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Michael Litt is the CEO of Vidyard

Modern companies can end up sitting on a lot of video. Some of it is advertising, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds, or even thousands of hours of training materials, product demonstrations, customer testimonials, and marketing collateral can pile up. And what's a brand-conscious corporation to do with it – dump it all on YouTube?

The founders of Vidyard, a young Waterloo firm, ran up against this question, and their solution has netted them some big-name clients: In-house video hosting that can tell their clients, not just who's watched their videos, but how they watched them.

Chief executive officer Michael Litt and his co-founder, Devon Galloway, were University of Waterloo students who ran a business producing videos for tech companies. Once they'd finished making the videos, they often found that their clients would ask how to put that content online.

Video sharing services like these are less than ideal, since users can fall down the 'YouTube hole,' surrounded by decidedly off-brand material. "Next thing you know, 10 hours have past and you're watching pictures of dogs riding skateboards," says Mr. Litt.

So the pair built an in-house video hosting service for their content, so companies could put a clean, white-label player on their sites. In turn, once they were hosting clients' videos themselves, they found themselves able to give those clients very precise analytics about the way those videos were being viewed.

"We started getting interested in how people were watching our videos, because we wanted to sell more content," says Mr. Litt.

In time, the pair realized that customers valued analytics even more than the videos they were producing. Ultimately, they dropped video production, threw themselves into hosting, and – building the product in their final year at Waterloo – Vidyard was born.

Today the company manages tens of thousands of videos for clients like SalesForce and OpenText. The services offer a dashboard for companies looking to manage large video libraries. It can manage videos on-site or hosted elsewhere. One of its investors co-founded YouTube, and close ties with the Google-owned service give Vidyard special access to its analytics API.

Vidyard can also provide rare insight into the way videos are received. For instance, by tracking the way users click on the play-bars underneath videos, it's possible to tell where users are getting bored and skipping ahead, and which parts they're rewinding and watching again, which could indicate either adoration or puzzlement. Every viewing becomes a miniature focus-group.

What's more, integration with customer-relations products lets Vidyard offer highly-targeted video delivery. For instance, if a user has signed into a website with their e-mail address, Vidyard can track whether they've watched a given video or not, and allow a partner to send e-mails only to users who have not yet seen it.

After growing through the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator in Silicon Valley and moving back to Waterloo, the company employs 26 people and recently completed a Series A funding round worth $7-million. Most clients manage upwards of 1,000 videos each on Vidyard; their biggest client stores 22,000 of them.

It adds up to a simple pitch from the company's young co-founder: "You can use it to create your own private YouTube."

Special to The Globe and Mail

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