Reelio, a startup that describes itself as “the Match.com of brands and creators on YouTube,” is announcing that it has raised a “significant seven-figure” seed round (so, more than $1 million).
As the description implies, Reelio’s goal is to help brands find creators YouTube who can post videos featuring their products. Even without Reelio, those brands could find, say, the 1,000 most popular YouTube channels. The startup, however can help them go deeper, identifying creators who might not be quite as popular, but who still create good stuff and who can collectively reach a large, engaged audience, said co-founder and CEO Pete Borum.
“There’s this perception of YouTube that it’s just cat videos — not that I’m denigrating cat videos,” Borum said. “But the thing about YouTube is that it’s the second largest search engine on the planet, and there’s so much diverse, high quality content.”
Reelio collects data about creators across YouTube and can help brands identify the ones that they’d want to work with. It’s not just about having a hit video that gets lots of views and comments, Borum said, but also producing content on a consistent basis. Then, once the brand says they’re interested, Reelio will reach out to the creator and ask if they want to opt in to receive these kinds of sponsorship offers.
Borum said Reelio allows these brands’ to be highly involved in the creation of these videos, or to be completely hands off, just giving Reelio a budget and letting the startup take care of the rest, or somewhere in between. He’d earlier suggested that some of the best content is created when brands give the outside talent complete control.
For example, he pointed to Casey Neistat’s video ostensibly promoting the film The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, in which Neistat spends his budget helping typhoon victims. (To be clear, that video wasn’t created through Reelio, it’s just an illustration of the creative potential that Borum sees here.)
The funding was led by e.ventures, with additional funding from KRW Schindler Private Ventures, Tremor Video co-founders Jason Glickman and Andrew Reis, former Bertelsmann president and executive board member Thomas Hesse, and various angel investors.
Borum said that he and his co-founders Benjamin Williams and Mark Borum previously experimented with other ideas, including the creation of a General Assembly-type education program for YouTube content creators. While they went in a different direction eventually, the team did hold a few classes, and they came up with the current idea after talking to those creators about their experiences and their needs.
Will the videos that result from these kinds of sponsorships be any good? Well, Reelio is currently in private beta, but the company has already run a campaign with Zazzle, and I’ve embedded one of the videos below — note that the video isn’t about Zazzle, per se, but it does feature a candy jar purchased from Zazzle and includes a coupon code for the site. If you’re feeling the holiday spirit, you can watch continue watching the full playlist for the Christmas portion of the campaign (Borum said 19 more videos were created for Valentine’s Day).
Update: The round totaled $1.295 million, according to a regulatory filing.