founder

CLIPr Founder Humphrey Chen Discusses Efficient Video Consumption

Introduction

Many people prefer video content to be quick and engaging. Therefore, it is important to cut longer videos — like a two-hour-long conference recording — into something shorter. Short-form videos are powerful, especially when topics are customized to match a viewer’s needs and interests.

CLIPr transcribes and indexes video content to make videos searchable, customizable, and digestible. Its platform uses machine learning and user-sourced feedback to generate a table of contents consisting of topics, subtopics, and moments where important points are made. We reached out to co-founder and CEO Humphrey Chen to hear more about the company’s goals and how the team got together.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Inez Sanjaya

In your own words, how would you describe CLIPr?

Humphrey Chen

When CLIPr sees recorded video, we see a lot of trapped potential, and it’s our job to fully unleash it by making your video searchable, skim-able, and more actionable. With the average human attention span being shorter than that of a goldfish, none of us enjoy being at the mercy of the video play button. CLIPr has transformed how we engage with everyday video. 

What distinguishes everyday video from the kind you watch on Netflix? Everyday video is work- or learning-related, and every minute is not created equally — nor is every minute equally relevant to everyone — so we use machine learning to index every second of the video. We make it searchable, and we generate an automated table of contents composed of topics and sub-topics. So if just 5% of a video matters to you, we want you to find it as efficiently as possible. And if there is another 5% that you didn’t know you need to know, then we want to provide you with the tools to find the other 5%. So if you get 10% utility, we view that as “mission accomplished,” since it’s 10% more than the average of zero, and it also means that you didn’t have to painfully wade through the other 90% of the video.

Inez Sanjaya

What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?

Humphrey Chen

Back in May 2020, my co-founder Cindy Chin shared with me her personal need to work down her video backlog of missed events, earning calls, Zoom meetings, and webinars. As the former head of Amazon’s computer vision key initiatives, I had been focused on helping developers to see and hear at scale. At that moment, I saw the opportunity to help everyone to see and hear more efficiently at scale, and the idea for creating CLIPr was born.

Inez Sanjaya

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

Humphrey Chen

I then reached out to my other co-founder, Aaron Sloman (CLIPr CTO), to see if he could help me to build a minimum viable product. Aaron and I used to work together at Microsoft about two decades ago, and he said this idea is so good, maybe we should do this full-time? He then asked me to put together the business requirements, so the night before Memorial Day 2020, I pulled an all-nighter and put together what Aaron needed to make an initial estimate. He told me how much it would cost to build. 

I then reached out to my Harvard Business School (HBS) section mate Elliott Ng (CLIPr investor and board of advisors member), who happens to be a partner at Google’s Area 120 Startup Incubator, and I shared with him what I was planning. Elliott candidly shared that he was fiduciarily conflicted since it’s his job to persuade me to join his Google Incubator. However, as my friend, that’s probably not the best recommendation, but he could do the next best thing: he could ask the Google ethics and compliance team for permission to invest in CLIPr, and he could recommend me to potential investors. I was more than pleased with Elliott’s recommendation. 

I then went to my HBS Professor Marco Iansiti (CLIPr investor and board of advisor’s member). Within minutes of hearing and understanding the potential of the idea, Professor Iansiti committed to the first major investor check, and we hadn’t even incorporated yet! 

I had stayed in touch with Christine (Chris) Eckhaus (CLIPr chief of staff and people officer), the original Amazon Web Services executive recruiter who had hired 75% of Amazon’s machine learning leadership, including me. We knew back then that having the right people at CLIPr could make or break CLIPr. Chris had a wide range of business value spanning startups and large companies, and she eventually joined CLIPr full-time. 

In 2007, I acquired and successfully integrated Durk Stelter’s (CLIPr chief revenue officer) startup, while I was the director of product management at Avaya. By the time CLIPr finally had a mature enough product at the beginning of Q4 2021, it was finally time to bring in a seasoned revenue-generating leader.

Inez Sanjaya

How is CLIPr transforming the video analytics industry?

Humphrey Chen

CLIPr collects analytics for individuals and companies to understand behavioral usage, compliance, leads, storage requirements, and even meeting effectiveness. What people watch, skim, skip, bookmark, react and share all implicitly suggest what one feels about parts of a video. 

We’ve built CLIPr the Amazon way. We like everything to be better, faster, and cheaper. We’ve literally transformed how people can engage with their video to find the moments that matter. We’ve built our video analysis and management platform for enterprises (information workers and publishers) and platform owners, and we charge what it costs us to enrich video, so there is no incentive to recreate what we’ve built. Get your video enriched at the lowest cost possible and the least amount of effort by leveraging CLIPr’s apps, integrations with Google Drive, Zoom, Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft Teams CLIPr Moment Maker, API, and widgets.

Inez Sanjaya

What does your product pipeline look like in the next few years?

Humphrey Chen

CLIPr will be better for self service, more seamless, more global, and have more platform support, including adding support for automated integration with 5,000 or more apps. We’ll be adding native support for Slack, Cisco Webex, and Salesforce. We already have support for 31 languages and an instance in the EU that is compliant to the General Data Protection Regulation, and we’ve completed our Service Organization Control 2 type 1 audit. We obsess over our needle-moving customer requirements.

Inez Sanjaya

Who are your target customers and why?

Humphrey Chen

We’re targeting: (1) digital publishers who have tens or hundreds of thousands of hours of A- and B-roll video and audio that need to be made more skim-able and bingeable to generate more impressions and revenue to strengthen their community, And (2) enterprises who have tens of thousands of hours of video in a hybrid, remote-first, and remote-only environment, where the existing video needs to be more useful to combat video fatigue.

Inez Sanjaya

What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?

Humphrey Chen

Today, when videos are recorded zero moments are surfaced. Through CLIPr, we initially identify 50% of the relevant moments in the form of our automated table of contents, which include topics and sub-topics. CLIPr’s crowd-sourced collaboration tools allow the content owners to identify the types of moments that they value the most. Maybe it’s an “aha” moment, a “buying” moment, a “nailed it”, “engineering onboarding” moment, “top 10 sales” moment, “study this” moment, etc. Once patterns are identified and the business value quantified, CLIPr can begin automating the identification of these moments at scale.

Services like Rewatch, Otter.ai, and Fireflies principally offer audio transcription services. CLIPr includes audio understanding and supplements it with visual understanding for less than it costs for just audio transcription. CLIPr likes to be better, faster, and cheaper than anything else available and to allow for calculated decision-making. CLIPr is also focused on providing the tools necessary for existing line of business platforms to fully embed CLIPr’s video analysis and management platform so that companies can augment their existing video and audio workflow instead of being forced to revamp it. 

Inez Sanjaya

How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

Humphrey Chen

We’ll use 70% to support the development of fully repeatable sales and marketing motions, 20% for research and development, and 10% for general and administrative expenses to get to $1 million in annual recurring revenue and then $2 million in annual recurring revenue in preparation for our Series A.

Inez Sanjaya

What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?

Humphrey Chen

CLIPr is the solution that you never knew you needed until you realized that what we do is even possible. Our freemium program lets companies of all sizes use up to four hours for free every month starting with all-hands meetings. After that, our introductory pricing is just $4 per employee per month or $48 per employee per year with an annual commitment.

Inez Sanjaya

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

Humphrey Chen

The fundamentals of our business and the markets will determine whether an initial public offering (IPO) or a merger and acquisition is most appropriate.

When we conceived of CLIPr, we always realized that each of the major platforms — Microsoft, Zoom, Cisco Webex and Google — would at some point reach a build-or-buy moment. Given this, it’s been a race ever since for us to achieve the first scalar cross-platform advantage. Being cross platform is key, since attendees of remote meetings and published events can’t choose what platform the host has decided to use. 

For our Series B, we have created the video content utility index to help with measuring the incremental utility that enterprises are able to achieve before and after adopting CLIPr.

CLIPr’s vision of being the leading moments detection platform means that we need to be agnostic of where the video originated from. We’d love to eventually have an IPO and be responsible for charting the path for video and audio 3.0.

We look forward to seeing where Humphrey and his team take the company. CLIPr is currently raising on SeedInvest.

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About: Inez Sanjaya

Inez's background is in the startup ecosystem, which she is very passionate about. Inez has experience working in a startup, a Google-backed accelerator, and lastly in Plug and Play Tech Center. Prior to this, she was a part of VU Venture Partners doing deal sourcing and conducting due diligence. Inez graduated from the University of California Berkeley with an Economics degree.

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