Detroit Web video startup ramping up

Posted on December 19, 2012

A Detroit startup company wants to help users easily navigate the Internet to find the highest-quality videos organized around what’s going on in their hometowns or other big metropolitan markets.

Glocal has been running on $1 million in funding from Compuware Ventures as founder and CEO Lincoln Cavalieri aims to get the site’s business model in high gear early next year by signing up advertisers, broadening the services his company offers and obtaining more capital.

“Right now, we’re focusing on our users and listening to their feedback and altering their platform,” said the 26-year-old Cavalieri, a Commerce Township native who began working on the Glocal idea in 2010 as he finished his degree at Syracuse University.

So far, Compuware Ventures is pleased with its investment.

“They’re doing well, making lots of progress,” said Paul Czarnik, president of the startup investment arm of the Detroit-based technology giant.

“There are lots of eyeballs on (Glocal’s) website, and we’re working closely with them on their business model. In fact, we’re doing a financial review with them next week to see where we can go from here.”

“Glocal” is short for “glocalization,” a coined combination of “global” and “localization” that essentially means adapting a product or service specifically for each locality where it’s sold. Glocal is collecting video from about 2,000 sources and organizing it on the site into content hubs built around 68 cities.

Among the links Thursday on the Detroit site of Glocal, there was video of General Motors Co.’s introduction in Pontiac of its new Chevrolet Silverado pickup; a cable-access clip of a meeting of the Oakland County commissioners; and visual auto industry stories from Autoline.

National sources include the Associated Press, CNN, ESPN and even the San Diego Zoo.

For viewers, Glocal is emphasizing the quality of its videos.

“On YouTube, you might see a great story from CNN that they spent a lot of time and money producing, but right next to it there will be a poor-quality video of some kid singing that was taken on an iPhone,” Cavalieri said.

Now, Glocal is pivoting toward making money on the site, largely around small businesses in a given metro area that will want to have their goods and services seen in the video environment provided by the site. Glocal expects to begin soliciting and running advertisements within six to 12 months, he said.

“Glocal will assign each small business to a local market they represent,” he explained. “Right now if you sign up on Facebook, you’re one of just millions of small businesses there. On Glocal, you’ll be able to become one of just a few thousand within, for instance, Metro Detroit.”

Cavalieri also expects Glocal to provide a technology platform to help small businesses that want to produce their own high-quality videos for advertising and other communications purposes, and do so relatively inexpensively.

Along with Glocal’s chief operating officer, Aaron Hodari, a 26-year-old Bloomfield Hills native, fellow Country Day alumnus and a University of Michigan graduate, Cavalieri already has experienced what he called “growing pains” as Glocal ramps up.

After early experiences “being spammed” by video-content providers, Glocal learned to ensure that it properly vets video and that “the content experience on the site is best-in-class,” Cavalieri said.

“On Glocal, all the related videos you’ll see are quality videos. We’re selecting the content providers. Not just anybody can upload videos.”

At some point, Cavalieri plans to broaden the locally oriented content available on Glocal to include text and photos. It would represent a twist on his original business model but, he said, “user feedback told us that we need to expand our multimedia reach.”

Succeeding with a widened focus “will be a challenge” for Glocal, Czarnik said, in part because “there are so many portals that are trying to aggregate content so they’ll be everything to everybody. You have to focus on one area. And since (Glocal has) solved the technological problems in video, they’re going to want to make sure they focus on one type of (content) delivery.”

Czarnik also said Glocal “is taking a little bit longer than we’d like to see” to prepare to raise its next round of capital.

But Czarnik stressed that he is not alarmed by Glocal’s pace and that Compuware Ventures agrees with the startup’s strategy. Glocal, he said, “is moving in the right direction.”

Dale Buss, The Detroit News.