TurnHere raises first round as business for short-form video increases

turnhere.JPGIt’s been a couple years since we last wrote about TurnHere, which has given the video site time to find a business model and raise $7.5 million from Venrock and the Hearst Corporation.

A former real estate entrepreneur and journalist, Brad Inman started Turnhere with the intention of creating video snapshots of neighborhoods. The ‘snapshot’ has remained, but now applies to much more, including book publishing, travel and leisure, and advertising.

To shoot its videos, TurnHere employs independent producers around the world. Shoots are done at low cost over the span of a single day, and when finished usually last between one and two minutes. A typical example would be a yellow page service paying a few hundred dollars for an introductory video about a laundromat or burger joint, which could then be attached to its online listing for the business.

In publishing, TurnHere’s producers shoot short profiles of authors, while hotels abroad sometimes ask for location-based shoots. Across all its verticals, TurnHere is currently receiving between four and five hundred orders each month. (For some recent examples of its work, go to bookvideos.tv.)

TurnHere originally intended to create its own portals, but found that the demand lay with outside content aggregators. That’s streamlined the business down to providing clients with a cheap, set format based on a platform the producers use — in Inman’s words, the company “automates a lot of the gnarly, difficult parts of content creation.”

He’s optimistic about demand, saying that the market has come to him in “a pretty aggressive way.” Across the millions of sites on the internet, says Inman, “people are slowly but surely looking at their content and realizing they need video.”

That’s also creating a new class of video makers who can exist comfortably outside of studios, fueled by a steady stream of small work from startups like TurnHere and Spot Runner, which makes ads for small businesses. The more skilled producers are invited to bigger projects within the company, or may find themselves receiving offers from outside the site.

The $7.5 million funding will be used to help build out a video editing and distribution platform for the site, and to continue ramping up business. It was the company’s first funding, outside a seed investment by William Hearst.