On the Wings of Dovie, Portland's Affordable New Video Platform

Take a look at the fresh, goggled face that just flew into the cloud. Dovie is a new online video platform where small businesses and nonprofits can launch TV shows, channels or networks from their desktop computers. Based in Portland, OR the site launched in Beta last week after a trial run with a handful of clients including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

President and COO J.R. Storment had been working in Web development for 12 years when he noticed that some of his small business clients wanted to put videos on their websites, but couldn’t find a service package in their price range. “YouTube and Vimeo are excellent solutions for places that don’t have to worry about the rights management,” Storment said, but his clients needed protection from piracy and more options for advertising.

Backed by a private investor, Storment teamed with CTO Michael Millard, design director Alex Bilmes and communications director Paul West to “help empower small, independent content creators of all levels to join this revolution that’s happening with online video,” he said. It took the partners a while to settle on the name Dovie, an anagram for video. “We were trying to come up with something really clever,” Storment said, but in the end, it was a teammate’s mother who said, “‘hey, what about Dovie?’”

Like the name, the service was designed to be simple and user-friendly. With an uploading process that’s similar to YouTube’s, the videos can be organized into customizable HTML/CSS-based playlists and are automatically encoded to Flash and adaptive bitrate formats, which adjust the quality of the video stream for varying bandwidths and can be viewed on mobile devices as well as computers. Advertising tools include hyperlinks, overlays, analytics, revenue sharing, ad targeting and white labeling, which allows the video producers to rebrand their content for multiple advertisers. Starting at $29 and up to $499 per month, the packages are all-inclusive and are priced according to bandwidth and number of videos. “We tried to take a really egalitarian approach to our pricing,” said Storment.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a non-profit theater company, used the site to embed a playlist of previews and behind-the-scenes videos to promote its stage productions, like the preview for “Hamlet” that includes a nod to OSF’s sponsors and a pop-up with a link for tickets. “They’ve really adopted it and it’s gotten a great response,” Storment said. With feedback from OSF and other Beta testers, Storment plans to add new features as well as vertical content networks for sharing revenue between similar video channels.

Is there enough of a startup scene to build a client base in Portland? “The word from people in New York and San Francisco is that that people up in Seattle and Portland are too lifestyle-focused to build startups,” Storment said. “My response to that was, how can you not be lifestyle focused? You want to have a good life, don’t you? It’s definitely an emerging scene, but I think it’s going to be a great one because there are tons of great people in this area.” Portland is home to Wieden + Kennedy, a large advertising agency, and LAIKA, the animation studio behind the movie “Coraline” that’s owned by Nike co-founder Philip H. Knight. (Nike is also headquartered near Portland.) Despite the talent pool, Storment said “there aren’t a whole lot of startups that have crossed the threshold into greatness. We’re hoping to be a company that can help put Portland more on the map of the startup world.”

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