and the US and hope to close out a second funding round next year.”
Launching a start-up in Galway
The start-up was founded in Galway and the business is based in the PorterShed. Downes described it as “a dream location for a start-up”.
“We’re surrounded by fellow start-ups and entrepreneurs, advisors and mentors who are ready to help in very practical ways – advice, introductions etc. There are so many people in your corner that it feels like you’ve got a much bigger team than you do.”
As well as the HPSU funding from Enterprise Ireland, Video Sherpa has also participated in the PorterShed’s accelerator, as well as the Atlantic Digital Start-up Accelerator.
“Now that we’re looking to kickstart sales internationally, the EI advisors have been a great practical support, making introductions and providing office space,” Downes added.
She said that asking people around her for help when it’s needed has been greatly beneficial to the business. “I know I’ve saved myself endless hours of research by just picking up the phone and asking someone’s informed opinion or advice.
“Learning from other founders who are a little further along the road is also great – both in terms of morale and also sometimes in terms of learning what not to do!”
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