RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – In this the latest of a series of stories profiling presenting companies at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s annual Tech Venture conference, Alan Fitzpatrick, co-founder and CEO of mailVU talks about how the company’s technology makes it easy for businesses to record and distribute targeted and branded video messages.

What is your “elevator pitch” you will use at the CED Tech Venture Conference?

mailVU is a cloud-based service for sending and receiving video messages. Our Web and mobile apps make it easy for businesses to record and distribute targeted and branded video messages to their audiences. mailVU’s service has been used in more than 200 countries and territories around the globe, and we were named as one of the Top 101 Most Useful Websites on the Internet for 2010 and 2011.

What is the “secret sauce” of your firm that sets you apart? What sets your startup apart?

Two things set mailVU apart: Our focus on making complex video technology simple to use, and aseasoned management team that knows how to execute. Our customers tell us it is the ease of use, and simplicity in using mailVU’s service that drove their purchasing decision. mailVU’s subscription service makes it easy for businesses to launch a targeted and branded video campaign to prospects in a short time. Our video recorder makes it easy to capture incoming video testimonials from any website or Facebook page. The company’s customers do not have to download anything, they don’t have to create an account, and they don’t have to share their social networks to record or play videos. We are telecom and Internet industry veterans that know how to execute. We’ve held executive positions in public and private companies, managed large teams and budgets, and implemented video technology on a worldwide basis. We have seen the frustration users encounter with multiple video codecs, running on multiple devices and operating systems, while struggling through a variety of bandwidth connection speeds. After years of solving these problems, and seeing where the market is going with video on mobile devices, we decided to build a market leading video platform to offer easy-to-use, inexpensive video services to businesses.

Do you have a motto/slogan that you feel captures the energy/mission of your firm? If so, please share with us and explain why you feel it is appropriate.

Our motto is “Keep it simple.” Technology that is complex to the user simply isn’t implemented.

The focus on simplicity permeates (in) everything we do, starting with our website’s user interface and apps. Go to or download one of our mobile apps for iPhone or Android and you will immediately be able to record and send a video message. The user doesn’t need to go through multiple layers of the site or even sign up for an account – they can try it immediately with no hassles.

For Business accounts we’ve made the sign-up process as frictionless as possible. There is a minimum of information required to get an account, and we don’t ask to connect to your social sites and annoy all your friends. You own your video content and control the branding, privacy, and distribution. mailVU makes it easy for any small business owner to quickly implement video marketing.

Who are your “heroes” in business? How are you trying to emulate them?

Some of our heroes are Jason Fried and the team at 37signals. The philosophy of keeping things lean and simple resonates in everything we do at mailVU. We like Jason’s vision about the role of iterative design and why businesses should bootstrap. In North Carolina we also find Joe Colopy and the Bronto team to be inspiring with their accomplishments in growing organically, and we have great admiration for Yap and iContact for their successful events over the past year. In Charlotte, we are inspired by what Dan Roselli and Sara Garcés have accomplished, not only with Red F Marketing but also with Packard Place and their civic leadership in growing entrepreneurship in the city.

What triggered your initial thoughts about launching a company? How has that original thinking/goal changed or evolved since your launch?

We saw a need in the market for a business oriented, recorded video messaging service. Skype is great for live video calling, and YouTube is great for video hosting. Skype, however, only works if the other person is online and has the app downloaded. YouTube channels are great, but advertising, “recommended” videos that could belong to competitors, onerous T&Cs, lack of privacy, and requiring anyone uploading video to have a YouTube account are all distracting if not outright limitations. There is no dominant service provider meeting the business need for quick and easy recording and distributing branded video messages. With the move to smartphones and tablets, users often have to be reached on the go. We saw this as an opportunity to become the global leader in business video messaging, delivering branded content directly to the recipient on any device.

Why did you choose to launch a company in what has been a difficult economic environment since 2008?

When we saw the market need and knew that we could fulfill it, the macro-economic environment was not a major factor. Many large companies, including FedEx and Microsoft, were launched during recessions. If we can grow a business in a tough economic environment, just imagine what we can do when the economy is booming!

What is the business “need” you are seeking to address? What problem do you solve, and for whom?

Businesses simply want to increase sales. To do this they must get their marketing message and call to action heard and viewed by their audiences. Video provides great user retention and recall – up to five times greater than text. mailVU’s 60-percent-plus click-through rates make our service better than just about any other platform in getting a business message viewed. mailVU allows businesses to reach targeted prospects on their mobile devices with branded video messages, and we provide them with a private account to control distribution. By using our service, they know who watches their video, when, and how often. Their video messages are delivered with their branding, directly to their recipients with no distracting advertising or secondary video recommendations.

What products are you offering/planning to offer? Please describe each briefly.

We offer outbound and inbound video messaging service throughout the world. Sales people send branded video messages to prospects and are notified when the prospect views the video. Businesses send confidential training videos to their customers without worrying about competitors viewing them. Hospitals and clinics follow up with patients on a personal level with private video messages. Websites easily capture video testimonials from anyone on the web. Organizations may ask applicants to submit a video pitch right from their website. We continue to see new uses for inbound video recording, including contests, video resume/introductions, and video pitches to investors. mailVU makes this an easy process from any website or Facebook page. Applicants can even record and submit videos through their smartphones and tablets using our apps.

Why do you believe investors should be interested in your firm?

Video is the fastest growing form of traffic on the Internet, predicted to be more than 50 percent of all Internet traffic by 2016. mailVU’s service is widely used, businesses are willing to pay for it, and we provide the service at a profit. mailVU is led by a management team that knows how to execute, and are focused on two things – our customers and our service. This focus has generated steadily increasing revenues and allowed the company to grow while bootstrapped. We know the value of every hard won dollar, and know how to stretch our spending more than just about any other company. Aside from a financial investment, investors may be interested in our video recorder for their websites so they can collect and view one-minute video elevator pitches from start-ups. It’s a more efficient first step than reading through a business plan.

How much funding are you seeking, if any, and how would the funding be used?

We are not currently seeking investor funding, however we are seeking as much customer funding as we can possibly get. We are always looking for partnerships and people who can help us grow at a faster rate.

How much funding have you raised to date? How much funding in grants (please specify)? Who are your investors?

mailVU won the NC IDEA Grant in Fall 2011 and the Charlotte Venture Challenge Grand Prize and People’s Choice Awards in 2011. Other than the grant awards and the founders’ initial investment in 2010, the company’s growth has been funded by cash flow from steadily increasing customer revenue.

Are you hiring at the present time, and if so how many positions are you looking to fill?

Addy Kapur and I founded the company in 2010, adding Kamilla Gary Wyatt to the team that fall. We’ve since grown from three to seven people. As customer revenue continues to grow we will incrementally add staff. Currently there are no unfilled positions.