Filmmaker's software start-up gets $600k funding

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Wellington filmmaker and entrepreneur Rollo Wenlock.
Wellington filmmaker and entrepreneur Rollo Wenlock.

A Wellington filmmaker has attracted $600,000 in start-up funding for his cloud-based video sharing software which is already being used by people in 35 countries.

Rollo Wenlock founded WIP Videos in November last year after spending two decades working in post-production and directing music videos for the likes of The Prodigy.

Tired of trying to collaborate with clients and getting bogged down in long email conversations, he came up with a simple solution.

Wenlock said he was sitting at home looking out the window one day when he had a sudden "flash" of an idea to enable feedback on top of the video.

WIP allows editors to share their work privately with clients, who can then watch the video and give feedback by clicking on the screen and writing in comments.

"It's just a rendered version of an edit and you put it up in the cloud on WIP and invite people to look at it privately", he said.

"People can see it in their browser and as soon as they start watching anything they want to comment on they click on that part of the picture and add their comments."

The team of three at WIP Video were selected earlier this year to be part a three-month boot camp accelerator programme named the Lightning Lab, which culminated in a "demo day" at Te Papa in May.

Alongside eight other start-up firms, Wenlock pitched WIP to 150 investors and ended up attracting $600,000 in seed capital.

That money was being used to develop the software further and work out price models and target markets, Wenlock said.

The Wellington business now has 28 investors - whose names Wenlock did not wish to disclose - and advisors including the likes of Rod Drury, Sam Morgan, Park Road Post, and Weta Digital.

Although the software is still in beta form, it is already being used by 750 people from 35 different countries, including some "big" post-production companies in Los Angeles.

Most users are currently accessing the service for free while WIP tinkers with the end product.

People who want to upload a video fewer than 10 minutes in length can currently do so for free but the final payment model will probably be a pay-monthly service.

Paid subscribers so far include Kiwi accounting software company Xero, which has been using WIP to produce internal videos for the past three months, Wenlock said.

"We're seeing a really interesting range of people jumping on the software," he said.

"These post production companies in LA are basically saying they'll stop using other software when ours is fully available."

Wenlock said he was planning to hold another investment round in about 12 months aimed at raising between $2 million and $5 million.

That money would be used to fund a massive marketing push, he said.

"This sort of stuff does not sell itself. You have to get a huge sales team to sweep America and get thousands of customers."

He said he was open to the idea of being bought out if the right offer came along.

Wenlock said there were similar products in the market but they tended to be more complicated than WIP and overloaded with features which confused the user.

"The majority of our competitors almost ask the clients to be editors. We believe less is more. Video making is pretty hard and the key difference with our software is the person watching the video can't change anything," he said.

WIP Video is based in the Biz Dojo on Vivian St, Wellington.

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