Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Creating a Passive Income with Video on Demand Education

In today's blog, I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you about a trend that you NEED to jump on.  Why?  Because it will make you a fortune.  And...you will meet your needs - whether you need money, love, power, control, or whatever it might be.  Teaching people will help you learn more than ever.

I'm a Video Author...Just Like You!
For the past 2 years I’ve been making money selling my training classes online.  As you can tell from my blog or if you know me, you know that I’m a technical guy, a developer, a geek, so I developed the InteliVideo platform for myself.  I’ve been making money selling my technical knowledge and training people 24 hours a day 7 days a week, while I do other things.  I simply recorded once, put a price on it and it sells over and over.  I built this platform with others in mind - specifically people like you.  I wanted to share my money making platform with people like you so that you too can make money from your knowledge.  In this article, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know in order to do this yourself.  We have a number of people who are making a living through our platform.  I hope this inspires you to write and record something and start selling it right away!

Who am I?  
If you've followed me, you know that I’ve sold 2 large enterprise businesses.  My first large business, TUSC had about 400 employees when we sold the business to Rolta in 2008.  That was an Oracle consulting business.  My second business, InteliVideo was a residential real estate valuation company.  We sold that business to Equifax in 2011.  

I’ve been educating people about technology for more than 30 years.  My first job was at Pioneer Hi-Bred.  They were seed company.  Seed for farmers.  Farmers sold seed to other farmers through Pioneer.  I offered word processing and other courses to the sales guys and their admins - typically their spouse.  They loved those courses.  I’ve been training people for as long as I can remember.  My current offerings often turn into consulting opportunities for others.  If I was available to do the consulting myself, the courses would turn into consulting opportunities for me.

Who are you?  
What is your dream?  I’d like you to stop and think about that for a minute.  What do you want to get done with your life?  Do you want fame?  fortune?  Are you altruistic?  Are you looking for a passive income?  In other words, would you like to make money while you do other things?  Maybe you want to make money while you’re designing, developing, producing your next course?

Have you ever studied your needs vs. your wants?  I personally have a need to write.  I have a need to do mechanic things too.  I used to get frustrated whenever I worked on mechanical projects.  Typically because I didn’t have the proper amount of time needed to complete the task.  I took the Brinkman assessment and learned all about my needs vs. my wants.  Maybe you have a need to tell stories.  Or to share with others.

Like I said, take some time to think about this.  Stop what you're doing right now and spend 30 minutes or a day thinking about this.  One of my favorite exercises I ever did was when I was asked to write a letter to myself .  I wrote the letter, which outlined my expectations for myself, I sealed it and mailed it to myself.  I kept it in a drawer for years.  I was at a point in my life where I was disappointed with myself.  I always remembered and referred back to what I wrote in that letter.  It drove me for years to come.

Figure out what you want to share with others.  What you want your legacy to be!

InteliVideo's Misson
Our goal at InteliVideo is to have 10,000 customers by 2015.  Profitable customers.  People like you who are ALL making money!

The Path to Your Success
I’m going to show you how to come up with your ideas on what to teach (or entertain), how to write your lessons, how to record them, how easy it is to upload them, group them into a product, set a price, publish and get online.  You can do this within hours.  Then I’m going to explain how you market, promote and sell your education materials.  If you follow these steps you’ll be on your way to making a TON of money!  Best of all, I’m going to show you how to do this without giving away the profits to places like Apple / iTunes, Google, Amazon and the large marketplaces that take most of your money.  I’m going to show you how to build a business that will provide you with a full time income and full time freedom.  It’s the American dream to have a passive income!

The Trend - DVDs to VoD
There is a new trend that completely changes the game for you.  Producing movies and educational content in the past was hard work.  To produce a DVD was REALLY hard work.  Today, using this new trend you can make a career by simply sharing your knowledge with others.  I’d like to see you profit from this new trend and leverage it.  It’s important to start with the right foundation so you can build on it.  The real beauty of all of this is that you can do it with nearly zero budget.

Video is quickly moving from DVDs to video on demand.  DVDs were very difficult to produce.  Not only did you have to create a master DVD, but just to get to that point you had to hire videographers, editors, and others.  Then once you created your master, you had to decide if you were going to produce 1 at a time or if you were going to produce thousands.  The more you purchased, the less you paid per DVD, but the more you didn’t sell, the more you effectively paid per DVD.  Then once you had 1000 copies of your DVD you had to decide if you were going to “self publish” it - just like writing a book...or if you were going to find a distributor to represent your DVD.  Distributors are just like the modern day Amazon, iTunes, Roku, Netflix and other marketplaces...they take most of your profits.  

Back to the trend - with the advent of YouTube and high speed Internet connections, the bottom line is that consumers like watching videos over the Internet.  They and their kids like watching videos on their devices - iPhones, iPads, Android tablets, laptops, desktops, you name it.  A better experience for the average Joe is to watch a downloaded video.  That way you don’t have to deal with streaming the video, waiting for it to buffer, and the like.  Additionally, if you’re disconnected from the Internet when you’re on a plane, train or automobile, you’ll still be able to watch a downloaded video.

But wait, what’s happened to DVDs?  They actually aren’t playable by most devices today.  Look around.  You don’t see DVD players on iPhones, iPads, or even laptops or even TVs!  Why not?  We’ve gone digital.  Everything is in the cloud!  Many of the historical DVD shops have closed their doors.  Those still in business say their business is 1/10 of what it once was too!  Profit margins are slim.

What about Distributors?
So let’s talk a little more about the distributors.  For example, let’s take Netflix.  What if you could smooze them into taking on your video content for sale.  Yes, they have a channel to market.  Yes, they have customers.  But how would the math work for you video?  Let’s just say that in one month they collect $1M that they plan to distribute to all content owners like you.  For simple math, let’s say that 1 million minutes were watched that month - from all of the content owners - including you.  In this case, Netflix would pay $1 per minute of video that was watched.  Then they add up how many of those minutes were your videos.  Let’s say you had 90 minutes watched that month.  They would cut you a check for $90.

How many customers did you get from Netflix?  Not one.  They aren’t your customers.  They are their customers.  How many people watched your videos?  It doesn’t matter - it might have been 900 or 1.  We’ll talk more about why this model doesn’t work.  Whether it’s Netflix or Amazon or iTunes or whoever.  The real money is in the customer for life.  This sale and every sale thereafter.  In the consulting business we always knew that it was MUCH easier for us to find more business from our existing customers than it was to find a new customer.

Traditional video production is also a dying or diminishing trend.  It’s NOT booming.  It’s NOT a wave to catch.  Some would say it’s dead too.  

All of this is GREAT news for you!  NOW is the best time to publish your video education series.  The profits are AMAZING!  You can keep as much as 90 cents of EVERY dollar.  And...the starting costs are SUPER low!  You might need a video camera, but your phone or tablet likely has one that’s good enough.  You might need a microphone, but those are pretty inexpensive.  

The real beauty here is that there is NO shipping or logistics required for your product.  There is NO physical product to deal with.  You don’t have to produce 1000s of DVDs before you make your first sale.  There is also no middle man or distributor required.  Quite often you can sell material without any production costs too.

So take charge!  Now is the time!

One Hit Wonder or Customers for Life?
Although a HUGE one hit wonder might be enough to satisfy your income requirements, a long term topic or theme can much more rewarding.  For example, let’s say you want to create a video about washing your dog.  Although that by itself might be an interesting and rewarding video series because you could talk about washing your dog regularly, washing your muddy dog, washing your oily dog, washing your dog after it got sprayed by a skunk and so on...it would be ideal if you could offer a website and a number of video series about dogs.  Washing dogs, caring for a puppy, caring for an aging dog, knowing when it might be time to put your dog down, when you should take a dog to a vet, the benefits of Benadryl with dogs and so many other topics you might cover.

In other words, it’s good to have a long term video of everything you plan to provide about a topic, which ideally could go pretty broad.  This is called a roadmap.  You don’t necessarily need to have your entire roadmap outlined before you create your first video, but it might be a good idea to know that there are “enough” topics you can create video products about that will provide a long term revenue stream for you.

One real benefit of video on demand over DVDs is that video on demand products are “living documents.”  You can change them as times change.  You can add new content as you see fit.  You can charge a “maintenance fee” for your customers to receive up-to-date content.

Ideation is tough.  You can tackle this one of 2 ways.  What I call top down or bottom up.  A top down approach would involve documenting every problem that you hear people talk about.  For this exercise, ideally the problem can be solved with video education.  Next you would figure out how to solve each problem and sizing up the market of each solution.

The bottom up approach, which is the one I prefer for this exercise is to list all of the topics that you could teach through video-based education.  There is a term used in business, which is SME or subject matter expert.  What are you a SME in?  For me, I know a lot about geospatial data, real estate, fixing and flipping homes, technical topics like Oracle, starting a business, teaching college courses, and the list goes on.  Then I looked which topics I already had material for and the economic value of each of the above subject areas.  I decided to start my education series around Oracle education since I already had training materials written in this area.

What are you a SME in?  What could you teach others about?  How much could you sell an online education for?  Stop the video and start writing your list.  Then take your list to people who know you and I’ll bet they help you come up with another 20 topics that you could make money teaching about!

Writing Your Material
Once you’ve selected your topic, you’ll need to create your teaching script.  The last thing you’ll want to write (and record) is your introduction and conclusion.  It’s easiest to do your introduction once you’ve written everything in the middle.

I often use PowerPoint or Keynote to create my training materials like these.  Remember that you can always refine your educational series so don’t over-think what you to include.  Unlike DVDs, you don’t have a limit on the amount of material that will fit on a DVD either!

Create an overall outline for video product.  We call this a video series.  A video series is a bundling of a number of videos.  You can always change the order that the videos are presented to the user in.  Like I said, it’s like a living book!  Your overall outline should basically be your chapters, lessons or individual videos in your series.  Then you’ll need to create an outline for each chapter.

I like to create a separate PowerPoint / outline and slides for each chapter/video.  Once your outline is finished, you can create your slides.  For some people, this is a quick process.  For others, it’s a long process.  Whatever the case for you, focus on a solid design and you’ll have a solid offering.

Think about what you hope to accomplish with each and every chapter or lesson.  As Mark Twain basically said, “if I had more time I would have written a shorter letter.”  In other words, getting to the point takes more time.  Take the time!

Recording and Editing
Once your presentation slides are done, it’s time to record your lessons.  If you’re covering a technical topic like this, that you can cover solely with voice overs on PowerPoints, you can use Apple’s Quicktime, which is free to record your session.  

If you’re doing a lesson on tractor repair, you will need to record you in front or inside of a tractor.  You can certainly have a professional video created that would require editing.  In this case, you’ll need wireless microphones, professional video people and more.  This can run $10,000 a day including your producer.

I use a USB microphone and Screenflow to record these lessons.  Let’s take a look at QuickTime and Screenflow and how they work.

Create an InteliVideo Account
Once you have your videos created, it’s time to create an account on InteliVideo and get those videos in the Cloud.  We have a series of videos that will walk you through this process on help.intelivideo.com.  Once you create an account, you can create a Stripe account too.

I want to share and acronym and meaning with you that should be helpful.  It’s MVP, which stands for minimally viable product.  You need to have “enough” videos to create your first product.  You don’t need to have the entire product complete - in fact, it might never be “finished.”  You just need enough to please your first customers.  How many lessons is that?  Well, that’s a bit tough to say.  I offered 50 lessons, which are 5-20 minutes each for just $49.99 when I first started.  Others offer 10 lessons that are about 30 minutes each for $200 while others do full video production and offer an entire session for $3.99.  

It all comes back to the value of what you’re providing your customers.  But getting back to the point, don’t go too far beyond your MVP before you get it in the market.  Why?  Because you want to get constant feedback and the only way to get feedback is to have customers.  So get your MVP done and get going today!

One great thing about a product like this is that you can “play” with the price.  You can change it as often as you would like.  Just be careful not to mention the price in your teaser video.

Oh yes, there is another term that is important to know about.  Your teaser video explains what you’re selling.  It’s your sales video.  Potential customers will only be able to watch a couple of minutes of the “real content.”  You’ll want to watch the analytics about your teaser video.  

Oh, there’s another term.  Analytics.  These are the reports and graphs that explain the details of who’s doing what with your videos.  Which videos your customers are watching.  How much of your teaser video is being watched?

If you haven’t created your teaser video by this time, you’re going to want to really think about what you’re going to include in this video.  I like to watch other people’s teasers to get ideas.  Once you have your MVP, you’re ready to go live.  If you’re teaching people about saving money, do they have “enough” to start saving money?  If you’re teaching them about weight loss, can they start losing weight?

Once you’ve uploaded your videos, you can group them into a product.  We call this a video series.  As long as you’ve created a Stripe account, you can set a price on the video series and you’re ready to start selling.  You can change the price any time!

Now it’s time to talk about marketing your video series.  SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (Google Ad Words) are important, but if you have an existing customer or friend base that might be interested in your educational content, it’s time to market to those friends.  You can pay for marketing on Facebook too.

Promotion through Facebook, Twitter and other social media is your ticket.

Now it's time to make money and get your automated deposits.  Or...you can use this time to create more material.

Back to the Big Guys
Yes, we provide you with the next generation of DVDs for your customers.  A completely digital product.  But why shouldn’t you put your product into the marketplaces that companies like Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vimeo and others have so graciously provided?

They have customers and they have traffic, right?

Why yes, THEY do!  Key word, THEY.  Not you, THEY.  I’m not saying you should NEVER put your product into their marketplace, but you should know what you’re getting into before you do so.  They absolutely serve a purpose - it’s their purpose, not yours.

So what is it that you give up by putting your content into their marketplace?

1. You give up Brand loyalty - you don’t have a brand in their market, it’s their brand.
2. You give up the Customer - it’s their customer, not yours.
3. You give up the Upsell - they say “customers who purchase this also purchase that...”
4. You might give up the sale - in fact, they might recommend someone else over you.
5. You give up your profits - they take 30%

So...for now at least, just say NO to iTunes, Amazon, Google, Hulu, Netflix...

Let’s talk more about this.  What are the problems with them?

#1 - Not your customers

First off, you have to remember, it’s not YOUR customer who’s buying your product in a marketplace.  You can make more money if they are your customers.  You can upsell your customers.  You won’t know who bought your product through them.  As a matter of fact, when they are marketing your product, they will market other products.  They might just convince your potential customer to buy your competitors product.  Your competitors might put comments out there trashing our product.  Amazon wants to sell people everything from computing power on EC2 to lightbulbs to books.

You’ll have a video product with sales but no customers.  That doesn’t work well for your roadmap of all of your complementary products.

#2 - Not your profits

Not only will they take a large chunk of your money right out of the gates, but the real cost is the future value of not having the relationship with the customer.  They take away all future sales too and the REAL money is on the subsequent sales.

#3 - Not your Product

So let’s say that the product that you want to provide to the market includes a PDF (printable document) or an eBook or even a physical product like a book or a trampoline or chin up bar.  Most of these platforms will allow you to sell your digital good (i.e. your movie), but it’s really not your product or your rules.  You must live within their rules for what defines a product.

#4 - Not your Price

Many marketplaces are in what’s known as the race to the bottom.  In other words, commodity pricing.  The lower the price the better.  Walmart sells as many videos as they can for $.99.

We have customers who offer their products from about $3 up to $15,000.  Many of our customers charge $200 for their educational information.  You cannot set your price in their marketplace.  Sometimes the higher price implies higher value.

#5 - No Collaboration

Amazon and most distributors do allow affiliates to sell your products.  They typically pay affiliates about 8%.  That’s because they operate on low prices and hence low margins.  But in the digital world, every incremental sale is income right to your bottom line.  Some people pay their affiliates as much as 75% of whatever price they sell a produce for.  Do you really care what they charge?  What if they can get $500 for something you charge $5 for?

#6 - Not Your Sales Engine

You are at their mercy.  It’s not your sales engine that will sell product for them...it’s theirs.  Hope and pray that sales will come in.  Tell people to buy it on Amazon and you’ll get pennies.

With your own sales channel, you’re in control!


You can do better than them...create your own channel, with your own customers!  You will have increased profits, better affiliates and best of all, you can sell your customers over and over.

Jump on This Trend Today!
InteliVideo provides you with:
  • Simple and intuitive
  • Quick and easy to get going
  • Pre-defined look, feel, flow
  • Advanced Analytics
  • Scalable hosting and delivery
  • Custom video players (all platforms)
  • Content Protection
  • APIs and Development Tools
  • Customer Service
Check us out at www.intelivideo.com

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Update on InteliVideo

Pivot Update

It's been a while since I wrote a blog entry.  I guess we've been heads down working for a while now.  I'm finally coming up for some air!  When we started InteliVideo, the focus was on providing a marketplace for people who wanted to sell their video content.  After talking to 100s of people with video content, many of which sell millions of units a year, it became clear that we needed to create a number of pricing (and service) options for our customers.  The marketplace is "high end" from a cost (to our customers) perspective.  We used to get a lot of questions about how we are different or better than iTunes.  We'll be able to answer that some day since we'll do a better job of promoting our customer's content than iTunes, but for now we're going to pivot a bit.  Since we don't really have a marketplace in place yet, we decided to focus on providing authenticated access to video content.  This could include putting a paywall in front of videos, but could also mean that our customers can simply tell us who can access a video, how long they can access it for, etc.  This could be done through our API or via an email to us (that will be read and processed automatically).  So the "slight pivot" is moving from the marketplace mentality to paywall / authenticated video viewing.  There are plenty of places that can host your videos, but providing a paywall (or authentication) in front of your video - not so much!

We developed a short video explaining what we do for our customers.

I would love to hear your feedback on this video.


When I started my consulting business, TUSC, in 1988, I wondered about how to price our consulting services.  A good friend of mine, Steve Silver recommended we ask our customers what we should charge.  This seemed counter-intuitive to me.  Would customers be honest with pricing our value?  The answer was yes - they were VERY honest about what they could pay for our world class Oracle consultants.

At InteliVideo we did a lot of research on the market and have now arrived at a pricing model.  We'll disclose this soon - when we release our new website.  It was exciting to work through this, to run it by potential customers for feedback and now to close on this chapter.

As you can see, we'll have features that are available by classes of customers.  Our monthly bundles provide HUGE value to our customers.

New sales site

In the process of revising our message, we revised our website accordingly.  Less focus on the marketplace and more focus on the value we provide to our clients.  The feedback on the site has been good!  Our primary customers are currently those companies who have historically been in the DVD replication business.  These folks have witnessed a change in their business over the last 5 years.  Many people have been quick to point out that if they receive a DVD they don't even have a DVD player anymore.  We're providing the video on demand platform for these companies.  You would never know that InteliVideo is the platform behind their offerings!  We're a complete white label solution for them!

New "Player"

We reworked our "player" in the browser to simply that for our customer's customers:

We list all of a customers videos (that they have purchased) on the right.  The top left of the page provides branding for our customers.  Below the list of videos we created an "upsell" section for our customers to advertise other things that might be of interest to their customers.  At the bottom of the page, we list all of our players (beyond the browser).

Clean, simple, easy to use!


We've also added a couple of world class partners/founders to the business.  I'm going to assume the CEO role.  Monty Sooter, former CIO at Corporate Express (a huge customer for TUSC) and former COO for ClickBank is our President/COO.  John Hayward has joined us as our CTO.  I'm very excited to have these guys on my executive team!

Whole new design in action

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I was big on Crowdsourcing logos, website development, etc.  The last round of UI work was done through CrowdSpring (and others through 99Designs).  I really enjoy that process and the end result.  This provided us with an excellent revision in our site's look and feel.  We're in the process of using Mike Stemple to design a whole new look and feel throughout the site.  Mike's an amazing guy and so much fun to work with!  We're also working on our site flow.  It's time!

We have clients, who will upload their videos, categorize them, monitor sales and how often they are watched, and the like.  This is our "white" site.

We also have customers, who will actually be our customer's customer - i.e. they will buy a video.  This is our "dark" site, which is supposed to look and feel more like a TV.  This site will have its own set of features and benefits such as being able to watch your video on any platform.

We are working heavily on our admin side of our "white" site too.  This will provide our clients with the analytics they need, but just as important is the uploading, categorizing, etc. that I mentioned above.


A big part of our focus has been that we protect our client's content or intellectual property.  In other words, we don't simply email a customer an mp4 file and let them figure out how to play it.  We also don't email the mp4 to protect the content creator's content / IP.  In other words, that would make it very easy for them to upload it to YouTube and make it public content.

One player that we were missing was a player for the laptop or desktop computer.  Sure, you could stream the content and watch it on your browser, but you couldn't download it and watch it on an airplane (i.e. disconnected from the internet)...and you had all of the baggage of streaming too.

Laptop/desktop client

Our first attempt at a laptop/desktop player was with HTML5.  We spent December realizing this was a futile effort.  HTML5 has a lot of "disconnected" or "offline" functionality built into it.  However, HTML5 is SUPER buggy and you can't download large files (which video files are large), so we spent January creating our laptop/desktop client in Java.  With Oracle's Java FX we were able to create a client that runs on Windows, Mac, Linux AND we were able to create installers for all 3 environments / operating systems.  Our laptop/desktop player looks a LOT like the browser-based functionality...but allows you to download any of your videos.  It also manages subscriptions (i.e. you can't play a video when your subscription ends).

Android, iOS and Roku

We've had players for Android, iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Roku for a while now.  However, our iOS player didn't allow you to download your content to the device.  We reworked that application, so it now provides that functionality.  At some point we'll develop players for all of the smart TVs that are out there.  Our Android app works on the Google TV, but there are Yahoo, Samsung, etc. smart TVs out there.


One feature that I love that we added is the "subdomain" functionality.  This allows our customers to establish their own subdomain within InteliVideo.  We can create an ENTIRE video site for them here or we can automatically display all of the videos in their sales library.  For example:


This allows our customers to create their own branded marketplace in seconds!


I'm always interested in your feedback, ideas, comments, suggestions!  Every day is a learning opportunity.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

eDVD - From Concept to Implementation

I love the process of starting a new venture.  It's an iterative process where you come up with a concept, take it to the market for feedback, develop a minimally viable product, take that to the market for feedback and the loop continues until you have customers - or you're dead (i.e. out of time, out of money, etc.).  We're very focused on the former - lots and lots of customers!

InteliVideo start around the concept of delivering educational courses online...and allowing people to charge whatever they want to charge for a course and getting to keep 70% of it for themselves (i.e. an education and training monetization marketplace).  After talking to the market (i.e. training people like myself), I learned that many trainers enjoy traveling the world doing their training.  Unlike me, they aren't so interested in making money while they sleep.  My class is available on the InteliVideo site and if you know any trainers who want to make money while they sleep, direct them my way!  Everything is self service!

We then changed our focus to those who had existing video content they were selling (or not selling) - i.e. those people/companies selling DVDs.  After a number of discussions, we then learned that people who produce videos and then want to sell them typically go to a distributor to fulfill their sale needs.  These distributors make their customers (i.e. the producers) pre-pay for about 1000 DVDs to be distributed on average.  If they produce 30 DVDs, at any one time, they will have at least 30,000 DVDs in stock.  Those up-front costs are considerable.  These distributors also require that the producer signs a contract that says they (the distributors) have exclusivity for distribution.  That makes sense, but there is a small catch in that exclusivity.  It typically states that they can't sell their video content in ANY media - i.e. even media that hasn't been invented yet.  Specifically, if they are selling DVDs for them when they signed the contracts in 2008 and then the iPad was invented, changed the world and everyone starts moving to the digital world, these video producers are stuck!  They can't move to the digital world because of their contracts.  In other words, they no longer really own their content.  So we quickly learned that this "long tail" market wasn't a good market to focus on.  All of the "self-service" functionality (to upload, categorize, index, search engine optimize, etc.100s of videos) we built for this market works great however!

Now...this isn't true for everyone who produced video content, but it's true for a large majority of them (i.e. we'll call them the "long tailers."  It was certainly the industry norm of 2008.  Those who had a bit more leverage, actually read the contract and likely disputed that clause.  Or...they simply went to a DVD duplicator (with no handcuffs) and used or built their own sales engine.

As I've said before, good start-ups pivot (and twist and turn) to find their market.  DVD duplicators have a number of customers.  Finding customers who bring you customers is a great thing!  At the same time, most DVD duplicators have not moved into the digital world just yet.  Many that we've met with have seen their sales drop to as little as 10% of what they once were!

Here enters InteliVideo pivot #2.  Sure, we still have a platform that will work for educational training purposes AND we still have a platform that works for those video producers who actually own their content.  We also have built an excellent CRM (customer relationship management) email campaign management system into InteliVideo.  This allows those with video content to email (after all, email still rules the world) a video sampler (or trial subscription) to a prospective customer, to know how much video every prospect watched and take actions based on this information.

DVD duplicators needed an additional piece of functionality, which we've now added to InteliVideo.  This is what we call the eDVD functionality.  DVD duplicators are used to authoring DVDs for their customers.  They want to make the DVD look exactly the way they want it to look.  We quickly learned that many of them saw this as clear differentiation for them.  They not only duplicate the DVD, but they create the look and feel for their customers before doing the duplication.  The (physical) DVD review process alone requires shipping or delivering a physical product today.  Not with an eDVD!  They can of course continue to deliver a physical DVD for any or all of their customers.  But with a simple email, their customers can review an eDVD AND they can now offer an eDVD solution to their customers - transparently through InteliVideo.

For a company like Schooled Film.com that has a physical DVD for their customers, the standard InteliVideo look and feel is something like this:

You can see that the video is at the top, chapters to the right, pricing below, social media below, etc.  However, as we learned from the DVD duplicators, each producer may have their own way that they wish to display the look and feel for their eDVD.  So we created an eDVD authoring tool (through the browser).  This allows schooled to have a page that looks exactly as they want it to look.  For example:

This is powerful functionality for our customers!  Try it out here!

We're seeing some real traction with the DVD duplicators.  If you know someone in that business, point them our way!  We would love to help them move into 2013 with many differentiators over iTunes, Amazon, etc. marketplaces - here's a shortened list of functionality over the iTunes market:

  1. Cross platform - iTunes is for iPhone/iPad only.  Versus InteliVideo, which is available on iPhone, iPad, Android phones, Android Tablets, Google TVs, Yahoo TVs, Roku, your browser, etc.  In other words, it’s truly cross platform.  We also offer “in app purchases” on Android, Roku, iPhones and iPads, but there’s a cost of doing that.
  2. Pricing - We have a LOT of flexibility on pricing.  We can gladly charge the same fee that iTunes (and Android and Amazon) market does – which is 30% of the gross fees.  But we can offer a variety of pricing offerings.  We tell our customers that “if you can dream up a way to charge people, we can implement it.”  In other words, a company like Subway could use our platform for training…and we could charge per employee rather than per “customer.”
  3. White labeled offering - InteliVideo is a white labeled offering – in other words, you can put some HTML code on your website and sell your videos through your site.  It looks like your site, but everything goes through InteliVideo - payment to delivery.  Think of the InteliVideo platform just like you think of  Google Analytics - plug and play.
  4. eDVDs – as mentioned above, we allow you to design your own “skin” for your videos – just like you can author a physical DVD, we allow you to do the same for an eDVD.
  5. Social marketing – we offer a social component to videos – you can post a comment and people can then view a sample of the video before they buy.
  6. Bookmarks and Chapters – we allow you to have any number of videos that you group into an eDVD and you can break up a video into any number of chapters.  Customers can bookmark their own sections in the videos too.
  7. Referral / Affiliate network – we allow you to allow your customers to put some HTML code on their website and they get a referral fee – you set the fee they get (i.e. could be 5% or could be 95%).
  8. Email campaigns / CRM – we have a built-in CRM system that allows you to send out any number of emails to people.  When they click on the unique link in the email, we create an InteliVideo account, send them the details for that account and track everything about that person.  We know what they watched, how long, etc.
  9. Virtual classrooms – you can set up a course through InteliVideo and you can monitor any number of students.  You can watch their progress.
  10. SEO – We integrated with Google Analytics, so you can track your clicks, etc. through them, but we also log every click, etc.

We'll certainly keep you posted on our progress as we continue to pivot, twist and turn and we would love to hear your feedback, comments, questions, and thoughts.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

#Oracle #Cloud is Here!

Well, the long awaited for #cloud offering is finally here from Oracle.  This post will walk you through the registration process.  My next blog entry will walk you through the setup, configuration, installation, etc.

First, just go to https://cloud.oracle.com/ and click on the "Register for Access" button:

Then Oracle asks if you need to create a new Oracle account or if you already have one.  Answer accordingly.

If you need to create a new account, answer the questions...

If you already have an Oracle account like I do, just sign in:

Tell Oracle which of their many cloud offerings you want to try out:

Now just sit back and wait for your account to be created.  I was in the Early Adaptor (EA) program, so I had everything in the EA version.  I just signed up for my new "production" version of the offering.  In my next blog I'll let you know how long it took to get my account set up and I'll show you what I had to do from there.  The above process took me all of 1 minute...

Sign up - good luck!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

InteliVideo is Ramping Up!

The rubber is starting to meet the road now!  We're getting some serious traction in the market wiith InteliVideo.  J.P. O'Brien, a long time friend has joined me as a co-founder and CEO.  We're signing up customers each week.  We have customers in 3 different categories: 1) Long tail videos - just like Amazon was originally focused on the long tail books, we're focused on the long tail video market.  2) Mid tail videos - these are our ideal customer who have videos.  These companies have the best potential for knocking it out of the park with a viral video.  3) Business who want to partner with other companies in the video and entertainment space.  More about this another time.

We now have APIs for anything you can imagine.  We have players for most every device.  We have a full digital rights management platform (we protect our customer's IP).  We keep track of detailed video viewing, previewing, and every click on our site.  In other words, we have extensive analytics about our customers and our prospects.  We have full support and feedback platforms built into our platform.  We allow people to watch videos pretty much anywhere they want - from their big screen TV (i.e. on Roku) to their iPhone, iPad, Android devices and more.

Last week I offered my Oracle Application Express class to the first 10 people that signed up for free.  That provided me with considerable valuable feedback.  Thank you beta users!  10 new people have some great ApEx skills now!  I started by offering my class at $300.  My thinking was that if you attended this class (which I planned to add to over time for added value), it would cost you about $300 per day for an in person class.  This class is at your own pace and you can refer back to the materials at any time.  If it's a 5 day class (I personally think I'll end up with at least 10 days of material)...that's a $1500 value for only $300!

What we need right now is to prove out our model.  In other words, we need to prove we can sell classes online.  I'm headed to Branson, MO for my yearly family reunion/vacation for the next couple of weeks.  So I'm going to put my class out there for just $49.99.  You can buy an unlimited number of seats (one seat is for one employee) and it's not a timed copy of the class - in other words, you'll be able to watch it as long as we're around...and you'll get all of the updates that I do to the class.  All of this just for being one of my first customers!  Hopefully you'll want to train a few hundred of your employees in ApEx...or maybe it's just you. But...please sign up, pay for the class and help make a difference with the future of InteliVideo!  Think of it as a "Kickstart-like" investment!  I can assure you that you won't regret it.  If you don't like the classes, you don't see the value or whatever your reason, I'll gladly refund your money.

This is a cool look at our videos.  Please buy other videos too!  But...PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE buy my ApEx class.  And...if there are other classes you would like to see offered out here...let me know!  If you want to deliver your own content and offer it up to the world just as I'm doing (at whatever price you want to offer it for -within reason), that's exactly what I built InteliVideo for...sign up as a content owner and we'll be happy to help you publish and sell your content.

Again, please...and thank you!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Oracle ApEx Class Online

I've been building out an Oracle Application Express class on InteliVideo.  Check out the class...I'd love to get your feedback, ideas, etc.  I'll give the first 10 people to send me an email (brad@intelivideo.com) a free class registration.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Roku SDK

It's amazing (and pretty cool) that when you start looking around, most everyone has an SDK that allows you to integrate whatever apps you want to develop into their solution.  Sure, you can develop apps for phones - Android, Apple (iOS), and even BlackBerry phones.  Everyone's effectively  carrying pocket PCs around with them these days.

Let's say you want to develop an app to run on a connected TV.  Well, you can do that!  Yahoo (and Google) basically own that market.  Google running on LG, Sony, etc. and Yahoo on many devices too, such as Vizio and Samsung.  Google's pretty easy to develop an app for since it's powered by Android.  I already had my Android app developed, so all I had to do was add some information to my config file, choose a specific API version and I was done.  That was easy!  So now I have an app that runs on Android devices such as the MANY phones and tablets that it runs on.  Yahoo is a bit more more complicated.  You have to down a virtual machine (and a virtual machine "runner" such as Virtual Box from Oracle) and some other code.  It's not well documented either.  I have a Yahoo TV, so that's my next project.

I also have a Roku box.  Roku provides an SDK (Software Development Kit) AND they provide amazing documentation to help you write your first Roku application.  The first language that I programmed in was BASIC - it just so happens to be VERY similar to Visual BASIC, so for me, the learning curve was pretty easy.

Here's a look at the functionality I created using the Roku SDK.  First off, I published my application into the Roku private channels (public channels are apps reviewed by Roku - private are not).  If you go to https://owner.roku.com/Add/InteliVideo you'll be able to see how you can add my new channel to your Roku box.  There are 3 images below.  The image on the left, shows the link on my website to the above Roku link.  In my website, I determine what device your viewing the site from and displays the player for your device (as discussed below).  The image in the middle shows the results of the above link to Roku and the image to the right is what you'll see if you add my Roku app to your Roku device.

Here's a look at that iFrame - if you're looking at this blog from your iPad or iPhone, you'll see the iOS link (which isn't available in the marketplace yet, but will be soon).  If you're looking at it from an Android device, you'll see the link for the Android app.  If you're looking at it from a PC or desktop, you'll see the Roku link.

Once you install the Roku app, it will show up in your list of Roku apps!  This occurs very similar to how auto updates occur on iOS and Android.  You can arrow to the app and click OK / Select and it will run the InteliVideo app.  Now that you can control everything about the app - from the description showing below the icon to the icon used.

Roku has the ability to generate a unique ID.  So I display this unique ID to the user and tell them to go to the InteliVideo website to link their authentication to the Roku device.  This way I didn't have to build an authentication page for the Roku, which is frankly painful to "type" using your arrow keys.

Once you've linked your Roku device to your InteliVideo account, my application looks up all of the categories that you've purchased or can view and it displays each of these videos in a grid.  You can move around the page to view information about each video.  When you want to select a video, you click OK and you'll see the next page.  In the application, I thought it was pretty cool that I can dynamically look up these videos (via XML), get their images (via HTTP) and display them along with descriptions, ratings, etc.

Once you select a video, I used a custom viewer to start the video.  I display the name of the video on the left side of the page and the instructions are on the right.  This is on top of the InteliVideo logo.  If you press the down button, I display the video in full screen.  These videos are streamed.  All of the buffering is done for the user automatically.  The quality even on my big screen TV is BlueRay level.

As you can see, Roku has a full SDK that allows me to authenticate users, provide only videos they have paid for, allow them to watch them, rewind, pause, etc.  It's amazing how powerful these SDKs are.  I'll talk about the Yahoo TV SDK once I've written my application for my Vizio TV with Yahoo TV in it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cloud-Based Marketplaces and Services

The cloud is clearly where the world is moving!  Amazon has done an amazing job of offering up cloud-based infrastructure services (i.e. servers by the hour).

There are thousands of DVDs on the market today.  We all know that DVDs are going away.  Everyone is watching movies on their iPads and iPhones now.  You see kids watching movies at restaurants on iPhones.  Roku is your future cable killer.  It allows you to watch online content on your TV.  It's similar to Apple TV in many regards.

My new company, InteliVideo has built a cloud-based platform that helps those companies with libraries of DVDs move into the world of streaming and downloadable videos for any device.  It's a marketplace.  DVD content owners can do everything themselves - my site is entirely self-service.  We collect the money, keep track of who bought what and how long they can watch it, and ultimately deliver the content using our cloud-based platform.

My goal is to make these videos available on every possible platform that my customers' customers might want to watch these videos (formerly DVDs) on - digitally.

This was easy enough to accomplish with iOS, Android, and the Amazon markets.  You can give an application away in any of these markets.  So we developed apps and put them into the markets for free.  iOS is still receiving the finishing touches, but will be available soon.

The Roku marketplace allows you to develop an app and create a private channel too.  Roku's development kit uses a language that's pretty similar to Visual Basic from what I can tell.  You can develop an app and put it into their market for free too.  In the InteliVideo case, the authentication will allow us to restrict which videos you have access to through Roku (and iOS, Android, etc).  JSON and XML services are available to these applications.

Another cloud-based service that we're using is Paypal.  It's great to be able charge what you want and integrate Paypal into your solution.  This is exactly what we did.

Combining cloud solutions and integrating them together allows for the creation of a new cloud-based service in no time!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Update on InteliVideo

I'm making it easy for people to upload their content, create classes, and ultimately monetize their knowledge.

We all know that DVDs are going away. Everyone is watching movies on their iPads and iPhones now. You see kids watching movies at restaurants on iPhones. My company, InteliVideo has built a platform that helps those companies with libraries of DVDs move into the world of streaming and downloadable videos for any device. It's a marketplace and companies can do everything themselves - it's entirely self service. We collect the money, keep track of who bought what and how long they can watch it, and ultimately deliver the content using our cloud-based platform.

This is an example of an IFRAME that an owner can pull off my site.

Here are the main categories:

Here is a specific category:

And another - try rolling your mouse over these...:

And the final category:

Monday, April 16, 2012


Over the last few weeks, as I was working on my "next big thing," I started reflecting on the good, bad and ugly of prior start-ups and companies I've been involved with.  I started writing about building a start-up from the ground up - topics from raising money, pivoting, turds on the table, giving up control, keeping the day job and several more posts.

After being in the services business for over 20 years, I've thought for years about making money while I'm sleeping.  When I created my first Android app, I was so excited when I went from making $1 a day to $5 to $10 to $100 and beyond.  I loved how Google (and Apple) had created a marketplace that allowed you to write an application, put it into a market, decide on your pricing, and collect 70% of whatever price you set.  I had fun experimenting with pricing, features, etc.  I loved hearing the feedback and ideas from my customers.  I was making money while I slept!

At TUSC we provided Oracle consulting services, but we also provided training and education.  Early on I did a lot of training for our customers.  In the mid 90s I did intro (2 days) and advanced training (3 days) on SQR (a report writer for Oracle) nearly 2 months in a row.  I've done 100s of presentations at Oracle (and other) users groups.  I've written 100s of articles for user group newsletters to Oracle magazine.  I consulted for 100s of companies over the years.  But...none of these helped me make money while I slept...I had to be there, usually in person.  Then came the web and I started doing webinars.  I recorded many of those webinars over the years and we published them on our website.  But, I didn't monetize these webinars.

After many many hours of dreaming, working on the concepts, etc. I figured out my next big thing.  I decided to combine the concepts of the Android marketplace and webinars.  I decided to help people monetize their training and how to videos online.  In other words, if you create a webinar and you want to sell it, you can put it on the InteliVideo site, indicate how much you want to charge and we do the rest.  We sell the video, manage distribution to any device (mobile or browser), collect the money, deliver the content and you get 70% of the income.  It's a utility model.  No up front costs to you.  No storage costs.  No costs per byte.  No credit fees.  Simply upload a series of videos (i.e. a grouping you want to sell), tell us how much to charge (i.e. for a 1 day rental it's $20, for 3 days it's $50, etc) and sit back and wait for your monthly check to arrive.

When I first came up with the concept, I thought maybe I'd go out and develop a bunch of video content.  So I brainstormed about what I would develop first.  Oracle content?  I know people who know a lot about fishing, duck hunting, snowmobiling, wake surfing, home building, home fix up, and so many more topics...so I thought maybe I'd start there.  Then I realized that we didn't need more content, the world simply needs a video marketplace!

I'm also combining in something that was my first (paid) Internet project ever...developing a testing engine.  When I first learned Oracle Application Express (which I later co-authored a book on), I asked Larry (my co-author) to develop the testing application in ApEx.  Which he did.  I'm going to combine this functionality into the video side of the business as well.  There will be full event driven actions that you'll be able to take based on the answers.  For example, you can pause the video 3 minutes and 12 seconds in and ask a question.  If the viewer answers right, you can continue.  If they answer wrong, you can take the action you want to take - i.e. you might force them to start over or you might show them the answer in a small video.  Then at the end of the course, you can decide what you want to do based on their answers.  For example, as a part of continuing education, you might give them a certificate.  If it was a Meyers Briggs test that you were guiding them through, you might score them as an ESTJ and then up-sell them on videos about relationships for ESTJs.

What do I need from you?  Well, before long everything will be self service and I'll need your content.  So if you don't have content, please start working on it now.  If you already have content, I'd like you to be a beta customer!  I'll upload your videos, configure the site, develop the questions with you, etc.  You can either be part of the InteliVideo generic videos or you can have a white labeled site with your videos.  If you have a white labeled site, you can choose to include links for other partners (which you'll eventually get a sales commission if your site sells them) or if you want to exclude certain companies (i.e. your competitors).

So tell me...what would you like to see on the site?  There is a B to B side of this - i.e. my customers and the B to C side (i.e. selling videos to consumers).  What do you think I should tell each side?

You can view my SUPER alpha version of my "marketing" site, which I need to get all of the links working on...and you can view my generic and white labelled version of the site.

InteliVideo Marketing Site                                     InteliVideo Videos

By the way, please try out the social side of the site - i.e. enter a Facebook comment!  And, you can VOTE on the logo selection if you click on the link soon.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

How Many Times Will you Pivot?

When you start a business, you better have a clear vision in mind.  It's critical to get your elevator pitch down.  You need to be able to explain to others, exactly what you're business is all about in 30 seconds.

When we started TUSC, I would to people that we were in the business of building custom software for organizations...and the pitch went on for 2-5 minutes.  One day I was sitting in a board meeting with a group of CEOs.  One of my competitors was in the meeting that day.  One of my CEO friends, who was a banker, said to my competitor - "so what do you guys do?"  It was time for his elevator pitch.  He said "the same thing as Brad, but for Microsoft."  The banker looked my competitor very confused and said, "if you can explain to me what Brad's business does, that would be great, I've been trying to figure that out for 2 years now."  That's not a good sign!  In fact, that was a HUGE wake-up call for me.  Clearly we did OK at explaining what we did to our customers, who were technical people, but CEOs couldn't figure out what we did.  So your elevator pitch has to be relevant to those you give it to.  My CEO elevator pitch then was refined to "we do Oracle, anything with regards to Oracle software, so if you know anyone who has Oracle - please have them contact me."

Our original vision was to be the best consultants in the world around the Oracle software.  To us that meant we were going to build software from the ground up.  We wanted large projects that would allow us to do things right.  However, the market was in need of consultants would could tune their Oracle applications and make them run faster.  That's not what we had in mind.  We didn't want to be firefighters.  But we listened to the market.  We didn't get stuck on "no, our vision was to do big projects, now give us a big project or we're walking..."  Those little projects became our foot in the door...that later (about 5 years later) resulted in us landing large, from the ground up projects.  Which was about the same time that developing custom software was no longer in vogue.  So again, we had to pivot and listen to our customers.  We build an Oracle Apps (ERP) business.

It's not just about listening to customers, but listening to those who can help you.  There was a recent Shark Tank where the guy had wine and a great glass (individual serving of wine for sporting events, weddings, etc) to store wine in.  The sharks were only interested in the glass.  They didn't seem to like his wine.  They tried to explain that the market is WAY bigger than his wine.  But...he didn't want to sell that off because he wanted to sell more of his wine with the glass.  I get it - he came up with the concept so he could sell more wine...but...what does it matter who's wine it is?

As I always say, you can stick to your vision and end up with 100% of nothing or you partner and listen to people and end up with a whole lot more!  At the same time, you don't want to change your direction every week or for that matter very often.  You can't turn a large ship very quickly...you need to make minor adjustments.  Businesses that pivot are generally the most successful business, but the optimal pivots is about 2.  So come up with a vision, run it by others, listen, refine your vision and then go try to sell your visions to customers...and LISTEN!  What is it they are asking for?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

SaaS Here, SaaS There, SaaS Everywhere

Starting in 2005, my partner Ric and I created a SaaS business (IntelliReal) from the ground up.  We sold the business to Equifax in August of 2011.  

It seems like everywhere I turn, I'm hearing companies say they plan to use SaaS software over enterprise software.  When do you think SaaS is good for business and when is it not good?  When it comes to firing up servers, people might recommend you run on Amazon's Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2).  There are a ton of infrastructure companies out there now.  You can rent a MySQL instance for about $10 a month.  When it comes to implementing an ERP you can choose from SaaS solutions from Oracle, SAP, NetSuite, and more.  If you're building a product, I hope you're creating a SaaS offering.  If you're building a company, I hope you're considering SaaS solutions.  After all - services companies tend to get about 1 times revenue when they sell and SaaS companies getting 10x revenue!

When will there be more Mobile SaaS offerings?  What different SaaS offerings do you find helpful for your business?  Which ones do you pay for and which do you stay within the freemium model?  Do you think freemium works or are companies just giving away their services for free forever?  Personally although I built and sold (a lot of) mobile apps, I like the free apps the best.  I enjoy Facebook, but would I pay for it?  Not likely.  I used Bill4Time to track my hours and create customer invoices.  I like Trello for list management, but again, would I pay?  I like YouTube, but again, would I pay to watch any of those videos?  Email is important, but would I fire up an Outlook server?  No way, Google does an amazing job on the email side of the world...and I do pay for it.  Dropbox is great, but again, I stay under the freemium minimums.  I like Skype and I do pay for minutes when I call internationally and I do pay a monthly fee for unlimited calls in the US.  I really like Evernote, but I don't pay - again freemium.

Tell me about your SaaS experiences, favorites, etc.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mobile is King

I talked about the wild west of the mobile space a while back.  How awesome was it that Apple and Google created a marketplace that allows you to write an app and put in the market!  They do a lot of the hard work for you - find you customers, collect the money, etc.  It's pretty cool that you can develop and app, put it into the market and you get 70 cents of every dollar they collect.  That's amazing to me!

Then there's the mobile side of existing businesses.  Is there a way you can mobilize a component of your business?  How long will it be before there are as many mobile SaaS offerings as their are Internet SaaS offerings?  Many companies are focused on making sure every other company is represented in the mobile space.

The mobile space is still a huge frontier of opportunity.  What are you waiting for?  Do you have a mobile solution in mind?  How long will it be before someone else takes your idea to market?  What do you think the next frontier will be?

Monday, April 2, 2012

We Would Rather give you a Loan

I talked about this briefly in another post, but what does it mean when someone says they would rather give you a loan than take any more of your equity?  Why would they do this?  Just to be nice guys?  Not exactly!  

A loan is basically a guaranteed return.  Of course, there is some risk, but less than the risk of equity.  Why?  Because if you go out of business, equity is worth $0 and a loan (i.e. debts) gets the first money out...  So if you fire sale the business, debt is paid (in full, plus interest and other provisions) first...then equity is paid with the remaining proceeds.  Another provision that is common is that if you sell the company (even in a fire sale) that interest is paid in full - i.e. to the term of the loan.  So if you have a 3 year loan at 10% for $1M and you sign that today and you happened to sell tomorrow, you might owe the $300k.

Moral of the story...know what you're getting into before you sign up.  As I always say, if it sounds too good to be true...it is.  So don't assume anything - ask!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Business Model Generation

I've talked about several of these topics in the past, but if you're trying to figure out your business model (i.e. how to montetize your business, I'd highly recommend you get the book "Business Model Generation."  

It talks about my favorite monetization model - the multi-sided platform.  This is effectively what Google has.  One person pays for your services (i.e. in the case of the search engine, it's the advertisers) and another person gets the benefits for free (i.e. the people doing the searches).  

The book breaks up your business into 9 sections:

1. Customer Segments
2. Value Propositions
3. Channels
4. Customer Relationships
5. Revenue Streams
6. Key Resources
7. Key Activities
8. Key Partnerships
9. Cost Structure

The book provides a number of example businesses around different business model types.  This structure is quite helpful when it comes to pulling your business model together.

Here's an example for a business that I was thinking about building.  I know a lot about tons of geospatial data that is available...much of it being free (from the government).  So I laid this business out into the Business Model Generation format:

This process is a key step for me when I'm evaluating a business opportunity.

It's important to think about things like: How are you different than the competition?  Is your offering disruptive to the industry?  What is your monetization plan?  Do you have a multi-sided platform business?  What customer segments are you going to service?  In what order?  What is your value proposition?  Is it different than others?  What channels can you take your product/service to the market?  In what order?  What customer relationships do you need to develop?  How will you develop them?  What are your revenue streams?  Do you have many small revenue streams?  What key resources do you need for your business?  What are the key activities required and by who?  What partnerships should you establish and how?  What's your cost structure - i.e. can you make money?