Thursday, September 17, 2015

Selling Books on Amazon vs. Intelivideo

For the last couple of years I've heard that publishers don't like selling their books through Amazon.  The way I heard it described sounded like Amazon was forcing (or pushing) you to sell books for under $10.  It's actually pretty complicated as to how their pricing works, so I've attempted to simplify for you here.  If you want the details, you can read more here:

Basically you have to pick which plan you’re on.  The 35% or 70% royalty plan.  At first glance, you would ask - why would anyone pick the 35% royalty plan?  Let's see, you do all of the research, write the book, take a book through 5 edits and get it to the point of publishing and Amazon is going to keep 35 "or" 70% of the revenue generated?  Logically who would say they only want to keep 35%?  It's more complicated - i.e. strings are attached to each choice.

If you pick the 70% royalty plan, you keep as much as 70% (minus delivery costs and with about 100 other rules) of whatever they sell it for.  But according to the small print, on a number of your sales, you’ll actually keep 35% of whatever they sell it for.  Here's the real kicker - if you want to keep 70% (minus delivery costs, VAT, etc), they force you to set the list price to $2.99 to $9.99 AND by the way they will keep 65% if they sell it in other countries, etc.  If you choose the 35% royalty plan (keep in mind, they are are keeping 65%), you can set the price between $2.99 and $200.  You can sell it for less than $2.99 (i.e. down to $.99) if you have a small book (i.e. less than 10Mb footprint).  They also say that the list price must be at least 20% below the lowest physical list price for the physical book.  Wow - SO many rules!

So Amazon charges (keeps) 30% (minus delivery costs) to 65% (and it’s usually this amount) and has minimum and maximum prices you can charge and a lot of rules AND it’s Amazon’s customer (not yours).

The 2 pricing options are explained (and tough to understand) here:

And their FAQ is here:

We're soon to release (secure) eBook functionality at Intelivideo.  So how does it work?  If you pick the Pro Plan, you keep 85% of the revenue and you can set the price to whatever price you want.  We have some other fine print, but overall I can assure you that our pricing is WAY better than Amazon's offer - and it's your customer.  You can sell them more products.  You can do promotions to them.  You can upsell them.  I'm shocked by Amazon's model and now understand the frustration others have!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Loose Rules Sink Fools

You've probably heard someone talk about how awesome it is that they get to bring their dog to work.  Or how there is NO dress code.  Or they have unlimited vacation.

Many corporate cultures have what I would call loose rules.  Most people do not like confrontation - in fact, many people will do anything to avoid it.  Which means they will not tell you when you're in the gray area of the corporate culture - but believe me, they take note.

Loose rules include dress code to bringing dogs to work and many others.  Does dress code matter for the job you're doing?  What if you're in sales and NEVER leave the office?  What if you RARELY leave the office, but sometimes you do?  What if the CEO stops by and says "hey, can you run to this meeting with me (or for me) tonight.  Then they look at how you're dressed and say "maybe next time?"  Yes, you're within the "rules" but it WILL affect your career - and not usually in a positive way.

Bring your dog to work.  Where's the line?  What if someone gets a puppy, which they bring to work every day?  Yes, puppies are cute, REALLY cute. What if you're the person that brought the puppy in every day?  You spend an hour taking the puppy for a walk, taking it outside (while it has you trained rather than visa versa).  Or worse yet, every time your boss walks by, someone is distracted by petting your puppy?  They cute!  Too cute to pass!  You're negatively affecting productivity.  Again, this is not likely to work well for your career.

Many companies have gone to unlimited vacation.  What if 2 weeks after you start, you take a 2 month vacation?  According to policy that's OK, but I wouldn't expect you to have a job when you return.  Where's the line?  What's gray?   What's acceptable?

Are you within the rules in each of the above examples?  Absolutely, but loose rules have unspoken rules.  Rules nobody will actually admit to quite often.  Startups go through a number of stages in a very short period of time.  People are evaluated regularly based on the current company stage.  Some people survive from one stage to the next and others do not.  Those who are not performing or viewed as not performing (e.g. taking care of their puppy all day) do not.

Don't let the loose rules sink your career!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Startup is Like Making a Trip to Each Continent

Maybe you realize how difficult it is to go from an idea to a successful company.  Maybe you've attempted one (or more) yourself.  Is the American dream a startup?  It is for some, but not all.  If you start a company and you're the only employee and you don't get paid, is your business a startup?  Is it successful?  Beauty and success are in the eye of beholder.  You might hear people suggest you set your sites and expectations lower so you guarantee success.  In fact, you might hear a lot of different conflicting things over your life.  In Founders Institute we call this "mentor whiplash."  One mentor says yes, another so no.  One says go and another says stop.  There's no right way to do most things in the startup world.  Set your own goals - think about your definition of success and strive for it...every day.

One thing I do know is that MOST people need a partner or partners to "complete them."  In other words, we all have gaps (and strengths) in our personality.  Your partners should fill your gaps.  If they don't, your company will have a gap.  If you're a perfectionist, you're going to want to find a partner who isn't.  If you're a detailed person, you're going to find a partner who isn't.  If you don't have any gaps, congrats!  I have many!

So how is a startup similar to making a trip to every continent?  First, when I say startup, I'm referring to a funded startup.  If you're trying to build a lifestyle company (i.e. one that provides a nice lifestyle for you), don't take someone else's money to do this - they will NOT be happy.  If you can build a business on your own and without any money, that's a dream come true for many.  That's not my dream.  So like I said, the basic premise here is that you're building a business that is going to require capital (i.e. money) to get it going.

When do you raise your first dollar?  My preference is to raise money as soon as you can.  In other words, don't spend any more of your own money to start the business than you absolutely need to.  Even if you have money.  Why?  Because in my view, if you can't get someone else to believe in your idea, it probably isn't a fundable idea.

So let's say you start your trip in a rich continent such as North America.  You can get to a lot of places by driving around.  Some might be safe, some might not.  In fact, you can probably get to your second continent without hopping on a plane - i.e. South America.  We could say that's similar to your "self funding" stage of your business.  At some point you're going to have to take off on a plane to get to the next continent.  In the startup world, continents are like "fund raising series."

The first round of funding (continent 1 - North America) is your own cash.  Make this your smallest and quickest continent to get behind you.  The second round (continent 2 - South America) is your seed round.  This is sometimes called the friends and family round.  Get people believing in your idea ASAP.  Get your seed funding ASAP.  The 3rd round, your Series A round (continent 3 - Australia) is a stretch.  It's a long and big flight.  Most companies frankly never get to this phase.  Maybe you're able to go to Europe instead and the flight is shorter.  It's still a long way and you better have the fuel you need to get to that next round.

So yes, if you start in North America, using your own money, you might have a lot of money.  You might have a nice vehicle to get to your next continent.  But at some point, to get to continent 3 of 7, you're going to have to take off.  When are you going to fuel up next?  Are you going to attempt to fly around the entire world without refueling?  Of course not.  That would be similar to trying to raise $1B in your first round of funding.  It will never happen.

Seed round valuations tend to range from $1M to $3M.  If you're a proven startup person and 100s of other "ifs," you're probably not reading my blog, but yes, you're seed round valuation would be higher.  If you only have an idea, you're initial valuation may be $0 and it could be less than $1M.

If you try to fuel up in the middle of the ocean, you're going to run out of fuel and crash.  If you stop in a dangerous place (i.e. the wrong investors, investors who run out of money, investors with the wrong expectations, etc), you could also be extorted for money.  Depending on where you stop, fuel could be reasonable or it could be expensive.  The more you need the fuel, the more expensive it is.  All of this is true in the startup world too.  If you don't make it to the next continent (funding stage) with your fuel (funding), you're done.  If you stop in the wrong place (i.e. you don't have the right metrics in place by the time you get there), your next funding round might not be fatal, but it could be VERY expensive (i.e. a low valuation equal a high percentage of stock you give up for very little money).

It's important to plan your trip (i.e. startup).  It's important that you can make it to the next continent safely.  Where you start is important.  Focus is important.  If you deliver a message like "we'll do that" for everything a potential investor brings up, they will not want to give you the fuel (cash) you need.  What if you pulled into a gas station (called an FBO in the flight world) with $1000 on you.  Let's say the FBO has a casino in it.  On your walk to the casino you notice a bar, so you stop in there.  You go into the casino and bet $500 on black.  What would your crew (your employees) have to say about your behavior?  A bit confused about the goal?  A lack of focus on the goal here?  What would your investors (i.e. the FBO employees) feel about your ability to pay for the fuel?  Have a mission and live for it.  Know what you need to do and do it.

Whatever you do, bet the farm on your focus.  One thing, not 2, not 3.  Don't try to be more than one thing.  Don't fuel up or raise money in the wrong location (i.e. bad investors) or at the wrong time (i.e. middle of the ocean).  Keep in mind that you MUST get to the next continent with whatever you have from your last funding round.  In other words, DO NOT try to raise money $30k at a time.  You'll spend all of your money raising money and you'll end up in the middle of the ocean without any more fuel.  Each round needs to get you to the next round -'s going to be costly or deadly.

Prepare for your trip.  Be ready.  Your investors are your lifeline to the next continent.  Respect them and do what they expect you to do to get to the next round.  If you don't, you both lose - unless they get your company and then they do something good with it.  But that's not what they want.  That's not what you want.  Good luck and safe travels!

Thank you to Daniel Feher for the use of his amazing maps.  You can find more great maps on his website:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Worrying about the 4th Bullet?

I love analogies that are very meaningful and get the point across.  I often hear businesses talking about different subjects that concern them.  You could say this is similar to the days of the old west where people carried their weapons on their belt and used them at will.  Back then, did people worry about the 4th bullet in the gun?  Of course not.  They worried about the 1st bullet.

So why is it that in business we're often worried about the 4th bullet that's going to kill us?  For example, let's say your business needs revenue, has expenses, is not making a profit.  Should you worry about your legal contracts?  Should you worry about employee retention?  Employee onboarding?  Other topics?

Of course those things are important, but...what's most important?  How do you get to profitability?  More revenue?  Fewer expenses?  More customers?  More from your existing customers?  The 1st bullet that will kill a business is the lack of revenue.

In real estate, the 3 most important things are location, location, and location.  In business, the 3 most important things are focus, focus, and focus (on the 1st bullet).

Focus on the 1st bullet every day, not the 4th bullet!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I have an idea for an app, what's next?

This is a question that I get asked quite often.  My first thoughts are:

1. An app isn't necessarily a business.
2. Can you generate enough revenue to pay for the development?
3. There is usually more to an app than just the app.
4. Which platforms?

I thought I'd take this opportunity to address each of these points in more detail.  Before I do this, I think it's important to say that I don't consider myself to be the world's leading authority on apps, so I should explain why I get asked this question.

In 2008, when I saw my first Android phone, I was very intrigued by the ability to write an app for a phone.  I had this thought - what if I could develop an app that would I would sell and it paid for my lunch every day.  How cool would that be?  I was a Java developer (not a great one, but I could write Java code) and the Android devices used a Java development stack as their base.  So the learning curve wasn't huge for me.  More importantly, I only had to invest time, not money to write an app.

I was very much into Web Services at the time and Yahoo had (still has actually) some really cool Web Services that are available for public use.  These are based on what they call YQL (Yahoo Query Language) and since I'm a SQL (Structured Query Language) guy at heart, YQL and Web Services were right up my alley.

One of the uses of YQL included providing a location and getting all of the local events in a specified radius from that location.  So I thought I should create an app that would allow anyone to find their local events that they were interested in.  I created my first "Local Events" app and put in the market.  Not many people downloaded the app (it wasn't paying for lunch), so I started thinking about how people searched for apps.  I figured they would search for the events they were interested in - singles, beer, crafting, technical, etc.  So I created "Local Beer Events" and "Local Singles Events" and many other apps.

Another YQL search that Yahoo provides is for local businesses - again, from a specific location.  So my "second" app was centered around local businesses.  One again, I thought about how people searched for apps and I created a local Starbucks app, local Panera, local Noodles, etc.  The downside of this app was that Starbucks and many others didn't like me using their name in app name due to trademark infringements.

Back to my story of paying for lunch - I quickly paid for lunch each day and my goal became to generate $100 a day, then $1000 a day.  I did generate over $1000 in many days.  I experimented with pricing and learned a lot.

In the end, I ended up taking all of those apps off the market...or actually Google took them off the market for me.  Likely due to my app names or because I had spammed the market with over 500 apps or who knows why.

I wrote a book for Apress book on the business of writing Android apps and I spoke at numerous conferences on the topic.

It was at that point that I decided to rethink my app strategy.  What could I build that would actually be a business?  Could I charge for the app or did I need to offer an entire service?

So back to my questions above:

An app isn't necessarily a business

If you're a developer and you can develop 100% of the app with no costs, this may not apply to you.  Most people have to pay for developers and servers to deploy an app.  A business is typically defined as an entity that makes a profit.  So income minus expenses is profit.  What will your income be from your app?  Do people actually pay for apps today?  I believe they do, but not often...i.e. there must be a LOT of value to pay for an app...especially to have enough people paying for your app.  Let's say you price your app at $2.  How many copies do you have to sell just to pay for the development?  What about the ongoing support costs?  If you paid $20k to develop the app, you would have to sell 10,000 copies to "break even."'ll have to support the app, keep it running, upgrade it, etc.  Most apps (like books) never sell 10,000 copies.  So...just creating an app isn't necessarily a business.

Can you generate enough revenue to pay for the development

Like I said above, generating revenue for an app is tough.  Paying for the development of the app is tough.  Maybe you can generate revenue other ways?  Think about this a LOT before you decide to proceed with developing your app.

There is usually more to an app than just the app

Most apps aren't standalone apps.  Sure, my "Local Starbucks" app was "standalone" in some regards, but it wasn't in other regards.  It relied on the Yahoo Web Service to deliver current Starbucks locations.  I had someone approach me about a "Need a Loo" (find a local bathroom in London) app.  They had the data for all of the bathrooms...but this changed frequently.  Could I have built the app and had the data be included in the app?  Yes, but...when the Loo locations changed, I would have had to update the app, which isn't an ideal solution.  So I had to build a database and a Web application that allowed them to maintain Loo locations.  Then I had to build web services that looked up the current Loo locations from the database.  In other words, most apps involve databases, web services, and back end systems to maintain the data.  All of these imply additional costs...which imply additional revenue that must be generated to sustain your business.

I wrote 5 books for Oracle press on the topic of web applications, web services and the like.  I know how to build the backend of apps, this was the easy part for me!

Which Platforms?

When you think about an app, you might be thinking of an iPhone app if you have an iPhone or an iPad.  You might be thinking of an Android app if you have an Android phone or tablet.  There are SO many development platforms today.  iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Apple TV, Kindle Fire TV, and literally about 100 more.  There are cross platform development tools, but they tend to be what I call "least common denominator" solutions.  In other words, they will alienate someone.  If it looks like an iOS (iPhone/iPad) app, it's going to alienate the Android users...or visa-versa.  For this reason, native apps are in vogue now.

Every platform is about $30k or more in our world.  Again, all of these are expenses...that must be recouped.

Why InteliVideo?

I thought long and hard about my next generation of apps that I wanted to create.  That's when I determined that I needed to create a business...that had apps, not an app that was a business.  The video business was a natural progression for me.  I wanted to have the ability to sell my educational material (Oracle training) and deliver it in an app.  We have a LOT more than an app.  We have an entire business - that has apps.  So when you think about developing an app...think about the business, not the app.

Monday, December 22, 2014


We've struggled to figure out what to call this next generation of video delivery.  Is it "video on demand?"  The industry insiders are very specific in calling it TVOD and SVOD, which stands for transactional and subscription video on demand respectively.  Transactional video on demand means that consumers can buy or rent a video and watch it on their device.  Subscription video on demand means that consumers buy a subscription and they can watch a grouping of videos as a part of their subscription.

But what does all of this have to do with consumers and how they talk about "video on demand?"  I certainly don't hear consumers using that term.  In fact, when my son recently posted a video on Facebook, my mother-in-law (his grandma) said "that was a really cool DVD Austin."  Later she asked "that was a DVD, right?"  You could hear her questioning herself about the use of the term DVD.  Austin was a little taken back by the question, paused and said "yes grandma."  He didn't want to get into the details that a DVD is a physical implementation of storage, not a method of playing a video on Facebook.

That got me thinking about what I originally labelled this new technology as - i.e. an eDVD.  This would allow people to continue to referring to online videos as DVDs - specifically eDVDs.  So how do we change the world's view of these terms and get everyone to start calling them eDVDs?  Now that I've declare it, the world knows, right?  Well...not quite yet, but I'm sure very soon :)  Spread the word!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Digital Delivery "Badge"

At InteliVideo we have come to understand that we need to do everything we can to help our clients sell more digital content. It seems obvious that consumers want to watch videos on devices like their phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs, but it's not so obvious to the everyone. They have been using DVDs for a number of years - and likely VHS tapes before that. We believe it’s important for your customers to understand why they would want to purchase a digital product rather than a physical product (i.e. a DVD).

Better buttons drive sales.  Across all our apps and clients we know we are going to need to really nail our asset delivery process with split tests and our button and banner catalog.  We've simplified the addition of a badge on a client's page. They effectively have to add 4 lines of HTML in order to add our digital delivery badge.

Our clients can use any of the images that InteliVideo provides or we’re happy to provide an editable image file (EPS format) so they can make their own image.  Here are some of our badges that we created:

Screenshot 2014-12-16 19.39.25.png

On our client's web page, it looks something like this:

Screenshot 2014-12-17 14.01.11.png

The image above (Watch Now on Any Device) is the important component.  This is the component that our clients are placing somewhere on their web page(s).  When this is clicked, the existing page will be dimmed and the lightbox will popup and display the “Why Digital” message:

Screenshot 2014-12-17 16.31.54.png

What do your client's customers need to know about in order to help you sell more?

What does an App Cost?

People will commonly ask me this question, which has a very wide range as the answer.  You can get an app build on oDesk for nearly free - i.e. $2000 or less.  Will it provide the functionality you need?  It might!  Do you need a website that does the same thing?  Do you need a database (i.e. something beyond the app) to store your data for your customers?

Our first round of apps at InteliVideo cost us $2,000-10,000 to develop each of them.  We spent a LOT of money on the backend server code.  Our first versions were pretty fragile (i.e. broke fairly easily) and we're very sexy.  We decided that we needed to revamp our apps from stem to stern...APIs to easy branding to UI.

Here's a look at our prior version.  Our customers (people who buy videos) aren't typically buying from more than 1 of our clients - yet.  But in the prior version I saw a list of all of the products I had purchased.  It's not a very sexy UI - just a simple list of videos:

When I drilled into a specific product, again I see a list of videos within the product:

I can download or play a video in a product:

Here's what it looks like for The Dailey Method:

Here's the new version demonstrating the branding for Chris Burandt.  I've purchased a yearly subscription that currently includes 73 videos.  I scroll (right not down) through those 73 videos here:

Or if I click on the title, I get to see a list of the videos in more detail:

Notice the colors (branding) is shown everywhere here.  I scrolled up to look through those videos:

Here's a specific video that talked about a technique to set your sled unstuck:

Here's what the app looks like when I'm a The Dailey Method customer.  Again, notice the branding everywhere:

Looking at a specific video and it's details:

We built a native app for iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod), Android, Windows and Mac that has all of the same look, feel, functionality, etc.  This was a MAJOR undertaking!

The good news is that if you want to start a business and build an MVP (Minimally Viable Product) to see if there is actually a market for your product, you don't have to spend hundreds of thousands to do so...but you might have to later!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Do You Really Need a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

When I first heard about Amazon's offering called CloudFront I really didn't understand what it offered and who would want to use it.  I don't think they initially called it a content delivery network (CDN), but I could be wrong about that.  Maybe it was just something I didn't think I needed at that time.

Amazon states it well today (as you might expect).  The offering "gives developers and businesses an easy way to distribute content to end users with low latency, and high data transfer speeds."

So when you hear the word "content" what is it that you think about?  What is content?  First off, it's digital content. pages?  That's what I initially thought of.  But it's really any digital content.  Audio books, videos, PDFs - files of any time, any size.

When it comes to distributing this digital content, why would you need to do this with low latency and/or high transfer speeds?  Sure, this is important if your website traffic scales up from 1-10 concurrent viewers to millions overnight.  How realistic is that for your business?  What about the other types of content - such as videos?  Yep, now I'm referring to what we do at InteliVideo!

A CDN allows you to scale up to any number of customers viewing or downloading your content concurrently.  Latency can be translated to "slowness" when you're trying to download a video when you're in Japan because it's moving the file across the ocean.  The way that Amazon handles this is that they move the file across the ocean using their fast pipes (high speed internet) between their data centers and then the customer downloads the file effectively directly from Japan.

Imagine that you have this amazing set of videos that you want to bundle up and sell to millions of people.  You don't know when your sales will go viral, but when it happens you want to be ready!  So how do you implement a CDN for your videos, audios, and other content?  Leave that to us!

So back to the original question.  Do you really need a content delivery network?  Well...what if you could get all of the benefits of having one without having to lift a finger?  Would you do it then?  Of course you would!  That's exactly what we do for you.  We make it SUPER simple - i.e. it's done 100% automatically for our clients and their customers.  Do you really need a CDN?  It depends on how many concurrent people are viewing your content and where they are located.

For my Oracle training classes that I offer through BDB Software, I have customers from around the world, which I personally find so cool!  Does BDB Software need a CDN?  It absolutely makes for a better customer experience and I have to do NOTHING to get this benefit!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Elephants and Tigers - V8 of the Website

It's amazing how much work goes into a one page website these days!  We've been working on our new version of our website (which is basically one page) for the last month or so.  The content is "easy" part on one hand and the look and feel / experience is the time consuming part.  To put it another way, it's all about the entire experience, not just the text/content.

Since we're a video company, it's important that they first page show some video...which required production and editing.  We're hunting elephants, so we need to tell the full story of the implementations that we've done for our large clients.  What all can you sell on our platform?  A video?  Audio books?  Movies?  TV Shows?  What else?  We needed to talk about our onboarding process for the big guys.  What's the shopping cart integration look like?  We have an entirely new round of apps coming out soon, so we need to show those off.  We need to answer that question of "What do our apps look like?"    Everybody wants analytics right?  You want to know who watched what - for how long, when and where!  What about all of the ways you can monetize - subscriptions (SVOD), transactional (TVOD) - rentals and purchases, credit-based purchases, and more.  What about those enterprises who need to restrict (or allow) viewing based on location?

Yes, it's quite a story that we've learned over the past few years.  Enterprises (a.k.a. Elephants) need it all.  We're "enterprise guys" after all.  It's natural for us to hunt Elephants.

Let's walk through this step-by-step.  In some ways it's like producing movie.  A lot of moving parts, a lot of post editing and ultimately comes down to the final cut.

What is that you want to deliver?  Spoken word?  TV Shows?  Training?  Workouts?  Maybe you want to jump right into why digital, how to customize or other topics...

Let's talk about why go digital?  Does it seem obvious to you?  It's not obvious to everyone.  Companies are still selling a lot of DVDs.

Any device, anywhere, any time!  That's how your customers want the content.

We have everything from APIs to Single Sign On, and SO much more...we are in fact an enterprise solution.

It's time to talk about the benefits.  We have these awesome apps that we've spent a fortune developing and allowing our clients to have full branding experience as you see here for UFC FIT.

We integrate to most of our large customers existing shopping carts.  We simply receive an instant payment notification from them to authorize a new customer.

I'm a data guy at heart, so we track everything about who's watching what, where they are watching from and so much more.  Our analytics reporting shows you this data.  Ultimately this leads to strategic upsell to existing customers.  It's always easier to sell someone who's already purchased over a new customer.

What website would be complete without a full list of client testimonials?

If you can dream up a way to monetize your content, we can implement it.  Credit based subscription systems to straight out purchase...we have it all!

What if you want to sell through affiliates?  How about selling the InteliVideo platform as an affiliate?  Our founders came from ClickBank, so we understand Affiliate payments and how to process them.

Do you need a step-by-step guide to our implementation process?  Well...if so, here you have it!  It's as simple as 5 steps.  For some customers this is a matter of hours and for others it's months.  The first step is simply signing up for an InteliVideo account at: 

We handle payment processing for you if you would like.  But...most big companies have already negotiated their merchant processing rates AND they typically already have a shopping cart.  So we integrate as needed.

Loading up your content is pretty easy with our platform.  Then again, we have customers with as few as one product and others with thousands of products and 10s of thousands of assets (videos, audio files, etc.).  Most of our big customers simply send us a drive.  We have a bulk upload process where you give us your drive and all of the metadata (descriptions) and the mapping of each...and we load it all up for you.

Our customers can use our own sales pages and/or membership area...or we have a template engine that allows for comprehensive redesign of the entire look and feel.  Out of the box implementations are simple...

Once our clients sign off on everything and our implementation team does as's time to buy your media, promote your products and start selling.  We handle the delivery.

For those who would like to sign up or need more information, what website would be complete without a contact me page?  There are other pages (like our blog, about us, etc), but this page has a lot of information.  It's a story.  At the bottom of the page there is a "Small Business" link, which takes you to the prior version of our website...for small businesses.

As I said at the beginning of this blog's amazing how much thought goes into a new web page!  We're very excited about our business.  Hopefully this post helped you think through how you want to tell the stories about your business.  How should you focus on your elephants and tigers?  How often should you update your website?  Go forth and crush it!

This new version of our website should be live in the next day or always, I'd love to hear your feedback!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Elephant Hunting

Most every startup that I've watched (and been part of) has grand plans of virality.  Build it and they will not just come to you, but they will flock to you!  There is a dream that what you have built is going to change the world and it's going to be so obvious to everyone that they will want to share the news with all of their friends.  It's a good dream and there is a dose of reality that hits you dead in the face at some point.

When I started InteliVideo, it seemed SO clear to me that we had developed an amazing offering that everyone would tell all of their friends about us.  It was also clear to me that all of my friends who were in the training business (doing training in person or virtually - via WebEx) would choose to start offering their training through our platform.  After all, they have a brand, they have a customer base and they want to provide their training to their customers.  They certainly don't want to put their training into YouTube and serve it up for free.  They certainly don't want their customer to watch their training and then at the end of the video for them to see 10 of their competitors videos to choose from.  This seemed so obvious to me. clearly wasn't clear to them because they didn't flock to our platform - even though I offered it to them repeatedly.

After all, I knew just how easy it was for me to create my content (i.e. record a video lesson), bundle up a series of lessons into a product, set a price and away I went, selling my training online.  I knew just how excited and energized many of my students were to be able to watch my training.  They could watch it one time or 1000 times - at their own learning pace.  I could see their progress!  In fact, I knew that many of students came to me and asked for additional custom lessons, which I charged them a consulting fee to produce for them (i.e. $200 for one lesson).  I set up the lesson at $200 in the platform (without any videos in it), asked them to pay for the lesson, then I recorded it and attached it to the product...and reduced the price of the lesson for future purchasers to $15-25.  In other words, I created new content for a fee AND I was able to sell it time and time again.

You see, I've written 6 technical books (on average about 1000 pages each) that took 6-12 month of my life to write.  Sure, it generates credibility in a subject area, but it doesn't generate a lot of direct revenue.  Whereas recording and then selling a video-based course requires less than one one hundredth of the effort of writing a book for the same, actually better output.

Where am I going with all of this?  Well...after trying to convince 1000s of small business owners that they should use our platform, offering them free trials to see just how easy it is, talking endlessly about what's in it for them, we concluded that this futile effort of virality is insanity.  The common definition I hear for insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.  We continued to try to convince people - sure with more convincing messages - but the "conversion rate" (the number of people who signed up and were successful) was not good.

When we stopped and looked at who are real customers are that generate real revenue, we quickly discovered that they are what we might refer to as elephants.  Big companies who completely understand how to develop, curate, sell, and ultimately deliver valuable content to their customers...who buy from them time and time again.

So we changed our approach and our website to communicate to the elephants.  This new approach will go live today.  The "old approach" will show up as a "Small Business" link at the bottom of the page.  The new approach explains the deeper details of integration, APIs and things that are important to the larger companies who know to sell their valuable content.

We've had GREAT success with our elephants and we're VERY excited about where they are taking us!  We have a TON of new functionality that we continue to roll out each week.  We have integrated with a number of shopping carts.  We've created a new template system that will allow us to create a completely different look and feel for each of our clients.  We're launching a whole new series of brandable apps in the next few weeks.  We completely understand just how important our apps are to our success and have spent a fortune recreating our apps from the ground up.

It's been an exceptionally gifted ride over the last year.  We finalized our series A round this summer. Startups are an adrenaline junkie's dream job.  One day you're riding high on your laurels of success and the next day you're wondering how you're going to get to a cash flow positive position.  All the while, life, real life goes on.  Your family continues to age, grow up, build their own businesses and maybe you're not out having as much "fun" as you might like to.  For me that translates to not riding my dirt bike or snowmobile as much as I would like.  But I'm having fun in the business - that's the tradeoff.

That's what I call opportunity cost.  Each day you could be doing what you're doing or something else.  Take a minute to think about the cost of what you're doing right now.  Should you be hunting virality or elephants?

Friday, August 22, 2014

DRM Free Downloads - Is That OK?

I talked to a prospect today that was using a competitive platform to deliver their video products.  We talked extensively about differentiation of InteliVideo over their current platform (from brand to analytics to customers to apps and so on).  But one thing that came up had to do with DRM free downloads.  You might think that's a good thing if you don't understand what it they did.  I said "so you're OK with your customers downloading the MP4 and putting it on YouTube or emailing it to their friends or throwing it on a thumb drive."  He said, "no, our customer's can't do that."  So I showed him the language on their website (DRM free downloads), to which he replied, "right, it's protected."  When I looked puzzled, he said "what is DRM?"  I said DRM stands for Digital Rights Management.  You can think of it as protection.  So that wording is saying "you get this video that has NO protection, use it as you wish."  Of course there's likely wording in the click through contract that says the customer is only supposed to use the content on their own devices.'ve just handed them a risky piece of content. my humble opinion, I was say that "no" - DRM free downloads is not OK.

How the Big Boys Do It!

We have a number of VERY large (video on demand) customers.  We've broken our customer-base into 3 categories:

1. Infoprenuers - these are companies who do something and have video, but video is not their primary business.  For example, RunBare.  Their primary business is teaching people how to run in your barefeet.  They do have a video on this topic, along with books and other items.  Another example is BDB Software, which is my original side consulting business.  I started it to sell online Oracle Application Express training.  So all the business does is video, yet, I'm the CEO at InteliVideo.  That's my primary business - so BDB is just a side business.  You could say that Infoprenuers are wannabes.

2. Enterprise Content Providers (ECP) - these are companies who's primary business revolves around selling digital goods, education, etc. online.  These are the "big boys" of our industry.  In this blog post I'm going to talk more about how the Infoprenuer can become an ECP.

3. Corporations - these are companies that use video content to educate their own employees.  They typically aren't interested in selling their videos, they are interested in protecting their videos.

So how do the big boys become so big.  Like any business, it's typically over an extended period of time.  Even those who focus on infomercials are not usually overnight successes.  Take P90X or Beachbody.  They've been selling DVDs for MANY years.  Infomercials contribute to their success, but also the fact that they figured out how to do affiliate marketing is another large piece of their success.

So how do they do it?  Creative marketing, marketing, and more marketing - lots of it!  Promotions, A/B split tests, refining the message and analyzing what works and building on it.  Said another way, they are professional marketers!  You might ask - social marketing or pay per click marketing or SEO or.... - the answer is yes.

You want to get big?  Well's time to focus.  On what?  One guess!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Employee or Member Training

Do you have a group of employees or members that you would like to train?  Would you like to make the training available for a limited time only - such as for 2 weeks?  Would you like to have the ability to take the ability to view the training away at your discretion (such as when an employee leaves the company)?  Would you like to know who watched which videos?  For example, did Jim watch the introductory video on Tuesday as he said he did?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, I have great news for you!  The InteliVideo platform supports all of these needs and more.  In fact, you can upload any number of videos, you can group them as you wish, you can give people access or deny access at any time (even if they have downloaded videos to their iPad, they will no longer be able to watch them once you deny access.

Below I'm going to run you through an actual use case for a company that's using our platform to train their employees.

Signing Up for an InteliVideo Account

Signing up for InteliVideo is an easy, painless and free process.  First, go to the InteliVideo site and click on "Sign Up:"

You will be asked for your subdomain name (typically something like your company name), first name, last name and email address.  Finally, just fill in the Captcha (anti-spammer protection) information and click on "Create Account."

You will then receive an email that will provide your InteliVideo account information.  Congratulations!  You're getting closer!

Customizing the Site with Your Logo, Color Scheme, etc.

Once you create your account, you'll be taken to the "Display" page within the InteliVideo administration / backend pages.  This is where you can update your subdomain name, logo, color schemes, page header, choose a template (look and feel) and so much more.  We work with most of our customers to make sure that the look and feel of their main website matches the look and feel of their InteliVideo website.  If you want to point your domain to our website, we can do that for you too.  For example, if you signed up for and you want to change it to, we can even do that for you!

Signing Up for a Paid Account

Under "Account Settings" and then "My Plan" you can sign up for a paid account.  The highest value is in the $249/year account.  It includes more videos, storage, etc. in the plan.  You can always go over the number of hours or minutes provided, we just charge by the minute for those overages.

Uploading Your Video(s)

Uploading your videos is easy!  Simply drag and drop your videos into the platform and we do the rest for you!  When you click on the "Videos" tab, you'll see an "Upload Videos" button.  Click on this button, which will present you with a window like this one:

You can drag and drop any video file into the "Drag file here" section or you choose files, import them from Dropbox, download from a URL and there are other options.  If you have 100s of video files, we will work directly with you to get your videos into the platform.  Most of our customers who have more than 100 videos will send us a hard drive with the videos and we'll upload them.

Once the videos are uploaded, we take care of transcoding.  Transcoding is just a fancy way of saying that we convert just about any source video file format (MOV file, AVI file, VOB, etc.) into a number of different resolutions and formats so that your video will play on any device.  Another way of explaining this is that we take care of the hard stuff for you.

You'll see your videos in the list along with a status.  If the video file is corrupt, you would see an error message, but most of the time once your videos are transcoded, you'll see that you can watch the video as you see here below:

You can also edit the details (i.e. the description, if it's a public or private video, etc.) by clicking the edit button:

As you can see, you can edit the short (title) and long description here.  You can also indicate whether a video is public or private here.  Public means anyone can view it for free.  Private means you must be a member (or buyer) to view the video.  The override image allows you to upload an image that should be used as the default background image for the video.  If you don't upload an override image, we extract the first frame of the video and we use that image.

If there is a 1:1 correlation between your video and a product, you can click on "Create Product" in the list of videos page above.  Most of the time a product is made up of more than 1 video, but sometimes this is a good starting point for a product.  You can always add more videos to a product.

Grouping Your Video(s) into a Product

If you didn't click the "Create Product" button above, you'll need to create a product.  A Product is simply a bundle of videos that you wish to offer to the public, for sale or for members.

Click on the "Products" and then click on "New Product."  You'll see that there are a number of options here:

Again, you can set a short (title) and long description for your product.  You can determine whether the product is available to the public, members only or for sale.  If it's for sale, you can determine if the product is a one time payment, a rental, subscription or installment payment.

Offering Products for Sale

If you want to sell your products, you must connect your InteliVideo account with a Stripe account.  If you don't have an existing Stripe account, you can create one through our platform.  If you already have a Stripe account, you can connect to that account.  Either way, click on "Connect with Stripe" and we'll walk you through step-by-step what if required to connect InteliVideo and Stripe.

Granting Access to a Product / Video

Any product that is available for sale or for members only can be granted access (or revoked/denied) manually.  Click on the "Customers" tab, which will show you a list of your existing customers/members.  To add a new customer or member, click on "New Customer:"

Enter the first and last name along with the email of the person and select any products that you would like them to have access to.  IPs allow indicates how many unique locations you want the user to be able to access your video from.  The default is 8.  If you wanted them to be able to access it from one computer only, you could change this to 1.

You can view any customer/member by clicking on their name from the customer page.  You can click on "Edit User" to disable the user.  As you can see here, when you drill into a user, you'll see their usage stats:

When you edit the user, you can disable the user at any time.

Timed or Dripped Content

Within the details of every product, you can reorder the videos and the order they are displayed in by dragging any video into the correct order:

You can also set up a delayed delivery schedule or "drip schedule" for each video.  In other words, if you want Module 1 to be available for days 0 through 7 (first week), you can set that schedule up.  If you wanted all of the videos to be available for 3 weeks, you could set each video to 0 through 21.

Knowing Who's Watched What

The InteliVideo platform tracks all of the usage for every video whether it's watched streaming or downloaded and watched on a plane.  You saw one example of those usage statistics for a specific customer/member above.  There are MANY other ways of slicing and dicing the data to know what your customers/members are watching, what they are having a difficult time with (i.e. they are watching repeatedly), and what they aren't watching.  You can see where (in the world) they were when they were watching, what devices they watched from and so much more.  We are data guys, so believe me when I say "we track everything!"

Employee / Member's Viewing Options

We support about every device out there for viewing.  Most video platforms only support streaming videos.  This limits your members to watching when they have an Internet connection.  We have apps for iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android (phones and tablets), Chromecast, Roku, Windows computers, Apple computers and much much more.

The apps manage which content users can access and they keep track of those usage statistics when people are disconnected from the Internet and they upload those stats when the person's phone, tablet, laptop, etc. "phones" home.  This allows your customers or members to download a video, yet they don't have access to the source video file.  Therefore they can't archive it to watch it later.  They can't email it to their friends.  They can't post it on Facebook or YouTube.  It also allows you to control when they can no longer watch the product.  If you deny the user, they won't be able to watch the content any more.  The bottom line is that we protect your content and we don't allow people to access the content when you're done allowing them to have access.

Sign Up Today!

If you're ready to sign up for an account at InteliVideo, please do so now!  We would love to have you as a customer!

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.