In a crowded field of How-to video sites Graspr has been innovating and expanding beyond its reach as a video destination site. In December 2008, Graspr joined the Glam Media network as a video content provider. I had the opportunity to speak with Graspr founder and CEO Teresa Phillips before the new year about the recent Glam Media syndication deal, their innovative gCard™ and how Graspr differentiates itself from other How-to sites as an instructional video network. The Grapsr web site emphasises community sharing and this past week Grapsr integrated Facebook Connect to allow video producers to login using their Facebook accounts, and invite friends to share the wealth of knowledge available on the site.
Launched in September 2007 by Teresa Phillips, a former executive at both Yahoo and Time Warner, Graspr raised $2.5 million in Series A funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and angel investors and is a privately-held company based in Mountain View, California. Graspr is the world's leading instructional video network with over 30,000 videos under 17 different categories from producers and experts across major lifestyle markets, Graspr defines itself as the only site where learners, users, and creators of videos can edit, watch, collaborate on, and syndicate to make money from instructional videos. Previously, in October 2008 Grapsr released an advanced video player widget called the “gCard” that carries the identity of a video creator wherever his or her video gets embedded across the net. The gCard is available for free to every producer who uploads their videos to Graspr or any user who creates a collection of videos on Graspr. According to Teresa Phillips, "Graspr's gCard" uniquely enables producers of instructional videos to promote themselves within the videos they produce. The gCard is seamlessly embedded within every video a producer publishes, and is available to viewers via an on-screen icon that, when clicked, displays the producer's contact details and specialties, and showcases the producer's entire video gallery. The gCard creates a persistent presence for the producer in that it accompanies all videos at all times, whether a producer or user shares individual videos themselves or the videos are distributed through Graspr's syndication network of several thousand sites. The gCard allows producers to interact with their community at all times, promote their brand and expertise across the Internet and monetize their video content. Click here to see an example.
In my conversation with Teresa Phillips, she spoke at length about her passion in creating new markets and product categories for experiential knowledge and that Grapr's purpose is to purpose is to help deliver that knowledge to the people who seek it. The following is part one of a two-part interview that took place following their big announcement that Graspr had joined Glam Media network.
Larry Kless: It's real exciting news has it hit the airwaves Graspr Goes Glam, The How-to space for video has gotten really big in the last year.
Teresa Phillips: Yes, really exciting. It's certainly been validated over the last year or so. There are companies with a lot of traction and we're all taking a different approach and I think we're reaching critical mass, especially in terms of producers and people who are creating. If you look at the top uses of online video where people are spending their time on the consumption side, still instructional doesn't make it to the Top 10 but we're moving up in the ranks. If you look in the economy, I read this morning the number of new unemployment applications file last month were the most in 26 years, 2 millions people have lost their jobs this year. So people are looking ways to moonlight, make money from their expertise as well as do things themselves to save money. we've increased our traffic in the last couple of months and I think it's from the economy. It's just a natural direct result.
LK: Congratulations on your partnership with Glam and also with Diet.com. Can you talk about Grapr's syndication model?
TP: Our strategy has always been about syndication. I think it's difficult to build a big destination site and I'm not sure that the future of the Internet. everything is more about componentization, widgetization and so we've always sought to help content creators develop high impact videos and package those videos so that they're more easily discoverable through search engines and distribute them across the tens of thousands of sites who have text only and are looking for video by either lack the content or the technical infrastructure. So from day one we've always been about syndication.
The nice thing about instructional video is that learning pertains to all of what we do in life and it's very relevant to any type of site whether it's a community site in how people come together an learn or a retail site in merchants teaching their customers about products, how to use products, hot to fix products to sell more products, so it's very relevant. We've targeted lists in each content category of 1000s of web sites who have community, who have very targeted audiences where there's a lot of customer participation and interactivity and we approach them to offer them instructional high quality videos.
After I launched the company I spent about six months talking to producers trying to understand what they were doing with their businesses. And out of that work came four unmet needs that I heard. One of them was, "Help me build a brand online." So we have a lot of people who have brick and mortar businesses or side jobs or hobbies of passion but they don't know how to build a brand online. The second one was they said, "Help me stay connected to my audience." Because if they upload their video to YouTube or any other site they completely become disconnected from their content and don't even know who's watching their content and they can't build a relationship with their viewers. The third thing they said was, "Take me into deep rich vertical audiences where people are gathered talking about something I know something about so we can have meaningful rich discussions." And the last one was, "Help me monetize my content." So Grapsr's entire platform which we launched in July 2008 was built to satisfy those four unmet needs.
LK: How did you launch Graspr?
TP: We launched our beta product at Demo Fall 2007 and that's where I said I went out and talked to producers. We kind of stayed quiet and we didn't do a single press release for probably seven or eight months. That's when I spent the time holding bi-weekly and monthly conference calls with all these producers and kind of mini-focus groups to develop our syndication platform and our content creation tools. We also are a big SEO shop. We've invested a lot in creating meta data within and around the video. That allows us to make our videos more searchable. We add the meta data as scenes so learners or viewers can jump to the part of the video that interests them without having to watch it in a linear way. So we launched, then went quiet and relaunched our syndication platform and whole package in July 2008.
LK: Graspr uses an algorithm and human search to find videos. Is that how you initially launched and reached out to the producers?
TP: Yes we did, we built what we call a feed manager application that listens for RSS feeds and we also have crawlers that find instructional video and in the beginning we just aggregated and then reached out in parallel and after that fact. Now that we've gotten the word out and are a lot more popular through word of mouth we're only accepting 30-40% of the videos that we get. So all of our producers are actually registered members now before we have seen their videos. That's how we seeded the service with content.
LK: Had you been developing gCard for sometime?
TP: We're actually working on the commerce. I showed the commerce component today in a demo to some people. We filed a patent on it earlier this year. We have been thinking about and working on it. There's a lot of stuff we've already done that's not available yet. As you can see the gCard™ really went to the heard of help me stay connected to my audience where ever my video is embedded across the Internet and let them reach out to me directly as well as let me show what else I've been doing, give me credit for my work. Then finally it's about the viral distribution of it and ultimately commerce.
LK: And it allows for the hyper-syndication especially though Glam Media's network. So in terms of distributing on Glam, will we see the gCard™?
TP: In the beginning you won't see the gCard™ on Glam because it doesn't fit their model but we're in discussions with then about applying the gCard™ on a broader scale beyond Graspr content. In fact we're in discussions with some other video sites that interested in licensing the gCard™ for their own videos that are outside the instructional genre. So I just think it has universal appeal for producers and the hosted providers to help monetize some of the video. While you won't see it today I hope to work the gCard™ into our partnership with Glam.
End of Interview Part One
Graspr/Glam Press Release: GRASPR GOES GLAM
- Graspr (sharing the wealth of knowledge): Unleashing Experiential Knowledge
- Vator.tv - Graspr, Inc. company profile
- VatorNews - Graspr muscles it way into how-to game
- VatorNews - Get the product out
- TechCrunch - Instructor Identities Can Now Roam With Graspr’s New Video Player
- Mashable - Graspr's gCard is an Embeddable Business Card for Video Producers
- Graspr teams with Diet.com to distribute online video | Webware - CNET
- Follow Graspr on Twitter: Twitter / graspr_team