Say, you’re watching a movie online. Or a music video. Or a professional sports game. Whatever.
What if you could instantly find out more information about every product you see in the video? What if, with a single click of a button or a tap of the screen, you could find out what sort of dress she’s wearing, what kind of car he’s driving, or what sort of gear and accessory and equipment they’re using? What if you could buy all these items directly from the video?
In short: What if every video were also an online store?
These are the questions that entrepreneurs Brad Feldkamp and Sean Kilbane hope to answer with the recent launch of Vidzey, an in-video storefront that combines three fast-growing industries: online video, e-commerce, and product placement. Designed to convert video viewers across the globe into shoppers, Vidzey was founded in February 2012 and serves as a platform for more interactive and engaging viewing experiences, where anyone can instantly research about — and purchase — every product featured in an online video.
“Our vision is to provide the link between viewers and Hollywood’s trendsetters,” Feldkamp shares. “An in-video storefront is always open, it’s already stocked with products, and billions of consumers are already browsing the aisles. We think that Vidzey is the missing piece that will transform viewers into shoppers.”
Feldkamp, who started his first business when he was 20 and a sophomore at DePaul University, is thrilled with the launch of Vidzey, the idea for which started as early as 2011. He says:
“After a couple of bumps in the road, utter disasters, and a few technical setbacks, we’ve scaled back, narrowed our market, and pivoted to our newly live current product, which is based on feedback generated by early users and clients.”
Tech Cocktail recently caught up with Feldkamp for an exclusive interview, in which he shared his experience of building Vidzey with his co-founder and friend Kilbane.
Tech Cocktail: Tell us more about how Vidzey started.
Brad Feldkamp: While working in United Talent Agency (UTA) in LA, my co-founder Sean became immersed in the entertainment world, and he noticed some interesting things about the industry. He knew about my experience in startups, so in July 2011, he called me with a problem/idea he was seeing over and over again. Sean found that there was a growing need to better monetize online video content — and an increasing desire for viewers to find out more information about what they were watching. He was hoping we could come up with a solution together.
That’s when Vidzey was born. Instead of Googling what that dress is, or who that actress is, or where she got those sunglasses from… why not just have the information right there on the screen for the viewer to access with one click? We also thought that Vidzey could drive the type of revenue to online videos that the industry has been clamoring for.
We kicked around rough ideas for about six months before arriving on a clear vision for what Vidzey could and should be. Sean quit his job after that, I sold my company in February 2012, and we jumped into Vidzey with both feet.
Tech Cocktail: How did you and Sean meet?
Feldkamp: Sean and I met in the sixth grade when our elementary schools merged. We’ve been friends ever since. We stayed in touch through college; Sean went to Michigan State, and I was at DePaul. We always caught up when visiting home — Ann Arbor — for holiday breaks. After college we went our separate ways. Sean headed to LA where he got his start in entertainment at UTA, and I stayed in Chicago and continued to run my fitness and nutrition company.
Tech Cocktail: Why Vidzey? What kind of potential do you see in the industry?
Feldkamp: Content has shifted from traditional platforms to online platforms. When we first started, just a little over 1 percent was consumed online. Now, it’s close to 3 percent. In fact, 183 million Americans watched more than 44 billion videos online in June 2013, and that’s up from 180 million and 32 billion, respectively, from June 2012. As content continues to move online, the opportunity for Vidzey only grows.
Tech Cocktail: What’s the startup community in LA like, based on your experience?
Feldkamp: Things are just getting started here in LA. We’ll always be the “little brother” to Silicon Valley, but there are some pretty great things happening down here as well. There are some things native to LA that set the community here apart from Silicon Valley and other startup communities elsewhere. The convergence of technology and Hollywood, for example, is pretty exciting and seems to be a good match. And I believe that entertainment, fashion, and celebrity can merge with LA-based startups unlike anywhere else.
Tech Cocktail: As an entrepreneur, what’s one thing you’ve done successfully that you would recommend others to do as well?
Feldkamp: I never listened to the naysayers. I let the negative noise go in one ear and out the other. I encourage other young entrepreneurs to do the same, because people are going to attempt to discourage you. The motives will range from concern to jealousy and everything in-between, but the message will be the same. They’ll tell you to get a real job with a salary, benefits, and a 401k. They’ll tell you that you aren’t smart enough, or that someone else is going to beat you to it. And my favorite is when they ask, “What makes you think you can do it?” My advice is, don’t listen. Don’t even dignify those people with a response. If you’re passionate about something, go for it!
Guest author Chris Campbell is the founder and CEO of Review Trackers, a leading online review monitoring and management platform for local business owners looking to track, analyze, and generate reviews on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, and Foursquare. You can follow Chris on Twitter @chrisrcampbell and @reviewtrackers.