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How Ptch makes its pitch for video social networking

The company wants to create a place for people to share user-generated videos created through its app, hopefully setting itself from a crowded field.


If you look at Ptch's pedigree, you have to take the start-up seriously.

Ptch CEO Ed Leonard was the former chief technology officer of Dreamworks, known for films such as "Shrek" and "Kung Fu Panda," but left to run the start-up, which last week launched an iPhone app that allows users to easily and quickly create minute-long montage videos out of their existing photos and video clips.

The premise sounds familiar, right? In a previous column, I profiled a company with a similar mobile service called Animoto. Vyclone and Viddy offer similar remix video and photo services. Autodesk just spent $60 million buying Socialcam, which also does video sharing.

Ptch aims to be different because Leonard sees his service as second to the company's goal of becoming its own social network, where individuals follow each other, like their videos, and interact to create new videos.

"We really see this as a platform for living media," Leonard told me in an interview.

Still, with such a crowded field the company will face many challenges in winning converts. Leonard, however, felt so strongly about the company that he opted to leave the big studio behind, he told me in an interview.

"I felt so strongly about the company I decided to leave Dreamworks," he said. "I was excited to jump in with both feet."

Ptch came about as a result of Dreamworks' desire to improve its mobile presence. The company was incubated out of Dreamworks for the past nine months before going public last week.

I tried out Ptch, and like many of the other video services, the interface is easy to learn and fairly slick. By logging in through Facebook, you can automatically pull videos and photos from the site, as well as from your iPhone. You can mix and match, choose music, as well as a "style" that customizes how the photos are presented.

You can also take other people's videos, and mix and match components, add another song or style to create something completely different.

From there, you can choose to email it, post it on several social networks, or just share it within the Ptch network. You can also toggle between keeping the video private and letting others see it. I had some issues with the privacy controls, but Leonard said it would make things clearer in an update.

The videos can sometimes seem short, but Ptch kept it that way on purpose. Leonard said he is focusing on the "snackable media market."

Unlike Animoto, which offers a monthly subscription for a premium service, Ptch is free to use and offers no premium tier. For the next few months, the service will be totally free as it looks to build an audience. Down the line, the app will introduce new "styles" and songs that people can buy to further customize their videos. Leonard hopes to build a marketplace in which entrepreneurs can build their own styles and charge for them (Ptch would take a cut, similar to how Apple shares revenue with developers).

While the competition makes for a tough start for Ptch, he hopes to grow by word of mouth. He noted that each Ptch video is a commercial for Ptch itself.

"As people make compelling ptches, people will be drawn to it," Leonard said.