As founder of video sharing site Mydeo, Cary Marsh is determined that her digital baby will find commercial success

curriculum vitae

  • Name
    Cary Marsh
  • Title
    CEO and founder,
  • Age
  • Education
    1994: BEng (Hons) Manufacturing Engineering, University of Nottingham
  • Career
    1998-2000: Recruitment consultant, Michael Page International
    2000-01: Business development manager, Servecast
    2001-03: Head of online communications, Clipstream (VTR Group)

Cary Marsh isn’t a typical digital entrepreneur. She’s not a coder, she doesn’t have an MBA and she’s never worked for a consultancy. Mydeo, the video-sharing service she launched in March 2005, is one of a rare breed: a home-grown Web 2.0 business that owes its success to timing and some government funding.

It’s also set to become more successful, partly because of its partnerships with Microsoft and the US Best Buy electronics chain, and partly because of the online video boom.

“There’s still resistance among people to putting video onto their computers, yet it has become completely acceptable with their photos,” says Marsh.

This month the company, which was established as a B2C proposition, is launching its B2B offering. “We’re calling it M3: the Mydeo Media Manager,” Marsh says. “It’s aimed at small businesses, enterprises and agencies. The biggest pain that it addresses is when businesses have rich content that they want to put on their site, but which can be damaging to their site experience. We’ll be keeping it simple, all video formats will be supported and the interface will be easy to use.”

According to Marsh, the impetus for the B2B offering came from people using the existing consumer service for commercial purposes. Mydeo provides streaming for over 150,000 people, communities and businesses.

“For lots of our members, what they do isn’t a business, it’s a hobby,” she says. “They want to put video on their sites to sell things, but they don’t want to use YouTube because they think it’ll make them look silly.”

In fact, Marsh’s original plan was to rewrite the code behind the service in Microsoft’s .Net and relaunch in September with both consumer and business offerings. But there was so much demand for the business version that its launch was brought forward. The revised consumer version will be available in September.

Marsh’s background is in video streaming; her first job in new media was working in business development for Servecast in 1999. When she moved to Clipstream she was brokering networks and this gave her a good understanding of pricing. These two experiences meant she was in a good position when she had her eureka moment.

“I’d just had a son and I asked a friend if he could stream some video of him for me,” she recalls. “I realised that it was really cheap to do and that I couldn’t be the only person who wanted to share video with family and friends. So I decided to start a business.”

Marsh got in touch with incubator Kingston Innovation Centre via Business Link for help with her new venture. “I did a deal with the commercial arm that gave me a management team while they received some equity in the company, providing I got a grant from the DTI. The deal was that they wouldn’t get any equity if I didn’t get the grant. I was one of a handful of women who got a grant under that scheme.”

The target audience for Mydeo’s consumer offering are people aged around 30, and Marsh says there are more users in the 50-60-year-old bracket than there are aged between 15 and 20. The content they post is mainly family-related, what Marsh describes as “very emotional stuff”.

It was the nature of the content that led Marsh to her first big partnership. “While I was applying for the DTI grant, I was also looking for the person in Microsoft who was dealing with the ‘Send to web’ side of Movie Maker. If you were in the US and wanted to put your video online, Neptune Media Share appeared, but in Europe there was no one.”

Marsh tracked down the right person and in September 2005 signed the deal to be Microsoft’s first and only Windows Movie Maker European hosting partner. The result was an overnight step-change in her business that saw registrations jump from five to 100 a day.

“Then I spent the whole of the next year getting it wrong,” she laughs. “There was no free trial, it was all subscriptions. Wrong, wrong, wrong.” At the same time she was trying to close a round of angel funding. In retrospect, she believes the fact that she didn’t was the best thing that could have happened. “It fell through because of their concerns about YouTube,” she explains. “But if it hadn’t we’d have spent £650,000 doing the wrong things.”

Having decided early on that the way to recruit users to the service was through partners, Marsh and her team chose the top 20 companies they’d like to work with. At the top were US consumer technology retailers. Mydeo had been getting support from Microsoft’s Emerging Business team, so Marsh called on their contacts list for an address at Best Buy.

“I sent them an idea for bundling Mydeo with camcorder sales,” she says. “Then their corporate development team got in touch to discuss an equity deal. They were looking for investments in startups aligned with their consumer strategy. They had Best Buy photo sharing through Kodak, and they wanted a best-of-breed video sharing provider.”

The deal finally closed last October, leaving Marsh to refine Mydeo’s customer proposition and develop its business offering.

“YouTube has done two positive things for us,” she says. “It has raised people’s expectations that there will be video on a site, and it has lowered their expectations of that video’s quality. But the best thing is that the people using YouTube now will grow up into the people who use Mydeo in the future.”


Published 19 June, 2008 by NMA Staff

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