Zipidee's Henry Wong wants to help self-help experts

John Shinal · January 18, 2008 · Short URL:

Every consumer-facing startup with a chance of success should be solving a problem that's shared by a critical mass of people.

Zipidee founder and CEO Henry Wong says his digital-goods marketplace is doing just that for anyone who's ever created or sold an educational or instructional video or audiotape.

In the past, "self-help experts would have to get an agent, who would have to get a publisher, who would have to get a distributor," Wong says. Months later, the creator would finally get their product to market, but "end up giving away 80 percent" of the financial value they created, according to Wong.

"We wanted to build a marketplace where they can control the entire distribution and get their product to market in minutes instead of months," he says.

The San Francisco-based startup has begun to compile a broad catalog of titles. It's current best-seller list has videos on subjects ranging from hip-hop dance and skiing to playing poker and making love according to the Kama Sutra.

"We want to power digital distribution on the Web," Wong says of Zipidee, which acquires the digital rights of multimedia titles in exchange for a 20 percent cut of the revenue they generate. The biggest sellers, out of more than 600 on the site right now, are big instructional market players like Gold Hill Publishing that have a large number of titles.

The best-selling title categories are instructional/educational, health and fitness, action sports and animation, according to Wong. 

In this interview with Bambi Francisco, Wong argues that Zipidee's business model will survive competition from ad-supported sites that show free instructional videos.

"You get what you pay for," says Wong, who adds that Zipidee's library features professionally-produced titles which have already built an audience offline. "We're just helping the creators bring that online," he says. 

Those creators "are never going to give stuff away on Expert Village or places like that because they would be cannibalize their existing audience," he says.

Zipidee, which raised a Series A round in June, 2007, is in the middle of raising a Series B round of $5 - $7 million that will get Zipidee to profitability by the fourth quarter of 2008, according to Wong. 

To see Wong's pitch for Zipidee, which several members of the community have taken to task for its loud music, click here. You can see Wong sharing advice for other entrepreneurs here

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