What I learned from looking at 30 startup videos of the recent YC batch

Video is the fastest growing medium on the mobile web. Turns out even if you are a B2B company these days, the word-of-mouth affiliation you need is often easier to achieve if you have a video more than text, audio or images. Of the 114 companies in the lastest YC cohort I looked at, most had a video on their website. I focused on the ones that had done a good job of explaining their overview using video.

Not surprisingly even CIO’s and traditional B2B buyers also prefer to view videos to reading whitepapers these days.

As a startup, if you are in the consumer space, I’d wager that you want to get your overview video faster than your “text website” which might be SEO friendly. Why?

Most of the early influencers and younger audiences are using YouTube as their search engine more than Google.

So, having reviewed 30+ videos from startups that graduated from YC last cohort, what did I learn about the types and kinds of videos you need for your startup?

I am going to assume that you are just launching your app / service or about to launch it soon. What you are trying to do in less than 2 min is give potential customers and prospects a chance to understand the problem you solve, how you solve it uniquely and how they benefit from the problem solved. I have noticed these 5 types of videos that startups have used so far.

Types of Overview Videos
Types of Overview Videos

In most cases the “goldilocks” overview is less than 2 minutes and there are 7 popular formats for these videos:

1. Product tour on mobile or web: In this type of video, there is a person “showing” the app on their mobile with some upbeat background music. In many ways it is more a demo than necessarily a overview, but it serves the purpose well to get people to understand “what the product or company does”. It was hard to figure out which of these were actually using the product live versus screen captures, but slick production was the key.

2. Live action video with professional actors: As it suggest these are much more produced and directed, and will cost your more, but they tend to show “real” product users in “real” scenarios. I think these are pretty expensive if you are bootstrapped, costing upwards of $10K in most cases, but among consumer Internet (eCommerce especially) startups they seem to be pretty popular.

3. Animated Simple video: In this type of video, there are props used with simple cutouts and voice over. In most of these videos, I found that the startups used animation to to explain abstract complex, or non-intuitive problems, largely in B2B scenarios.

4. Whiteboard explanation: Fairly common as well, is two or sometimes just one person going to the whiteboard explaining what is it the startup does. In many cases, these are fairly technical products and companies, so Open Source product companies tend to use them the most.

5. PPT based slide videos. Used when the founders are not technical, bootstrapped and have strong B2B backgrounds in sales or operations. Since they are unable to put a professional looking video, these are used by folks who dont have a shipping product yet. They are not very effective, but I think they are better than text based pages.

6. Screen capture: Typical to the #2 type, these “show” product, but the screen capture videos are less professionally done. Authentic to a fault, they tend to be quickly done, rather poorly produced, but effective to “demo” the product more than give an overview.

7. Live story with founders: Rarely used, but common in Kickstarter campaigns, these are when the founder (s) are a key part of the sales pitch.

Over the next few days I will showcase a series of posts on the use of video, the types of video and some techniques I use to produce better startup showcase videos.

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