With 50,000 Videographers, PopTent Raises $5.5 Million From MK Capital To CrowdSource Ads

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High-quality video ads can be expensive to produce, running in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, depending on the ad format. But rather than hire a production agency to do their dirty work, Poptent proposes a better way for agencies and brands looking to produce video ads and other messaging: Crowdsource them. And it’s raised a $5.5 million round of funding led by MK Capital to get more advertisers and videographers on board.

Poptent has built a platform for crowdsourcing videos from users around the world, which allows brands and agencies to submit various assignments and receive finished videos in return. It’s also got a pretty huge network of videographers from around the world — more than 50,000 from 140 different countries — who can respond to those assignments, giving advertisers plenty of content to choose from.

Participating videographers get judged based upon the quality of their work, and build a portfolio by participating in various assignments, even if they’re not chosen. But the goal is to prove the quality of one’s work, which ultimately will lead to more jobs and more money over time. There are three different levels of assignments: There are open assignments, which anyone can submit a video for; there are invite assignments, through which a group of 25-50 videographers are chosen to compete; and production assignments, through which video jobs are basically *ahem* assigned.

To date, Poptent says it has paid out more than $5 million to videographers since being founded in 2007. That might not sound like a lot, but the rate at which its assignments are coming in — and the paychecks are cut — continues to accelerate. It had only paid out about $2 million by late last year, so it’s more than doubled its revenues in less than 12 months. And it’s getting some big-name brands on board: Companies like Dell, Intel, Jaguar, and Walgreens have paid for video ads and messaging produced by Poptent’s network of videographers.

Poptent’s latest funding comes after it raised $3 million in October 2010. The company has grown pretty aggressively already and plans to double headcount versus last year, to about 70 employees.

Poptent CEO Andy Jedynak says it took on the new funding basically to invest further in its growth curve and accelerate the number of ads that are created by participating videographers. It will do that mostly through increased product development and expanding its sales and support staff.

It’s also going for increased international expansion. Poptent has gotten a number of big wins in Brazil and the Philippines recently, and continues to see strong growth in Europe and North America. It’s also attracting interest from more remote locations, including recent submissions from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Romania.