A Q&A with Buzztala co-founder and CEO Jay DeDapper. The New York City-based startup launched as an independent company out of parent web video firm Zazoom in mid-June.
SUB: Please describe Buzztala and your primary innovation.
DeDapper: Buzztala is like Vine for business. We provide a cloud platform for brands and retailers that allows them to tap into the explosion of user-created video content, give it context and then use it for sales and marketing. As mobile devices have quickly turned us all into massive, regular content creators, Buzztala is the first and only platform built from the ground up to give business the ability to use this content efficiently, effectively, and safely.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
DeDapper: Brands and retailers are eager to take advantage of the power and authenticity of social user content but are not well prepared to handle the challenges of video—especially as most user-created video is now produced with smartphones and tablets. Buzztala is a great way for ecommerce companies to supercharge reviews and testimonials, since video is demonstrably more social and powerful than text. And for brands, asking fans and customers to engage through creating video for a contest or loyalty program can produce strong results.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
DeDapper: Several companies help businesses create product video, and others focus on Facebook campaigns using user-created video, but none are built to give brands a way to control user video content from creation, through distribution, to impact. Apps like Vine and Instagram have large user bases but are consumer focused and so far, don’t give business a way capitalize on the content.
SUB: What differentiates Buzztala from the competition?
DeDapper: Brands need three things when it comes to using customer created video: 1.) Control—they have to be sure only appropriate and effective content goes live and that they are able to brand all elements of the experience so customers feel secure. 2.) Ease of implementation—the more elements are self-serve and the less tech resources have to be brought into the mix, the better. And perfect mobile experiences are non-negotiable. A turnkey cloud-based platform is best. 3.) Impact and ROI—Social content has to be able to generate results through effective sharing and lead generation, strong sales conversion improvements, and deeper engagement. These impacts need to be measurable and easily obtained.
Buzztala is the only solution that gives brands these three elements.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
DeDapper: Buzztala began building a prototype in 2012 as a subsidiary of web video pioneer Zazoom. We showed the prototype to a wide variety of companies in a number of sectors before determining the best fit for the platform was with the needs of brands and ecommerce companies. Live Nation saw the prototype and became our launch customer.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Buzztala? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
DeDapper: The ‘aha’ came after the initial gradual development. As the COO and co-founder at Zazoom, I had helped develop the company’s signature short-form topical content that has become a benchmark for the industry. We recognized almost immediately that Zazoom’s content engendered powerful responses from viewers, but that they were limited to text responses. Since we knew a lot of the content was being consumed on mobile devices—most of which contained cameras, we thought there needed to be a frictionless way for viewers to respond in the same medium they consumed: video. The ‘aha’ moment came during the prototype demos when a media client said, “This would be perfect for ecommerce.”
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
DeDapper: Originally, we named the platform ‘Buzzback,’ but as it became less about video viewers’ responding and more about consumers leaving reviews, testimonials, or participating in contests, we thought something less specific was in order. Since we’d already developed a great logo and branding with our design agency RockPaperPixel, we decided to focus on swapping the last four letters with something else. ‘Tala’ means ‘talk’ in Swedish, which is appropriate, and I Iike Lingonberries so it was settled.
SUB: You recently launched to the public out of beta. Why was this the right time to launch?
DeDapper: The platform was released into beta in the early spring after a fast dev process. We decided to keep the agile model and do feature adds every two-to-three weeks as we heard from the market about what was missing. We did a lot of work all spring, and by mid-June we recognized that we had a great 1.0 product. We’re still adding features—we added self-serve customization to our widget last week—so Buzztala keeps getting better.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point?
DeDapper: We’ve raised early capital and are just opening a new round that will fund an aggressive market expansion program later this year.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
DeDapper: At first, it was being a bit ahead of the curve. We spent a lot of time showing research about the impact and efficacy of user-created content in general and consumer video in particular to potential clients and investors. Video has been the ‘next big thing’ for years, but has never quite arrived as the blockbuster investment. We were lumped in as a video play because there really was no ‘user content’ play. Thanks to Vine, Instagram, Keek, Viddy and others, there is now.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
DeDapper: We have earned revenue from custom implementations in which we use our platform to power specific applications for clients. In other cases, clients pay relatively modest integration fees for us to set up a white-labeled version of Buzztala for their specific uses. In all cases, we have a monthly license fee that covers unlimited storage, bandwidth, and support.
SUB: What are your goals for Buzztala over the next year or so?
DeDapper: I think large organizations often have the resources to do just about anything but lack the agility and imagination to execute. Small organizations are plenty agile and imaginative but don’t have the cash or manpower to do all the things they want to do. So in the case of customer-created content, I think we are right on the cusp of a major change in how marketers approach it. I see Buzztala being the one platform that allows bigger organizations to use it as a foundation for big projects while giving even the smallest website a chance to integrate content from their customers in a way that is affordable and impactful.
Buzztala – www.buzztala.com