This week’s TechStars application tip: The Video

Part of the TechStars application lets you link to a business video and a team video.  I love watching your videos because they give us more insight on who you are and the vision of your product.  Videos often are my favorite part of the application.

So here are some tips to make sure creating a video is time well spent.

1.  Do it in < 1 minute.
Last year, I read over 1200 applications in about 10 weeks, most of those coming in the last day or two.  Most of those applications had videos, many of them had two videos (the team video and the business video).  So do the math with me.  Let’s say there was a total of 1500 videos in total that I had to watch (I’m probably not off by a ton).  And each video averaged 2.5 minutes (some were 15 minutes or longer! very few were less than 2 minutes).  That’s 3,750 minutes of videos, more than 60 HOURS of videos… and that’s just watching the video, it’s not reading the app.  If you’re video is longer than 1 min, I probably won’t watch the whole thing.  I’ll skip around trying to find the good part.  Or if its longer than about 2.5 min, I probably won’t watch ANY of it.  It’s just takes too long to load and it will be impossible for me to find the good part.

How long do TV commercials last?  30 seconds.  They get only 30 seconds to convince you to buy the product.  Treat your video(s) like a commercial. 

2.  Demo your product!  There’s no better way to communicate the value of what you do better than a demo.  And 1 minute is perfectly long enough for a good demo.  Use the biz video to demo.  Don’t worry about login/password… just dive right into the good stuff.  I see lots of people use Presi and similar type applications to highlight what their idea is.  And that’s okay if you don’t have a product yet.  But if you do have something to show, DEMO IT.

3.  Be creative.  Use humor, or at least show some personality.  Be bacon, not white bread.  I watch a lot of videos.  Entertain me.  It helps when I’m on my 900th video and my eyes are crossing.  You don’t need humor to have a good video, but it’s amazing how much more I like a candidate when they make me laugh or show me some personality.  I’m a sucker for creativity.  Plus, it shows me you can think creatively, which is critical for entrepreneurs.

4.  Keep it simple.  Know what a really well produced video tells me?  That you’re a FinalCut Pro ninja, NOT that you have a great startup.  Don’t worry about all the fancy production quality stuff – in fact, it’s the wrong place to spend your time.  Just stand in front of your webcam or use your smartphone.  I’d rather see you spend your time executing, getting traction, and proving out the value.  Keep your video simple and easy and save the hard stuff for executing on your startup.

5.  Include the password!  I can’t tell you how many times I get a video that’s password protected, but the applicant didn’t include the password.  I’m probably not going to email you for it either, I’m just going to skip it (see tip #1 above at how many videos I have to watch).


‘Till next week when we’ll cover The Team section…

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