YouTube has become the go-to source for video distribution and hosting, and, to date, the video giant has seen tens of millions of channels created, where users are uploading their video content in droves — by the second. Professional videographers, amateur smartphone camera operators, and everyone in between is taking advantage of the YouTube limelight, many of them through their channels. Of course, while these channels are a great place to store one’s cache of video, maybe you want to create your own independent video site to host your own videos — to take advantage of all those video optimization assets you can’t get from YouTube.
A startup called VidCaster, which aims to make online video publishing painless and profitable for individual users, small businesses and enterprise clients alike, recently launched a new feature that allows YouTubers to do just that — for free. The online video platform has released a free plan that brings its site-making and video SEO tools to the YouTube ecosystem to let users quickly create their own branded destination sites.
And the best part? VidCaster’s free plan automatically syncs with your YouTube channel, so beyond the initial setup, no maintenance is required. Videos automatically pop up on your YouTube channel once you’ve uploaded them there, and vice versa.
The startup’s first incarnation was a custom content workflow solution that was built for a local San Francisco video media property. VidCaster Co-founder and CEO Kieran Farr said that, after some time, it realized that the video workflow management tool they had created could be turned into a sort of white label service that could be used by all video producers.
Farr said that by providing SMBs and small video producers with the technology to manage their video work flow, hosting, and SEO, they want to let video producers get back to focusing on their content and the creative aspects rather than dealing with technical and workflow logistics.
VidCaster joined 500 Startups’ summer batch, where the CEO said that Dave McClure and company encouraged them to focus on their metrics and to consider launching a freemium model to monetize the business.
VidCaster had initially launched with paid plans, like VidCaster Silver (at $39 a month) and Gold (at $99 a month), which offer elevated levels of storage, bandwidth, and number of users. After building out their suite of features, the startup has now elected to go freemium with its YouTube plan — in what is seemingly a reverse trajectory for most startups, which tend to start with freemium business models.
Farr said that he thinks that Heroku’s approach to monetization, making the platform open and accessible with most features available for free, is the way to go. Then, if users want deeper functionality or customization, only then does it make sense for them to pay. And so far, it’s been working for clients like Zendesk, Twilio, and Airbnb.
Today, VidCaster’s free plan allows users to choose a professionally-designed site theme, upload their logo, and select custom backgrounds and colors to create a tailored look for their videos. And like their paid plans, the new free plan includes automatic video SEO to direct search results on Google and other search engines back to a user’s domain.
Users of the startup’s free plan can set up their site on their own domain name for $20 a year, though for those users that want to put their logo in their player, run their own advertisements, customize CSS and HTML, etc., VidCaster is pushing those users to sign up for their paid plans.
VidCaster’s one-click video site maker and hosting and management platform has also found appeal among investors, as the startup is announcing today that it has raised $350,000 in seed funding led by Quest Venture Partners.
The funding is part of a larger round that the company is currently raising, which looks to include contributions from several other angel and venture investors. Farr said that the company will use the new capital to hire additional developers and push forward to the point where they can release a full-fledged API so that third-parties can start hacking.
For SMBs, corporate marketers and content producers, VidCaster is a cool alternative to the hassle of having to combine separate content management services, like YouTube and WordPress or Brightcove and Custom CMS, for example. With automatic video SEO optimization, YouTube syncing, one-click distribution to a host of video sites, and analytics, VidCaster could be a great resource for SMBs looking for a quick way to host their videos in a way that’s consistent with their brand.
For more on VidCaster, check ‘em out at home here.