Social video platform Switchcam announced a funding round of $1.2 million today, led by Mark Cuban. The startup will use that funding to help it build out its online event video creation platform, and to help it partner more with the brands and artists that have embraced the startup’s vision, as well as expand to new areas and hire more talent. Cuban is a natural fit for Switchcam, due to his interest in startups tackling the future of video, and since he owns properties (like the Dallas Mavericks) that would benefit from a tool that can capitalize on capturing and promoting live events.
Launched last year, Switchcam is the product of Australian entrepreneurs Brett Welch and Chris Hartley, and aims to capitalize on the natural tendencies people already have to want to shoot video of live events and then share said video on services like YouTube. Using its own special mix of unique technology, Switchcam automatically tracks, identifies and syncs video shot at events, combining them into a multi-camera collaborative effort that site visitors can interact with to select different angles for viewing.
According to Welch, Switchcam’s biggest opportunities lie not necessarily in helping individual users experience concerts shot and by their fellows, but in helping brands get lasting value out of something that at one time was very much a temporary opportunity.
“Brands spend over $70 billion a year on sponsorships, and those sponsorships end on the day,” he said. “There’s no way to extend those sponsorships beyond, because all the content gets spread across Instagram, across YouTube, wherever. Our initial thinking was we’d build this, and fans would love it, and then we’d partner with brands to sell sponsorships so that brands could own the experience after the event as well.”
While the idea started there, it’s become something that event organizers and artists themselves are interested in, too. That’s led to a slight shift in focus, with Switchcam looking to sell its services not only as a brandable product for sponsors, but as a way for content creators to engage audiences.
“Now we’re in talks with cable networks and with some large concert promoters to augment their footage with fan footage, and also to provide interactive multi-camera experiences for professional footage as well,” Welch said. “And that’s where Media Camp comes in.” Media Camp is an accelerator backed by Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. which is aimed at helping startups get customers and scale quickly, rather than at helping them secure funding and connect with investors. Switchcam is one of its first class of six companies unveiled last week.
Switchcam’s model of social video curation is gaining steam just as others appear to be coming around to the idea; LA-based Vyclone, for instance, also employs cloud-based data-crunching tech to sync up video feeds from a variety of sources around a single event, and Groovideo, which we covered earlier today, lets friends collaborate remotely on a combined video greeting for pals.
Rather than presenting competition for the young company, Welch told us that these other players actually validate Switchcam’s belief that now is the time to start working with a product that provides users with access to social video creation tools. And since each company approaches the idea from different angles, he thinks there’s plenty of room for everyone to see if they’ve got an approach users will respond to.
Users appear to be responding well to Switchcam’s approach; Welch said the company is tracking the average user session on the site at over 20 minutes. Now that the site is making explicit efforts to add sports and news events to its repertoire, and hiring on new engineers to help fuel its product development, it’ll be interesting to watch how it fares in the bourgeoning market.