A few months ago Duncan gave instructional video aggregator SuTree an overall positive review, but did point out that “navigation is very much old school and doesn't jump out and hit the casual visitor with a flurry of Ajax and DHTML goodness”.
SuTree recently launched a new version of its site that takes into consideration not only Duncan's feedback but that of many other users as well. Particular attention has been placed on the site's look & feel which was generally characterized as plain, and the addition of new community-building features, such as:
- Courses: A set of videos about a specific subject. The course creator sets the order of the videos, add comments and guidelines to each video, and can even manage a forum for the members of the course.
- Wrap & Send: Users can “package” a bunch of videos together and send to others. For example, if your friend is taking a bartending class, you can send him or her a package of cocktail instructional videos.
While these features are not by any means cutting edge, I believe they fit the type of “mainstream +1″ audience SuTree is catering and will be well accepted by their growing community.
However, the big question is whether an instructional video aggregator can be a viable business. SuTree believes the answer is ‘yes'. To this end, the site is planning on integrating the usual assortment of ads (banners, text, video, etc.), as well as selling relevant products and advice to knowledge seekers.
The crux of this business model is traffic of course and SuTree is claiming 100K unique users per month and 600K page views. They'll need much more than that to truly monetize. Their plan to do so is twofold: First, dedicate funds to marketing (which they have yet to do), and second, rollout more community-building features.
The company has a full plate for the upcoming year as they are planning on closing a round financing, indexing at least 100,000 videos (they are now at 11K), creating more business partnerships and enhancing the community through knowledge sharing channels and features.
Will all this be enough, or will SuTree join the deadpool? We'll likely get an answer in 2008.