Have you ever watched tv and thought that you could create a better commercial for something than the one you just watched? Well that’s exactly what Diek Minkhorst and Sam Reitman were thinking one night while they were just chilling in college. Most advertising is boring and while advertisers want to attract buyers with hot models, and beautiful pictures, these ads don’t resonate well because they aren’t the actual users.
That’s why Minkhorst and Reitman created Charlotte startup Womadz (they have a presence in New York as well).
Womadz hosts online video contests for their brand partners encouraging film makers and those people that just make silly videos for fun, to make videos about products and advertisers. The video makers have an opportunity to win prizes and the advertisers have the option to have great content provided to them by a variety of people. That’s where the crowdsourced part comes in.
Once the video contest is initiated Womadz encourages the general public to check out the videos and vote on the ones they like the best. That’s where the winning and the prizes come in.
We got a chance to talk with Minkhorst about Womadz. Check out our interview below.
What is Womadz?
Womadz is the newest platform for crowdsourced advertising. We host online video contests on behalf of different brands in order to source content to be used in marketing and advertising. Our awesome community of filmmakers responds to brands’ different assignments during the upload period for the chance to win big cash prizes. After that, we allow consumers to come in and vote for their favorite content.
We incentivize consumers to come and vote by awarding people for voting on the video that generates the most votes. In our first contest, “Be the First”, 30 lucky voters who vote for the winning video will be awarded $50. Imagine winning $50 just for watching a few videos! Finally we encourage consumers to share their favorite content as well. For every video a user watches on the site, they have a unique URL available in the video player which they are encouraged to spread socially. Every time people watch a video through their link, that user receives points. The more views a user generates per contest, the more points they get per view. The best part is that those points are redeemable for CASH!
Our platform allows us to deliver creative, original, proven content to brands. In a world where brands are constantly needing more and more video content to stay competitive, Womadz is a highly efficient solution to develop that content. For a fraction of the price of traditional advertising, brands are able to develop massive amounts of fully developed content.
In layman’s terms, how does it work? (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother)
We host online video contests for different brands. Brands can then take those videos generated through the contest and use them for marketing and advertising. We love our community and we love giving away money, so we make sure that users are rewarded for producing videos, voting for videos and sharing their favorite videos socially.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Womadz was founded by myself, Diek Minkhorst and Sam Reitman. We met in undergrad at Georgetown University at an entrepreneurship competition where we were competing directly against each other. After the contest, we decided to unite forces and pursue some business ventures together. After undergrad I went into investment banking and Sam pursued his law degree at Georgetown. After a while, we decided enough was enough and we needed to officially launch our company together. The idea from Womadz spawned late night in college when Sam and I were living together. It had sat on the backburners for a long time until 2011 when we started talking about taking the plunge.
Where are you based?
Womadz is based between Charlotte, NC and New York City.
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
Charlotte has a phenomenal up and coming startup scene. Dan Roselli founded a place called the Packard Place which has become THE hub for startups in the area. It’s a great place to mingle with other founders and learn from a vast wealth of experience.
How did you come up with the idea for Womadz?
Womadz was an idea hatched late night in college when Sam and I were living together. We both thought that the ads we were seeing on TV just weren’t appealing to anyone anymore. It felt like every ad was just fitting squarely into a boring old mold without any sort of pizazz. Brands weren’t connecting with their consumers. Womadz was created to make that connection. We wanted to create an environment that allows consumers, the ones who are interacting with a brand, to have a say in the process of creating ads. We wanted to allow filmmakers to be creative and work with big brands, and we wanted to allow non-filmmakers to also have an opportunity to be a part of a brand’s ecosystem.
How did you come up with the name?
Womadz stands for “Word of Mouth Advertising”. Our platform allows consumers to spread their favorite content far and wide to build a viral base for the videos before a brand even launches them.
What problem does Womadz solve?
We solve the problem of stale ads being produced for brands at astronomical prices that fail to resonate with consumers. We want to create ads that consumers love watching and sharing. The fact that it happens to be an ad is just an afterthought for consumers watching our videos.
What’s your secret sauce?
Broad consumer engagement. There are a few other video contest sites out there with awesome communities of filmmakers, and we embrace that same community, but beyond that community, there is little engagement with other consumers. We wanted to create an environment where everyone could participate. We allow brands to engage their entire consumer base through our process and allow everyone to be a part of the brands’ ecosystems. That’s what separates us from our competitors.
Are you bootstrapped or funded?
We closed our first round of angel funding in 2011.
What is your goto market strategy?
We launched Womadz about a week ago with our first contest “Be the First!” We are giving away $18,000 in prizes! Everyone should head on over to www.womadz.com to check it out. We are asking filmmakers to submit a 30 second commercial for a fictitious product and be as creative and fun as possible. Even if you’re not a filmmaker, we want to know what you think! If you vote for the winning video, you can win $50 just from watching a few videos! You can also earn points just for sharing your favorite videos which you can then redeem for cash. Anyone can do it!
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Startups are fun but they are definitely a ton of work and at the beginning, its just you. Having to wear a lot of hats has been challenging but it has been a great experience taking on a lot of different roles I wasn’t originally comfortable with. Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
My dad is definitely a huge mentor for me. He had a successful career working for a large consumer electronics company and then spent about 10 years working for a bunch of different startups. He was the one that gave me a lot of the courage to leave my job in investment banking and take the plunge. Sam’s father has also been tremendously helpful and inspiring. He founded his own company, Mijo, over 20 years ago and built it into a very successful company. Whenever we’ve got questions or road blocks, they are always there to go to for guidance.
What’s next for Womadz?
There are some very exciting times for Womadz ahead! We are rapidly expanding our user base and are having a blast watching the videos that users have uploaded so far. We’ve got a great pipeline of activity in the next few months and look forward to launching several new contests in the new year.
Is your startup exhibiting at “everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference”