Backed by 500 Startups and NTT DoCoMo, Cinemacraft enables content producers to present and promote video through a dynamic, mosaic interface

By Editor September 26, 2013
Cinemacraft logo

Cinemacraft logoA Q&A with Cinemacraft founding member Rahul Golecha. The Tokyo-based startup, which has developed a relevance-driven mosaic platform for displaying, presenting, and promoting video, completed a $1.5 million Seed funding round last week. Investors include 500 Startups, Media Camp and NTT DoCoMo Ventures. It was founded in 2012 and just graduated from the Media Camp San Francisco 2013 accelerator.

SUB: Please describe Cinemacraft and your primary innovation.

Golecha: Cinemacraft is a leading interactive media monetization platform. Our private label solution enables brands and publishers to deliver context-driven engagement on videos and photos. Cinemacraft sits at the intersection of content marketing, discovery and social engagement.

Videogram is our primary innovation. Unlike legacy video thumbnails where one thumbnail is used to represent the whole video, Videogram segments videos into scenes to create a mosaic that highlights the most relevant bits with larger tiles based on various factors—in turn giving a user multiple entry points and allowing video to be browsed and discovered with the same simplicity as photos. It uses a proprietary algorithm that takes into account variables including motion, light, color, histogram and duration. Our service enables users to share, like, and comment on clips or frames of a video, providing much more contextual and targeted interaction, and in turn higher engagement.

SUB: Who are your target markets and users?

Golecha: Publishers and brands who want to market their music videos, movie trailers, TV shows, or campaign video, etc. is our main market. We are a platform company where content holders can use our technology to create a Videogram of their video and then share it across social media so as to drive higher virality on the content. Any users who watch videos are our main consumers as now then can flip through the videos like they do photos, and if they like something out of that mosaic they can quickly engage on a particular clip or frame of the video.

SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Cinemacraft from the competition?

Golecha: Currently we don’t see any competition. We are very unique in that regard and our algorithms are proprietary.

SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?

Golecha: We were founded in June, 2012. We got Angel funded by 500 Startups and joined the 500 Startups accelerator program in July. We launched videogram.com in July, 2012, and then our iOS app in August, 2012. Since then, from the technical end we kept on adding features to make it more useful, and from the business end we collaborated with various content holders like Sony Pictures, Fox, Capitol Records, and Turner properties. Some of the popular celebrities or brands who have used Videogram to launch and market their videos includes Jennifer Lopez’s music video ‘Live It Up,’ Justin Timberlake’s movie trailer ‘Runner Runner,’ Sony Pictures’ movie trailer ‘Battle of the Year,’ and the Priyanka Chopra and Pitbull music video ‘Exotic.’

SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Cinemacraft? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?

Golecha: Sandeep Casi, the main founder of Cinemacraft, used to work with companies like Lucasfilm, Fujifilm, and Xerox PARC before, so he always had a vision of bringing the technology and media industry together and that led to the idea of Cinemacraft. We started working together on Videogram—there was no ‘aha’ moment as such in the beginning, but as we kept on building it and launched our first online presence by embedding Videogram into other sites, at that time we had the moment. At that moment we kind of realized that it’s something the video industry needs badly, because a lot of videos go unviewed as the thumbnails representing them are not interesting. Then, gradually we added features like commenting on a frame, sharing a frame, etc., so that you actually share and comment on the part of the video you like and not the whole video.

SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?

Golecha: Videogram means: ‘a physical object containing an audiovisual work, such as a videotape or DVD.’ We thought it completely gives a meaning to what we are trying to do, which is converting videos into mosaic so that it can give you a visual summary—hence we decided to go with this name.

SUB: You just completed a $1.5 million Seed funding round—your second. Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?

Golecha: We have recently raised $1.5 million from NTT DoCoMo Ventures, Turner Broadcasting and 500 Startups. Since the product is in place and some of the big brands are already using it, this funding is a great way to quickly scale on the product and business side.

SUB: How do you plan to use the funds?       

Golecha: We are using this funding to extend our engineering team, iterate on the product and deploy Videogram for more clients. We will be partnering with more content holders, companies or publishers going forward. We are releasing a new version of videogram.com and the app soon, which follows the iOS 7 style. We have added Vimeo, Dailymotion and YouTube so that users can create Videograms from existing video on any of these networks.

SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?

Golecha: No plans at this moment. Currently we are focused on using the funds we have appropriately.

SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?

Golecha: From visas to fundraising, team building to product building, everything was a challenge and I think all startups face it, but one of the biggest challenges was to be a Japanese startup and grow like a Silicon Valley startup in terms of users, clients, and funds. It’s like changing the game without being in the game.

SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?

Golecha: We are still prototyping our revenue models and most of the things are under discussion. But one of the ways in which we have planned to generate revenue is by analytics. Today, the only metric available is how many times the video has been viewed, but what we can offer is what portions inside the video are being watched, shared, or commented on the most, which in turn tells the content holder which part of the video is trending.

SUB: What are your goals for Cinemacraft over the next year or so?

Golecha: Our current goal is to drive more engagement on videos by still keeping the video browsing, interacting and sharing simple. In the long run, our goal is to disrupt the way video is browsed, marketed, and monitized.

Cinemacraft – www.cinemacraft.tv