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Small Business Spotlight: Animoto Allows Users To Create 'Super-Simple' Custom Videos

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Jason Hsiao has used his background in television production with MTV and Comedy Central to develop patented technology, in which customers – especially small businesses – can drag and drop their video clips and photos to create a professional video tailored to their message.

Hsiao's describes his company, Animoto, as a user-friendly tool that eliminates the need for complex editing and other expertise.

"It's a super-simple tool; a drag-and-drop tool that allows folks to create beautiful, professional-looking videos. So it's all online, and while we have a number of different types of people using Animoto, where we are seeing a lot of momentum and where we're most excited about is small businesses using video -- primarily on social media," Hsiao told WCBS 880's Joe Connolly. "What we're really kind of seeing and hearing is that it's just becoming increasingly important and critical for businesses to find ways to use video to communicate their message online."

Hsiao said Animoto enables customers to do just that – and provides them with ideas for how best to do so. Animoto provides customers with storyboards that amount to "pre-built video templates."

"We have constructed these storyboards that suit different needs of businesses, so if they don't know the type of video they want to create, they can just open a storyboard and literally just kind of drag and drop and replace some of the content, tweak some of the messages, add their logo, hit a button, and have a video all ready to go. It's as simple as that," Hsiao said.

Animoto can match music to fit the theme of a video – whether it is for a wedding, a holiday celebration, a promotion for a business, or another use by a small business.

Hsiao explained that in creating a video, customers are best able to hook people by making their most interesting video, photo or tagline at the beginning rather than at the end. He said video creators are most successful when they demonstrate right off the bat "how delicious that cheesecake is, or how amazing that renovation is, or how, you know, beautiful your bakery goods – your cupcake or your wedding cake is. And then you kind of go back and show how you made it."

And even businesses that don't deal in visual products – such as law or accounting practices – can find a way to create a successful video with Animoto's product, Hsiao said.

"What we usually encourage – especially companies where it might not be obvious what the visual might be – we ask them to think about, well, what already works in your marketing, right? Or in the way that you sell yourself?" he said.

Amazon has invested in Animoto, and Hsiao said it all started with Animoto having a need for Amazon's products and services. He said the company started out with one computer, and rather than buying several more to accommodate its needs, he and his staff decided to use Amazon's cloud computing – which at the time was just taking off.

It turned out that Animoto was exactly the kind of business that Amazon wanted to invest in and promote, Hsiao said, to demonstrate that "as a small business, it doesn't make sense for any small business to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in computer equipment. Let us do that. You worry about your business."

Animoto works on a subscription basis, with a monthly and annual plan and a free trial available. Hsaio said the reason to offer subscriptions rather than charting per-use is that businesses need to update their video presence constantly.

"What we try convey is that video is not this onetime marketing item on your marketing checklist of to-do items. Video is something that you need to regularly be doing," he said.

Crain's New York named Animoto one of New York City's best places to work in 2017.

To see more Small Business Spotlight segments, click here.

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