Many of us used to see some startups experience huge traffic increase by a simple but viral video, and hoped they could do the same thing. Unfortunately soon they found out that doing a viral video was not as easy as what they thought. I tried all different kinds of approaches to making a great video and now I’m sharing my experiences here and I categorise these approaches based on the budget.
Budget $0 – $200
In this category, you basically are looking at making a viral video by yourself, the key factor is the creativity. I tried to make one using iPhone iMove app for a couple’s app whose target is young college couples or married couples. Since the target was so clear, we shoot a few clips that delivers some typical life scene that couples encounter everyday. With an iPhone camera, you can’t have a high expectation on the video quality but you do want to emphasise on if your video could resonate with your customers. I suggest personal developers who has a passion to create stories or has a low budget to try this and you will find it incredibly fun!
Budget $200 – $1,000
With this budget, you are looking at some individual freelancers to help you with the videos, mostly animation intros due to the limit of the budget. The video makers who accepts this budget may not be the top ones unless you are really lucky to meet some professionals who wants to earn some fast cash, which is the situation that rarely happens. So I went to the to find good individual video makers. However one of the problems in this price range when you use is there are always way too many freelancers who are not very good bidding for your project and you have to waste a lot of time in reviewing their portfolios. Thus, in order to create a natal filter to clear out these disqualified video makers, a few tips for making a good introductions for your project.
  • Be clear about what form of video you are looking for, 2D animation or 3D?
  • Do you want them to write the scripts for you? or you will provide it.
  • Do you have sample video that’s similar to what you want? post the link.
  • How long is the video ideally? 
  • What kind of portfolios/sample videos you want them to provide?
With these restrictions, you will find much better freelancers bidding at your project. However, there may be another circumstance happen: you will find very few bids since your budget isn’t sufficient to match your restrictions. 
Budget $1,000 – $12,000 
With this budget, you will find more talented professionals who make quality videos for you, not necessarily animations, maybe they will help you shooting real scene will actors as well, depending on the budget you provide. Where to find these people? it’s not easy since lots of times they don’t do this on a full time basis, meaning they don’t spend much money on advertising their skillets or services. 
Other than, you could go to some famous VC firm website who provides startup services for their own startup portfolio such as Google Ventures, where you will find their design team or video service team, try your luck to contact them through LinkedIn, it does work sometimes. 
Budget $12,000 – $100,000
With this budget, congratulations, you are halfway to a viral video! I strongly recommend this company called: Sandwich Video, they made so many awesome videos for startups such as Airbnb, Ebay, Summly and Couple. Personally I like their video style very much! I don’t need to elaborate too much for this budget range since the service providers would give you better idea about how to make a great video. 
Budget Above $100,000
You may not be able to see many startup product video that costs more than $100,000. The difference between this category and the previous one is “who is the actor in the video?”, a very funny story I heard from my friend in South Korea, one of the most popular app for couples, Between, spent about $300,000 on their promotional video during their angel round. Most of the cost goes to the pocket of the actors in the short intro video, some Korea drama star and a reputable movie director. I guess though this move didn’t make their investors very happy, they do attract lots of traffics during that time in South Korea. 
I was lucky enough to be invited to the very first Pre-money conference organised  by 500 start-ups last Thursday. PreMoney is a 1-day conference about the most disruptive models, platforms, and strategies for modernizing venture capital. Featuring the world’s leading investors & thought leaders such as Marc Andreessen (Andreessen Horowitz), Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures), Kate Mitchell (Scale Venture Partners), Dave McClure (500 Startups), Josh Kopelman (First Round Capital), Naval Ravikant (AngelList) and more.

Today I just want to focus on Paul’s speech and share some valuable insights from him. To start, I guess everyone is more or less familiar with Y combinator, one of the most successful incubators in U.S. and even the world, a list of data as followed:

  • Invested in 564 start-ups in total, including 53 in the current batch
  • Total post money valuation is 11.6B USD (Covering 285 start-ups out of 564)
  • The total investment that YC backed start-ups got so far: 1.7B USD
  • Top 10 YC companies have a total valuation of 8.6B (74.1%)
Below I summarised # points from this speech and listed the reasons behind.

In general, the average investment return will increase.
There are two reasons, the first reason is that starting a company is getting easier than anytime before, thus the number of startups will increase dramatically. The second is mainly due to the decrease in cost when you start a company. It would feel absurd if there’s a company calling themselves the “500 start-up”. The whole industrial re-structuring process would ultimately create more start-ups to replace some of the slow moving big companies.

There is a rule: every year, there are constantly 15 successful start-ups appearing. 
To many people’s surprise, The number of 15 is not limited by the advancement of technology, but the number of good founders. Once we could educate more qualified start-up founders, the limiting number 15 could possibly become 50.

Angels’ gonna have a better opportunities to compete with VCs
Previously, Angels has such a disadvantage of finding good projects or companies; Also, they suffered at the negotiation table when start-ups move to series A round due to their weak bargaining power. Now they stand a much better opportunities when platforms like Angie’s list came out. All companies, – no matter good or not, are basically there and all investors could access it.

Moving more quickly with early-stage investments
If there existed reputable investor who would invest $100,000 on market terms within 24 hours, they would be able to access the best startups. Though the VC would be approached by bad startups as well, at least they’d see everything in the market. In contrast, Firms who tend to be slower in making their investment decision would be approached last.

Right now, VCs knowingly invest too much in the Series A stage.
Another way that venture firms could differentiate themselves is to break from the typical 20 percent in equity that they ask for during Series A investments. VCs are investing too much and startups are raising too much more than what they actually need during that fund raising period, but that could change if someone were willing to break ranks and actually invest less, but for less equity.

“Some VCs lie and say that the company needs that much,” he said. “Others are more candid and admit that their business models require them to own a certain percentage of the company, but we all know that the amounts being invested are not determined by the amount that the companies need.”

“If there exists a reputable VC who is willing to only invest the amount of money that the founder is willing to accept, it stands the opportunity the reap huge benefits, since the best startups are always where the money is, ” Graham said.


    Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.


    July 2013