I have always been an avid entrepreneur, a holder of multiple patents and involved in a variety of things from on-licence alcohol dispense systems to record labels, robotics and to Laser spectroscopy gas detection products, and I’m always looking for the next big opportunity and 3 years ago my biggest opportunity yet presented itself; YouTube was going to launch a product called YouTube Red. This product was going to destroy the livings of millions of artists because what YouTube was going to do was paywall their content. To do this they had to force all the musicians to use it so a contract was sent out that users of YouTube would have to sign, this contract, in short, stated that all music had to be released onto YouTube first before anywhere else and YouTube had the rights to pay what they wished per stream. At the time I had a small record label and a couple of radio stations and well knew that the bulk of the music is listened to via streaming, so saw this as an opportunity to take on one of the worlds’ streaming giants.
The solution was to build our own video streaming platform, completely independent of any other companies. So, we owned all the technology from the servers through to transcoders, players and the website. This product wasn’t built from a series of modules, it was built from the ground up. Whilst this was incredibly expensive to do, it meant our ongoing running costs where minimal. In fact, for several tens of thousands of users per month, it was a mere $100 or so to run. This meant that we could pay out an effective rate of almost 1 cent per stream, unheard of prior to this platform, especially when compared to YouTubes $0.00064 cents per stream! The platform grew nicely as the press continued to come out pushing YouTube Red and we grew to around 500,000 annual users within a matter of months and 35,000 videos or so. With the site fully monetised it was certainly going in the right direction!
About 2 years into the project, so 2016, YouTube canned YouTube Red, the public backlash was too bad and it was likely to disrupt YouTube, which is a significant part of Googles’ business. With the threat gone, and YouTube still having a massive volume of users people migrated back to the platform and ours slowly died.
Business Pivot time:
One of my hobbies is photography and I had theorised that if we could store and distribute video so cheaply, photos, at a fraction of the size could be just easily stored and distributed at a fraction of the cost (for example 35,000 videos at $7 a month to store vs 35,000 photos at less than $0.02 a month to store!) This meant that the whole business model for videos could be adapted to instead of sending out video, store and send out photos, whilst also monetising the photos. In effect, we had created the worlds’ first, free to use, paid per view photo hosting platform. In short think of it like Spotify but for photos!
ClickASnap was born, the video platform had been rebuilt with photos in place of video, we had over a million photos in storage, the site is fully monetised, not just by advertising but also paid accounts and our site is backed by one of the world’s top photographers, Mike Browne. It’s still early days but we have 2 million images viewed per month, and we are still the only platform in the world that rewards our users with real money just by having their photos looked at.
Everyone sets out with a vision for their business, what they want it to do, where they want it to go, and how they see themselves. You cannot get attached to this. You will encounter failures, competition, funding issues and many more things will pop up, most of which you cannot even envisage until it’s there in front of you. You need to be able to remain agile and adaptable to help to ensure the safety of your investment and of those who invest in you. We started with a video site and ended up with a photo site, YouTube started as a dating site and ended up a video site, who knows where you’ll end up!
Tom is an entrepreneur across a wide range of disciplines. He’s rebuilt and restored engines from a few horse power to 90,000 horse power sulzers. A holder of multiple patents including the worlds first beer cold sterilisation technology, cask real time volumetrics and high speed volatile fluid dispense as well as a knowledge across a variety of subjects from robotics, IC engines, electronics, pneumatics, hydraulics, server systems.@tomforex