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Pixability pulls in $1 million, to help small businesses add video to their marketing toolkit

Posted by Scott Kirsner  February 18, 2011 08:00 AM

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It never hurts to highlight the parallels between your nascent start-up and a more successful and established company. The comparison that Pixability founder Bettina Hein likes to draw is between her 10-person Cambridge firm and Constant Contact, the publicly-traded Waltham company with more than 600 employees. Just as Constant Contact made it easier for small and mid-sized businesses to send out e-mail newsletters and marketing messages to their customers without being considered spammers, Pixability wants to help businesses make better use of online video.

"Creating video is really a hurdle for most smaller companies," says Hein. "They may not have a camera, they may not know who to hire, and they don't know where the video needs to be once it's finished — like YouTube and Facebook." (Hein is second from the left in the picture. The other members of the Pixability team shown are, from left, Andreas Goeldi, CTO, Yelena Kadeykina, marketing director, and Apollo Sinkevicius, operations director.)

Pixability helps its clients produce videos for as little as $895, which can be added to their corporate Web sites and also uploaded to video-sharing sites where prospective customers might find them. (YouTube, Hein points out, is now the #2 search engine people use to find information online, after Google.) For that entry-level price, the company ships out a hand-held Flip video camera, and asks you to shoot up to 30 minutes of raw footage. Once you upload the footage you've shot to a private "online project area," Pixability then handles the editing, integrating imagery like logos, PowerPoint slides, photos, or Web site screenshots. (They also add music.) The whole project gets done within two weeks from the time you upload the footage. One key to Pixability's speed is that the videos are edited by a network of several dozen freelance editors around the country, rather than Pixability staffers.

The company was founded in 2008 to help consumers edit video footage of birthday parties and summer vacations. "That didn't fly," Hein says. In the fall of 2009, she decided to concentrate exclusively on video for businesses, and raised a small seed round from angel investors.

This latest $1 million funding round came together after Hein spoke at a meeting of the Angel Capital Association in Worcester last October. The focus was deal syndication: how the groups could collaborate better when making investments. Now, Pixability will become a kind of poster child for syndication among angel groups. Its latest round includes money from nine different angel groups, including Maine Angels, the eCoast Angel Network in New Hampshire, North Country Angels in Vermont, and Boston Harbor Angels and Launchpad Angel Group in Boston.

Hein says the largest single investor in Pixability is IKEA chairman Göran Grosskopf; he was also an investor and board member at Hein's last start-up, a speech recognition company in Zurich, Switzerland called SVOX AG.

Hein says that only about 15 percent of Pixability's customers so far have been from the Boston area, but that group includes companies like CloudSwitch, High Start Group, MIT, and Houghton Mifflin.

Several of Pixability's board members and board observers, interestingly, have ties to Constant Contact: two were early investors in the e-mail marketing company, and one, Janet Muto, once served as Constant Contact's chief marketing officer.

Hein is also the founder of a networking group for about 100 female leaders called the "She-EOs," which convenes once a month for a meal. (There is no Web site yet.)

(The Globe covered Pixability in greater detail last May.)

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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