Q&A: David Geller of EyeJot on video mail, startups and competing with giants

David Geller, CEO of EyeJot. (Erynn Rose photo)

Our guest on the latest GeekWire radio show and podcast was David Geller, CEO of EyeJot.  EyeJot is a Seattle startup that is working to make recording and sending videos easy and reliable. The company was founded back in 2007 by Geller and Daryn Nakhuda (former CTO of TeachStreet, which was acquired by Amazon this past February).

Geller, a Seattle startup veteran, also offers thoughts on the current talent crunch, how startups can have a fighting chance against the industry giants, and ways the industry has changed since he first started out.

If you missed the show, or just prefer text, here are highlights from his conversation with GeekWire’s Todd Bishop and John Cook:

For people who may not be familiar with it, what is EyeJot?

Geller: EyeJot is really the intersection of mail and video.  It’s a way to record video and then send it, kind of like email.  So unlike Skype or iChat and other tools like those, the person you’re sending it to doesn’t have to be online to get your video.  It’s perfect for business applications bridging time zones, or really anything where you really just want to record it and send it.  We have a lot of consumers using for family related things, like birthdays or special events, and we have a lot of businesses using it to differentiate the way they message and communicate with their customers.  In the past they would use regular email, now they can send a small piece of vide0 and really express themselves.  This can be used via desktop or mobile.

I imagine these messages have to be pretty short though, around thirty seconds?

Geller: We can actually go up to fifteen minutes with some of the types of accounts we offer. We personally may not have used up to that limit, but we do have independent professionals paying to use the service so they can brand the experience.

Is the main advantage to using EyeJot versus just taking a video and emailing it, the dependability?

Geller: That’s one of them.  When you shoot a video on your device it’s often very limited, in fact I think iOS limits it to something like 59 seconds.  The disadvantage of that is that you’re likely sending it as an attachment to email and then it’s going out.  With EyeJot you’re actually uploading it to our servers and then a notification message is being delivered to the recipient.  When they click on it then they’re progressively downloading the video, like they were watching a YouTube video.

So, you guys just came out with a newer version of the app.  Can you tell us more about that?

Geller: We just came out with what we call EyeJot vCard, and we think it’s an alternative to traditional printed business cards.  In essence, instead of having just a general purpose video, you get to record a video that represents yourself or your business and it’ll be carried with all your contact information.  I often forget my printed business cards or I run out or there are title changes, so now wherever my mobile phone is (which is always with me) I have an unlimited number of contact vCards I can give out.  It can send to their mobile device via text message, or email.

GeekWire airs on 97.3 KIRO-FM in Seattle at 7 a.m. every Saturday, and 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Sunday. The show runs every weekend on GeekWire.com. You can get every episode using this RSS feed, or by subscribing in iTunes or Zune.

Tune in this weekend when we’ll be talking with guest Matt Harding of WhereTheHellisMatt fame.

You’ve spent most of your career doing startups (WhatCounts, Starwave, and EyeJot).  What has changed in your view in the startup community here in Seattle compared to when you were starting out?

Geller: It’s certainly easier to start companies.  It’s nice to see such a healthy ecosystem of small 1-5 person companies developing.  Seattle’s holding its own among Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston.  The biggest thing is that you don’t need vast amounts of capital.  Everything is moving to the cloud now, certainly in the software space, so it’s super simple to startup a company.

Are you finding it challenging to compete for talent in the community here when you have Amazon and Microsoft and all the Silicon Valley giants coming into town?

Geller: I think startups offer a unique benefit compared to the other companies because often the work environment is radically different.  The big companies are always striving to make it cool and fun and progressive, but it’s usually very straightforward with startups to do that.

Geller also talked about a variety of other topics, including his experience with Apple’s new Mac OS X Mountain Lion update. Listen to the full version of the show via this MP3 file or in the audio player below. The conversation with Geller starts around 12:30.

GeekWire airs on 97.3 KIRO-FM in Seattle at 7 a.m. every Saturday, and 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Sunday. The show runs every weekend on GeekWire.com. You can get every episode using this RSS feed, or by subscribing in iTunes or Zune. Also access the podcast archive on GeekWire.

  • http://www.heinzmarketing.com Matt Heinz

    Geller is wicked smart, and always passionate about what he’s working on. I’m excited to see him getting great traction with EyeJot.

  • Dave

    I believe Eyejot must be out of business, I recently upgraded my subscription and had a contact upload issue. After 14 attempts to contact them including 4 eyejot video emails and a message left on David Gellars voice mail I have not received any reply. Its a shame I thought I was going to like the service a lot.