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This NYC Startup Casually Raises $13M So You Wont Have to Read the News

 

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Have you noticed more and more video content on your newsfeed? Media experts across the world have found that more and more people are attracted to video to digest their news and naturally the biggest names are trusting Wochit. The smart video platform is providing high-quality video content on all available topics that are easily shareable. With big companies such as Daily News, USA Today and NowThis using the platform, you’ve probably been exposed to the the company’s platform capabilities without even knowing it.

AlleyWatch chatted with CEO and cofounder Dror Ginzberg about the company’s most recent round of funding aand what’s on the horizon for Wochit.

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

I’m pleased to disclose that we raised a series C round totaling $13M, including investment from some of the world’s biggest media brands (who also happen to be existing Wochit customers): ProSiebenSat.1, Singapore Press Holdings’ SPH Media Fund and Carlo de Benedetti.

As part of the round, we also received funds from several of our previous investors including Redpoint, Marker LLC, and Cedar Fund.

We think this is an incredible testament to the value of our service and a great indicator of our massive global growth. SPH Media Fund is the corporate venture capital arm of Asia’s leading media group, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH, whose properties include The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao, The Business Times, AsiaOne and Stomp. ProSiebenSat.1 Digital, one of the biggest media companies in Germany, has premier brands including ProSieben, Sat.1, Sixx and Kabel Eins.

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Dror Ginzberg

Tell us about the product or service.

Wochit is a video creation tool that’s solving some the biggest challenges faced by content producers like media and publishing companies. With the increase in demand for video content across digital channels, companies need to be able to quickly develop timely content at scale.

Besides easing the labor and resource-intensive video production process, Wochit helps with technological challenges posed by the emergence of social platforms and the rise of mobile. Our tools for social optimization enable simple customization for each specific platform, making it possible to create one piece of content that adjusts to fit each platform accordingly such as Facebook or Instagram.

How is it different?

Wochit is a cloud-based, SaaS platform unlike any other product. While we bring automation into the production process, we know that the results of a totally automated production process are…let’s just say, not great.

With Wochit, we have automation combined with a human touch. This “semi-automated” approach leaves room for more expressiveness, brand personality and overall differentiation.

Another Wochit feature that is unique to our platform is social optimization. Using these tools, our customers can rapidly adjust video aspect ratio for maximal exposure on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Not only does this include support for vertical, wide, traditional and square formats, we can do centering and cropping, automatic fit of text overlays and one-click native uploads.

Lastly, to ensure creators can produce studio-quality video in minutes, we have a unique content library from which customers can pull pre-licensed assets from top providers like Reuters and Getty along with music selections and even services for creating voice overs.

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

Wochit is primarily aimed at media companies and publishers. We work with a number of large news organizations around the world and have customers that represent “new,” “traditional,” and “digital native” media. This includes publications ranging from USA Today to web-only upstarts like NowThis.

A couple great examples of “traditional” media companies that are going all in on video are Time Inc. and France’s L’Opinion. Time Inc. publicly pledged to post 40,000 videos across their properties this year alone, whereas L’Opinion made a new Facebook-only, video-centric brand called “O’Play” to reach younger audiences. Wochit is a partner of both of these companies and we’re proud to be an important part of their forward-looking strategy.

On a global scale, this is a giant market that will only grow as the appetite for short-form video continues its upward trajectory. And this isn’t only among media companies, but really any type of organization looking to engage audiences. For example, we have some non-profits like Salvation Army and Change.org as customers.

What is the business model?

Wochit’s most common pricing is pay per video and we do have revenue sharing deals with some customers. Pay per video is an excellent value for our customers because they know how much a piece costs ahead of time and they are capable of projecting a positive ROI.

What inspired the business?

With a long history in online video – I’ve been involved with it since the 1990s, which was the stone age of the internet – I have a great sense of media tech timing. Wochit formed as a response to my prediction that a seismic shift was coming.

I recognized that the production and delivery of dynamic content was going to become an essential business function, and I realized that publishers were underprepared. I envisioned Wochit as the solution to the complexities of a new media landscape. By giving them the ability to create compelling video around trending topics, we’re helping them engage audiences and remain competitive, if not ahead of the curve.

This round included a mix of strategic and venture investors.

How do you go about managing all the voices at the table?

To date, we’ve been really fortunate in that regard. All of our investors understand our value proposition. We’ve never felt there were any conflicting interests. In fact, it’s always been evident that we’re all on the same page.

What was the funding process like?

Fundraising is never easy. In this case, the initiation came from our big clients. Because they know the tremendous value that our platform delivers to them, they wanted to take a stake in our ongoing development. With enterprises involved, the process was a bit different (and took a bit longer) than a traditional VC round. It was worth it to know our investors are completely on board with our mission.

What are the Biggest Challenges that you faced while raising capital?

In any financing round, one of the most difficult things is ensuring that your potential investors share your vision. It’s much easier to build the belief in the product and marketplace when the investor already uses the product.

 

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

As they were already customers, investors knew first hand the value we offer. They also noted our clear and significant traction, signified by the growth in usage of the platform and its accompanying growth in revenue.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

We’re looking to expand our business around the world, including forging new partnerships with media companies, publishers and other content creators. We’ve recently made great inroads in Asia and are looking to continue growing in that geography amongst others. We also look forward to adding new tools and features to our platform to ensure it’s the most robust of its type.

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

Go out and get funded!

New York offers a wealth of opportunities for funding. Focus your efforts on opportunities that you believe are the best fit for your goals. This will not only be the path of least resistance, but that which is most likely to be successful.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

We’re continuing to expand. Our business is growing very quickly, and we expect to triple in 2017. In tandem with that growth, we plan to focus on feedback from customers and understanding their end audiences in order to deliver a great product that will help them succeed.

Where is your favorite fall destination in the city?

Fall is a great time to be in New York City, especially when the temperatures remain comfortable like they have this year. With my travel schedule, I don’t get nearly enough time to enjoy the vibrant colors as the leaves change, and I wish I had more time to spend in Central Park instead of the “concrete jungle” that is Midtown.

About the author: AlleyWatch

AlleyWatch is the destination for startup news; opinions and reviews; investment and product information; events reported, experienced, seen, heard and overheard here in New York. But it’s who we are that makes us different: we’re the writers and the entrepreneurs; the investors and the mentors; the lawyers and the marketers; the realtors and the recruiters – the people who work in the industry.

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