FlixMaster co-founder and CEO Erika Trautman wants the videos we watch online today to be the GIFs of tomorrow. Today FlixMaster announced a free version of its interactive video production platform plus a recent deal with USA Network.
A TechStars 2011 company, FlixMaster got off to a rough start. The company’s demo day fell on the same day as the debt-ceiling crisis, and Trautman says investors kept walking out of presentations to take urgent phone calls. FlixMaster still managed to secure $800,000 in seed funding and built a team of seven in Boulder, Col. to develop its platform that simplifies creating interactive videos.
“We want to do for video what WordPress did for blogging. You shouldn’t need to be a coding genius to produce an interactive video,” says Trautman.
Transforming video into an interactive experience often involves chopping up clips to make it non-linear and adding social layers that invite viewers to participate in the story. Existing options include unsophisticated YouTube tools or expensive custom code, and not much in between, which Trautman discovered while trying to make interactive videos at the production company she owned. She then convinced her more tech-savvy husband Cameron McCaddon, who previously worked in casual and online gaming, to start FlixMaster.
Remember the NSFW video A Hunter ______ A Bear, an interactive ad where the viewer decides what happens between a frightened hunter and a bear? Trautman says it required hundreds of hours of code to produce this type of video, but that now anyone with basic computer skills can do it. FlixMaster’s platform, built in HTML5 to integrate with tablets, has a drag-and-drop interface pre-loaded with a bunch of simple features such as embed buttons, links to outside URLs, and social sharing.
FlixMaster is betting people will play with its free version, and entertainment and marketing folks like USA Network will pay for more customization. USA Network used the platform to create a five episode web series for its show “Covert Affairs.” It’s a “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style narrative where fans help guide one of the characters after being blinded. Watch it here.