Dan Cumberland on being genereous, getting noticed, and creating short-form videos in a snap
By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur.
In the new episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, Dan Cumberland talked about how he’s creating Videosnap, a very useful tool for anyone who's creating content and wants to make it into short-form shareable pieces. He also shared his journey as an entrepreneur, how he’s getting his business off the ground, and how he’s getting Videosnap noticed so that people around the world can repurpose their content more easily.
Image from LinkedIn
Creating Short-Form Videos in a Snap
Videosnap is a tool for repurposing long-form, speech-based content. Think of a talk, a podcast interview, or a webinar — content like this can be transformed into a short-form, viral-ready video.
One of the core features is that it allows you to create short clips of gold and aha moments. In the video, a person will be talking; whatever the theme is, the words spoken will be on the screen in front of the person. Then, it will clip into another footage that brings that topic to life.
It makes a really fun and engaging short-form video that's ready to go on TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and all the places where the algorithms can get it in front of more viewers. The platform came from his own — it’s a scratch-your-own-itch product.
Image from Unsplash
Dan has a podcast, and he always struggled with discoverability. Discoverability is challenging because there aren't great search engines for podcasts. You have to get your show to where people can find it and where people hang out — and that’s on social.
He started by asking himself: How do I go about getting this long-form piece of content into social? He knows that if he just put the podcast into social, no one will click on it and engage with it. The key is getting it in the format that works for social algorithms, and it's really about that engagement. It's about creating something that's fun to watch — something that lets people get that dopamine rush, something that algorithms favour to get audiences hooked.
If you try to play into that, it can get people to know who you are and what your show is about, and help you build that relationship with them.
How to Use Videosnap?
Videosnap is an alternative to the audiogram approach. In Dan’s opinion, it makes a more engaging piece than just audio. Audiograms are great, but if you want something that has more life to it and would do better on something like TikTok, you can have short-form videos.
To use Videosnap, the process starts with uploading your long-form piece. The platform then transcribes the whole piece. Next, you can go through the text, find that section, and highlight it. It should be short (e.g., a paragraph). On YouTube Shorts, the videos have a one-minute maximum. But often, the pieces that do best are 10 to 15 seconds long.
After you hit a button, it extracts that text, breaks it into these moments, and then puts that B-roll behind it with the text on the screen in front of it.
Image from Unsplash
Previously, Dan and his team would use Descript and other tools to edit his show. He had a content person, and she would go through the content, finding those best moments. Then, she would go back and forth with their editors to find the piece, extract it, and edit it. It's just so many moving parts involving so many people and tools.
What he did was streamline that whole process. Now, his content person can do the whole process herself.
On Relationships and Partnerships
Though he’s a photographer by background, Dan is on his third venture in technology. How is he getting noticed in what is actually a different role from his core skill set? For him, it all comes down to relationships and partnerships and choosing one thing to focus on.
Videosnap came about through a relationship with a friend who owned a development agency called 923.co. They're more than just a development shop. They partner with people to deliver that product strategy, helping them find the opportunity in the market and build something that captures it.
He met Andrew Aman, one of the partners there, via a Facebook group for entrepreneurs they were both in. He posted an introduction, and Dan commented and said he’d love to jump on a call and chat. Then, they got on a call. It was just a great call where they talked a lot about sales and marketing, which ended up being a monthly call. They would have a reoccurring event and jump on a call and talk about their businesses.
Over time, as the idea for Videosnap emerged and Dan started thinking it could be something, he went to Andrew and his team and asked them if they would be interested in forming a partnership to build something like that. And it was the right thing at the right time for them to say yes.
In Dan’s life as a non-technical, three-time software founder, his ventures have always come through partnerships with developers or development shops that see the value he brings to the table through a preexisting relationship.
The Meaning Movement
Dan also has a main business, “The Meaning Movement.” Initially, it's been about purpose and meaning in people's lives. It has repositioned and has now been focusing on entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs start businesses to find freedom, make more money, and have less stress — yet end up with none of those things in a prison of their own making. And there's no way back. They’ve already burned bridges.
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Dan helps entrepreneurs build a life they love along the journey and enjoy that journey. In so doing, he’s been releasing a podcast where he’s doing interviews and creating content there.
There are many ways wherein people can find and see him, and he thinks the content he’s producing helps build a lot of trust — whether that be on the podcast, on LinkedIn, or other places where he’s creating content.
One of his core competencies is relationships, caring for people, and being kind and generous. In the marketplace, that translates to building trust, marketing, having the ability to see opportunity, and finding the right people to bring together a team to chase after that opportunity.
Getting Videosnap Noticed
Videosnap is off the starting grid. And as it proves, the hardest part of entrepreneurship is getting it noticed and getting those early beta users.
When they did a formal launch of Videosnap — i.e., posting about it on social — many people commented, and it generated hundreds of engagements. Of all those, it resulted in three trial signups. However, the conversion from that group of people into users was very low.
When you make things, you can’t just announce them and tell others to come and find them. That’s not how it works. You have to go find the users.
Though they were just recently launched and made public, they’ve been selling Videosnap via joint venture webinars with businesses in his and his partners’ networks in the last six months. Now, they have about 50 paying users.
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He and his business partners have been looking for those they know who have users or an audience that fits the demographic interested in repurposing content. They could be content creators, digital media or advertising agencies, or entities with a parallel service where they could offer content repurposing as a service to their clients.
Then, they built a webinar that presents their idea and lets others see the opportunity that Dan and company see around putting content into a format that will do well in short-form video.
The whole presentation is about how all social media is moving towards short-form videos. Dan is seeing this movement wherein video is going to be where people are spending more time with. In fact, YouTube is already one of the biggest search engines on the Internet.
Getting your content where people are searching — where eyeballs are and where they are already spending time — is the tool, the way, and the path towards building your following or your podcast. And if you're an agency, there's a ton of opportunity to offer that to other people trying to build their brand, podcast, or whatever that might be.
Also, one of the things they did with the first group of webinar audience was to get them onto an annual plan of Videosnap. That was the only plan that they sold on those webinars for them to get a little more revenue — and get those people aboard the journey that Dan and his team are taking on.
On top of that software subscription, Dan did three days of training about repurposing — how to approach a long-form piece of content and think about the pieces that will do best as you repurpose them. He also talked about how an agency can approach clients if they will sell repurposing as a service.
It’s really all about creating this whole package and creating more of an offer. It’s not just simply saying, “Okay, here's an opportunity; here's the software.” You have to offer something that’s compelling — something that not just solves that problem that the software solves but gives you the tools you need to implement it either in your own business or as a service for others.
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Entrepreneurs often take for granted how complicated a piece of software and a free trial can be.
Even when you have a free trial funnel, it’s not that simple. When someone joins, how does that work? What does that user experience? Do they have to put a credit card down? What happens after that trial ends? What are the tools that you’ll be using to help someone make that transition from not paying to actually paying?
There are a lot of variables. You can't just ask someone to jump on your free trial and assume it will work. The free trials of software that are successful have been tested and often have a lot of venture funding behind them, so they work out all those kinks.
With all this in mind, one of the things that Dan and his team do is implement a different way to get people involved since they don’t have the tools, the time, and the knowledge to solve all of that yet. It’s why they do the training. It’s why they created a package that would hold people's hands along the way.
Doing that is also a growth opportunity for Videosnap to make a core of evangelists.
How do they bring those people along? How do they connect more with them? How do they make them feel like they're a part of something and not just have customers who bought the software and use it now and then?
On Properly Knowing and Communicating with Your Audience:
To help overcome the communication obstacles with people on their website and having user difficulties, Videosnap uses HubSpot speech bubble. And Dan is there paying attention when things come through. They also have another team member who's responding.
Image from Freepik.
They’re trying to find out what questions people are asking so that they can improve either the website messaging or the software itself.
Dan has a very robust roadmap. He thinks of it as his wishlist of everything he wants to change. The software is great as it is, and it will be much better a year from now. But they’re not going to build those things that won’t be helpful to their users. When it comes to developing software, take the iterative approach where you make something, you find out how people are using it, and you identify what their obstacles are.
He considers that speech bubble a tool to keep that conversation open.
When people are saying, “How do I do this?,” “Does your tool do that?,” “How can I go about doing all these?,” they take these questions as data they can use to think about how they can make it easier and better for their users.
An Incremental Approach to Software Development
For Videosnap’s communications, Dan and his team mostly do it from the inside out. They’re not doing much about media relations. He guested on The UnNoticed Entrepreneurs podcast because podcasting is part of Dan’s media world.
What they’re doing at Videosnap is also very much self-funded. They haven't taken any venture funding or friends' and family's money (though that's something on the table).
However, they do want to move fast and capture some market. How do they go about doing that? Thus far, it has been just himself and the team trying to spread the word. He’s getting on podcasts to share his experience and journey, hopefully bringing as much value as possible to listeners. He also does it to raise awareness for people and benefit from the process at the same time.
From a communications perspective, they’re taking an incremental approach to software development. From the community and user's perspective, they’re helping people to get across the “using new tools” challenge. And that’s really what Dan tries to do in life: to add value and help people as generously as possible.
The Secret to Getting Noticed
To get noticed, it comes back to being generous and helpful and putting that into the context of your customers, peers, potential collaborators, and all other people you’re interacting with in your life.
Image from Freepik
Dan believes that all the good things he’s been able to accomplish as an entrepreneur have come through other people — whether it’s partnership or collaboration in some way. And that only comes about by being generous and kind.
It’s not just about selling and promoting your thing. Nobody wants that.
When people are engaging on your website or with you at a party or an event, they're not looking to hear about you. They want to hear about themselves, how you can help them, and how you can add value to their lives. If they land on your website and they’d only hear about you, you're missing the point there. The same is true with your software and your presence in their lives.
To learn more about Videosnap, visit www.videosnap.io. To connect with him and listen to “The Meaning Movement” podcast, visit www.themeaningmovement.com.
This article is based on a transcript from my podcast The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, you can listen here.
Cover image by NordWood Themes on Unsplash