Youtube.com, 48 hours of uploads every minute and three billion views daily, according to Youtube.com’s official blog in May of 2011. With consumption of online video up “400% with the release of the Iphone 3G back in 2009” (MacRumors, Eric Slivka) and the numbers ever growing, it would be tough to testify that we aren’t as a globe, obsessed with online video. With producing at our finger tips, we can film our lives to post for the word to see. Again in 2009, sales of all pocket camcorders were just over $2 billion world-wide, growing 21% in unit sales to 13.6 million in 2010 from the prior year, according to research firm IDC (taken from the Wall Street journal’s coverage on the GoPro camera). But enough with the numbers, point being, we all do it.
But we aren’t all film editors, Final Cut Pro wizards, or have the student-like time to sort all of our footage from the helmet cam last mountain bike trip, ski trip, or ski dive. We want content, content, content; we want speed, and we want to see it now. Highlight Hunter founder, Noah Spitzer-Williams, realized just that. With a love for kitesurfing, action videos, and startups, Spitzer-Williams felt it was just his problem to solve.
In fact, some of the best brands we have taken for granted to solve our everyday annoyances started as just that, a founder wanting to solve their personal daily annoyance. International women’s wear designer for all occasions, Donna Karen started by designing a line just for her and her friends to make dressing simpler. Callaway golf founder and creater of the Big Bertha, Ely Callaway, genuinely just wanted better clubs for his retirement golf life. IKEA’s, Ingvar Kamprad, loved to make and sell furniture but he wanted product that he and his best friends could afford. This idea of making a product for ourselves and our closest friends seems to be an entrepreneurial right of passage. After all, our best friends usually are our first customer.
For Spitzer-Williams, his venture started exactly how most of today’s startups begin; in a bar talking over brews about their day in the water kitesurfing:
Spitzer-Williams: When are we going to see a highlight reel from all this footage?We’ve barely
watched any of it ourselves and we haven’t shared a single clip with our friends.
Bar buddy: Noah, we have 100+ hours of footage and it would take us weeks to find the good parts.
Spitzer-Williams: So remind me why we even use this camera if it just creates tedious boring work for us?
After chatting over a concept for a way to solve the delema, Spitzer-Williams set out to see if others were having the same problem with editing footage that needed to be solves. Turns out they did. Giving Spitzer-Williams the green light for setting about finding a solution, which became Highlight Hunter.
“I’ve been a tech geek and sports nut my whole life so it’s a dream to be working on something like Highlight Hunter,” comments Spitzer-Williams when we delve into his background. “Tech-wise, I started coding as young as I can remember. (To Jenna — I’ve got a really old baby pic of me sitting at a computer if you want it for the post…yes, I’m a geek). After graduating from Tufts University with degrees in Computer Science and Entrepreneurial Leadership, I moved out to Seattle to work as a Program Manager for Microsoft.” Quitting his steady job at Microsoft last year to work on Highlight Hunter (his solution to this widespread editing problem of sorting through monotonous footage), says that Entrepreneurial Leadership degree might have made a big impact.
But what is Highlight Hunter, and more importantly, how is Spitzer-Williams solving this problem? According to Highlight Hunter’s website, “The free Highlight Hunter app for Mac and PC saves you hours of video editing time by finding your highlights for you. Ride all day. Record all day. Don’t miss a thing and stop wasting time sifting the awesome from the everything.” To do this just, “use one hand. Or both. Or a shoe. Every time you cover the camera lens, Highlight Hunter marks the previous 30 seconds (or however long you want) as a highlight.” basically, the app helps you mark and cut footage with a swipe of your hand. It is an automated version of new Hollywood’s sync clap (a person in front of the camera will clap in front of their face before and after each scene to mark where cuts will go as the editor sorts through footage). “Load your videos into the app and it will create a 30 second highlight clip for each bookmarked moment,” reads the apps instructions.
“Camera companies have figured out how to record your adventures. The social networks have figured out how to share them. But up until now, no one has figured out how to quickly find the highlights that are actually worth sharing,” explains Spitzer-Williams. “Highlight Hunter is simple, memorable, and puts control in your hands,” he goes on to follow. With a start in actions sports niche but large market, Spitzer-Williams feels that sports highlights across sport’s many markets are the beginning places for the app’s use. Highlighting break through moments, your kids best-of’s, first goals, to first steps; Noah sees a wide range of applications down the road, but so far the early adopters are fellow adrenaline junkies. As the app builds traction and collects users videos, Spitzer-Williams is ecstatic about the different use cases that his users will come up with next. Spitzer-Williams throws out the number that 44 million of US kids play organized sports, so it seems logical for him to start here and wait for the rest to come organically. Which leaves me thinking that leaving highlights up to users, is a very free territory if you later include Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson, and Kim Kardashian; but we don’t need to go there.