Storygami is building a tool to add context to Web video

Storygami

Each week we’re profiling one company that has been selected for Boost – our early-stage startup growth program. Catch up with these companies in person at The Next Web Conference Europe on April 23 & 24.


Video is great for telling stories, but it can’t always tell the whole story. Storygami is on a mission to change that. It lets you easily embed related content like text, images and social media streams into Web video to increase viewer engagement.

You could use Storygami to add background to a news bulletin, share related articles in documentaries, show product close-ups in a video demo or insert calls to action in branded content. Here’s an example I threw together:

Brands like Virgin Media, Al Jazeera, Unilever and Thomson Reuters are already using the tool. The service is currently in beta and will open to the public in April.

Storygami Editor

We chatted with Storygami CEO Heidi Lindvall to find out more about the company and how it plans to revolutionize video on the Web.

Tell us what you do in two sentences.

Storygami makes online video smarter by letting anyone embed related content into their videos. This layered content can be in the form of blogs, articles, image galleries, social feeds and call-to-action buttons. Using Storygami increases audience engagement and retention.

How did the company get started?

Myself and my co-founder Guy Gunaratne ran a video content company called Codoc together. We made documentaries on social issues and also produced videos for corporates and brands. Many of the stories we told were very complex and it started to become evident that the medium of online video was pretty restrictive for messaging of this kind.

Storygami team

So, in 2012 we began looking at the technology around HTML5 video and produced a prototype. Soon, we got to pitch our idea to Sir Richard Branson. We received an awesome response, his backing and a lot of support from the Virgin family.

Who’s your biggest rival and why are you better than them?

Kiosked and Wirewax come closest to using a similar technology to us, but they work mainly with shopping, advertising and entertainment videos. I don’t think some are better than others, they are just different. If you have marketing, educational, training or news videos then Storygami is probably a good choice for you.

Get rich or change the world – which is more important and why?

Changing the world and having an impact is more important .The great thing is that video is such a powerful medium that we can actually do a lot of good. Making videos smarter and more informative leads to more informed opinions, transparency and better conversations.

Tell us one weird fact about a member of your team.

We haven’t planned this but pretty much everyone on our team owns a cat. So I guess we all have a vested interest in making all those cat-videos smarter.

That, and we’re probably the only startup founders who in a previous life used to earn a living walking around war-zones and minefields.

What does success look like for Storygami, and what are the challenges in your path?

Success for us is seeing Storygami being widely used and online video reaching its full potential. Context is definitely the next step for Web-based media and making sure video is part of that is what we’re aiming for. We see a day where if your message is important, you’re going to be using Storygami and not just one-dimensional video.

The challenge is introducing an unfamiliar concept into online video and getting viewers used to that new format. But we’re confident that once they see the benefits in their engagement levels, they’ll certainly want to get on board.

Besides the current features available, what can users look forward to in the future?

When we go live next month, we’ll release an updated design and more dynamic content layers, including data capture forms. We’ll also offer hosting options and further integrations into other platforms.

While Storygami seems focused on creating rich video, do you foresee a content discovery angle for the product (say, a platform for users to search and find annotated video by topic)?

Possibly. It’s something we’ve spoken about. There might be a way of integrating content discovery into our plans for a community.

You can find out more about Storygami and sign up for the beta on its site.

Storygami

Read next: Pith.li wants to let you highlight the best bits of the Web

Read next: Opera adds bookmark syncing across desktops, Android and iOS