On 31 March 2021 Simon Thomsen interviewed Justin Wastnage, founder of collaborative video platform Vloggi on the close of the company's pre-seed raise.
The venture is now looking to close a seed round of A$1.5-2 million in July this year. Ten of Vloggi’s 15 founding investors took part in the raise, including CEO and founder Justin Wastnage, and Brendan Leonard, co-founder of Capiotech.
Founded in 2018, Vloggi describes itself as the world’s first collaborative video production platform using AI to process, sort and annotate user-generated video for use by businesses and social groups.
"Welcome back, you're watching Startup Daily on ausbizTV live from Sydney's Barangaroo from 2 to 2:40pm every weekday afternoon.
I'm Simon Thompson. Great to have your company.
Now Sydney video startup company Vloggi has just completed a $750,000 pre-seed round and it's not standing still.
It's now looking within the next couple of months for a seed raise.
To tell us more about his plans for the startup founder and CEO Justin Wastnage joins us in the studio.
Justin, great to have you in."
"Congrats - always feels good to get one under the belt especially during the crazy year we've had. Tell us a bit about the raise and tell us about your plans"
"Thanks and you're right it is kind of a relief but then we're already planning the next one, right, so essentially $750,000 is the cumulative of two rounds that were interrupted during COVID.
Essentially we had done $250,000 in 2019 and we were raising $500,000 last year we got $350,000 of it committed and then COVID hits and we went back to stage one. You know so lots of the people who would even sign term sheets and stuff had come back and recoiled and then we didn't reopen it again because we didn't need to because we got rid of some staff and we reassessed the market and then in October last year we just went out another push and we got another large investor put $100,000 on the table. It's smart money as well from the media, the video world and then we just completed it."
"Fantastic. Now, you're so impressed you bought into the company as well? You are one of the investors in that round. There's a little bit of a family feel in terms of the people who work there the investors in the business as well as some external experts?"
"Yeah that's right, so look, 15 of the 20 initial investors reinvested and then we also have lots of advisors and contractors who have also taken equity instead of or as well as cash for their services. So we do have lots of people actively involved because it's one of those products that as soon as you see it you just realize how it's going to disrupt the video world."
"Well, we are just looking at this product on screen at the moment so just tell us a little bit more about Vloggi and what you guys do?"
"So essentially it's a user-generated video production platform and what it does is it automates the video production with overlays and graphics and stuff and that's all done automatically so that nobody has to do those.
And it captures things like, for example, when I came in the bottom of my name was strapped, my company, somebody had to do that whereas our platform does that because it automatically gets the data and feeds all the online graphics.
But the interesting thing is that the footage is actually sourced from the customers or the colleagues or the community of our customers."
"So do you see this is potentially changing the way media works? I'm sure my producer Leah's ears just pricked up then knowing how hard she works if she gets a helping hand I'm sure there's an enormous appeal.
Where do you see the customers?"
"I see two main source of customers;
- traditional marketing agencies that need to for whatever reason crowdsource so earlier this year we saw Coca-Cola do a Big Shout-Out campaign you know "tell us how you'd like your cans to be labeled". That costs an agency $250,000 to produce and it's great but with our technology you can do that for about a thousand dollars a year. So any any marketing brand that wants to crowdsource videos from many different locations. We've seen some interest already from the New South Wales government using it for a virtual event.
- But then later on we actually have a full automation suite that enables anybody in e-commerce to get video reviews from their customers and it's already packaged up in their colors and in their branding."
"Now you as part of this raise you've got Tarryn Myburgh, a video producer, she's I think joining your board as well as being head of video and an investor. Tell us what impact that having Tarryn there is going to have on the business."
"Basically, we worked together on a project and she just looked at our system (and she runs a video production company) and she looked and went "you guys are going to completely disrupt our industry". "I'm going to get in," she said. "What your system did in half an hour would have taken me, and I'm fast". This is her talking: "would have taken me a week to do" so as soon as she saw that she's like: "I need to be in there" so she invested a large chunk of money and joined the board.
And it's great because in actual fact she's now giving our videos a huge sense of professionalism.
Not only does she understand it from the client's point of view but she also understands the visuals and what works on video. Previously I had been designing all of the templates now she's taken over that and really bringing that professionalism in."
"So you've just done some upgrades that you launched I think this month. Tell us a little bit about those and how that will change because I think there's some API functionality in there amongst other things."
"So we've released an open API version of our software. We do have a review company, a tyre review company, down in Tasmania using us they were the pilot for the API so basically, they're using their database and on their sites, you can just upload a video and rather than asking a customer anything we just take the video file from their end customer and then their database and marry them together and spit out an automated video review.
So they were the pilot customer and now we've rolled that out to others. We're in serious talks with a federal government agency to automate around 200,000 video reviews. And this is the scale of it right so we're talking to a travel company that wants to do as a limited pilot 46,000 videos a month and then and then scale up."
"46,000 is the pilot?"
"That's the pilot they're an Australian arm of a Chinese company but that's kind of the scale, so really the API will allow us to do mass automation of customer videos."
"So three years old now in always-be-raising mode because you're coming back for, I think, $1.5 to $2 million in a seed round.
Tell us a little bit about that and the people you will be looking for as investors."
"So look, for that raise, we're actually talking to the family office of a venture capital firm and that's and they have we're in negotiations and it will depend on this on the term sheet as to whether we would go with them, but essentially that's the kind of people we're looking for.
We're looking for family offices and maybe high net worth individuals for this raise because we've still got a lot of, you know...
The product is built we've got traction, we've got revenue we've got customers, we just need to build on that before going to venture capital firms. We have talked to some venture capital firms in this round but we probably think we're a little bit too early. We probably think family offices high net worth individuals for this for the seed round and then series A next year with the big boys."
"So nail that one. Where do you see yourselves in five years? Tarryn thinks you're going to completely destroy and rebuild the video industry, what is
Vloggi going to be actually?"
"To be fair to her she doesn't like doing all of the boring stuff she's like "I want to be doing high-end productions and this automates the low-end stuff" and that's kind of where we will be right? So there are 620 million Facebook groups in the world they all need to have a weekly TV show. The only way they can do it is to get the video from their community and use our system, or other ones like us, to stitch it together. There's nobody else like us yet but there will be.
You know this sort of community-based TV that's where we see ourselves being."
"Absolutely amazing! Well, Justin, thanks for coming in today to tell us about Vloggi.
Congrats on the raise. Look forward to talking to you again as you nail the next one and take over the world. Thanks for your time. Thank you."