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Business Rx: A father-and-son webcasting start-up wants to connect to videographers

Monday, February 28, 2011; 30

The entrepreneur

Jim Kelly and his son Michael Kelly are teaming up to tackle a new form of webcasting geared toward helping videographers profit from streaming their videos online. They devised a pay-per-view format of webcasting and are working to get their business, Webcasting Video, up and running. Jim, a serial entrepreneur, is working on the administration and sales side of the company, while Michael is working on the technical side of the business.

The pitch

Jim Kelly

"We provide a Web site/gateway where videographers can feed their video to enable the world to see an event. What differentiates us is that a videographer using Webcasting Video has the ability to require members to subscribe to an event, making it a pay-per-view format. Videographers decide how much to charge their members to watch and the subscribers then have the option to watch it live or on-demand at a time of their convenience.

"We began by webcasting barbershop singing shows, and thought that if this group likes to see a webcast and will pay to see it, then there are many other categories of groups and organizations that would like to do the same. We started about a year ago and have done about 15 events so far, including a six-day national synchronized swimming meet, a seven-day national gymnastics event, the California State Science Fair, and an alpaca and llama show.

"Our target customers are any of the 3,000 videographers in the nation, because they already have the client base. Our question: How can we reach the 3,000 videographers at a reasonable cost?"

The advice

Ben Hallen, assistant professor of management and organization at the Robert H. Smith School of Business

"Before you tackle marketing and growing your business, you really need to test your model. You have a clearly identified a target market in videographers, but you need to ask the critical questions about your business model to gauge the market's appetite for your service. List out any big uncertainties and determine what factors could alter the business model.

"Then, you need to understand videographers' needs. To do this, take a casual dating approach. My advice would be to 'interview' videographers to find out their challenges. What are their revenue streams? What are their greatest challenges in getting new clients? How do they typically gain revenue from the events they shoot? Prioritize your business model around what you learn from speaking with the videographers.

"At this point, your sales pitch really becomes this 'soft call' interview. If you can deliver the business model that those videographers really need and want, then they'll become your client base. You need to focus on finding three to five leading edge users who get really excited about your service. Then you'll be ready to face your next challenge: scaling your company for growth."

The reaction

Jim Kelly

"After we left the meeting with Professor Hallen, we developed a list of videographers and called them to get their feedback. We will certainly apply their comments to our business plan as we move forward.

"Right now, our Web site, www.WebcastingVideo.com, has been completely renovated and is up and working. We are in the go mode."

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