Don’t tell Bryant McBride that you can’t build a great consumer web startup in Boston. “We think that’s BS,” he told me when I mentioned the skeptics. McBride is a partner at Route 2 Digital, a holding company that invests in startups at the intersection of sports and media. He’s also CEO of a young startup here in Boston called Burst, that has quietly built a sleek app it believes can capture the mobile video market.
Burst emerged from stealth this morning with the announcement that it had raised $3.45 million from a group of angel investors, including Tom DiBenedetto, part owner of the Red Sox and owner of A.S. Roma, an Italian soccer team; Fay Vincent, former MLB commissioner; and Jesse Itzler, co-founder of Marquis Jets, a private jets company.
The app — available via Google Play and the Apple Store — is sleek, and built around two premises: 1) People don’t want to share all their photos and videos with everyone under the sun; 2) A mobile video app needs to be dead simple.
I got an early look at Burst and it is admirably simple. You can take photos, shoot videos and share multiple items simultaneously with anyone through email. So even if grandma isn’t a Burst user, you can send her a video of the grandkids with just a click. Oh, and everything is uploaded automatically to the cloud, so no file management necessary.
As for the Burst’s vision of narrowcasting, “It’s not about spamming your friends,” McBride told me, “it’s about precision and select sharing.”
For now, Burst is laser focused on families, particularly photos and videos taken at kids’ sporting events which can easily be shared privately with the rest of the family.
“We want to get on everyone’s refrigerator,” said McBride. He also told me he’s been encouraged by the amount of interest the company has already received from other sectors, including law enforcement and real estate, who have in mind their own use cases for privately shareable mobile video. To that end, an API is under development to capitalize on a variety of user needs.
(While Burst has no plans in healthcare to my knowledge, having just written a piece on the future of telemedicine, I can’t help but mention that mobile video has potential value in that sector.)
You can imagine a variety of routes to monetization, though McBride declined to speak to Burst’s strategy in that area. There are subscription services, ads, or some sort of freemium combination. And businesses with an interest in using video to document deliveries, or crime scenes or whatever else could prove a steady source of revenue.
Some of Burst’s use cases overlap with other apps, including Boston-based Vsnap, which allows users to record video and send them alongside other documents via email. McBride, for his part, believes the space isn’t all that crowded once you account for the size of the opportunity.
“We’re right at the beginning of mobile video,” he told me. With a team of 10, and a hefty seed round in tow, perhaps we can safely say it’s the end of the beginning.