Docstoc, the online library of small-business documents, is giving its users a new kind of content: high-quality, beautifully produced videos that will give small and medium-sized businesses an MBA-level schooling in how to build and grow their companies.
In an exclusive interview with VentureBeat, cofounder Jason Nazar told us that for this new library of courses, Docstoc tapped experts in topics ranging from account to software to marketing as course instructors, and then the company brought a kind of magic unique to Los Angeles tech startups: production.
“Folks in the Bay are better at building technoogy products, as a whole,” he said. “But in L.A., there’s a focus on the quality of content that there isn’t in the Bay.
“The video, the copywriting — there’s an expectation of standards. What we’re trying to do is differentiate our content that’s better than anything else you’ll find out there on the web in terms of the instructor, the content, the production, and the technology platform.”
With video editors on staff who have previously worked on major motion pictures, Nazar said, “The way that they look from a directorial perspective is different from anyone else in the country. We can produce something that’s network-quality. … We’ve built out a really beautiful studio in Santa Monica, and we have the ability to work with instructors remotely.
Last year, the L.A.-based startup started testing video content, producing 1,200 individual videos featuring hundreds of topic experts. The videos were released free of charge on YouTube, and Nazar said the response from Docstoc users was overwhelmingly positive.
Video was also a big part of a 30-app iOS package Docstoc release free of charge back in May.
Nazar said content covers the three main concerns he encounters from the SMB owners he talks to: how to get more customers, how to raise capital, and how to efficiently manage a growing business, whether that business is a solo freelancer or a 100-employee company with $1 million in annual revenue.
Here’s a sneak peek at the new sections of the site:
“Our goal is to identify the most valuable content that will help people, and keep building breadth around that,” said Nazar.
And as for the instructors themselves, the longtime entrepreneur has tapped one of his best resources. “Quite honestly, it’s my own personal connections,” he told us.
“We’ve been around for a while, so people know me. We’ve hosted events in SoCal that have brought in over 15,000 people. For the last three years, I’ve been reaching out, and a lot of those folks are going to be working with us around courses.”
Of course, tons of online video resources are out there for learning about these topics: options range from accredited universities with online course modules to competing websites that also dish out clips and courses. When it comes to competition, Nazar said, “I don’t think there’s any secret sauce we have; we just have high standards. When someone teaches a course, they have to have had real success in that area themselves.”
For example, Jeremy “ShoeMoney” Schoemaker, a widely known affiliate marketing expert and blogger, is teaching the Docstoc affiliate marketing course. The person teaching the site’s AdWords course was the media buyer for LegalZoom. While Nazar said instructors aren’t always household names, he said they will always bring certifiable experience to the table.
“All our courses are taught by people who’ve had the kind of success you want to have yourself,” Nazar said, “people who have sold multiple companies for millions of dollars.
“My overall thesis is, explain the concept, then get really specific. Give an action plan, and give as many analogies as possible that people can identify with. Do everything you can to pass on your knowledge to someone else. When you get to something really dry like Quickbooks, it’s harder to make it interesting, but that’s our educational philosophy.”
Aside from the quality of instruction and the quality of production, Nazar said a lot of thought and effort was put into the site’s user experience and the technology platform itself. He also points out that these courses come packaged with a slew of documents, articles, forms, and other collateral an SMB owner would need to take action on what she learned from the videos.
Docstoc currently has around 20 courses available to its paying customers (access to premium content costs $20 per month) and plans to add 25 more courses to the library by the end of the year.
Top image courtesy of lightpoet, Shutterstock