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Got2Know aims video at wrong target

Start-up might want to direct wholesome intent toward kids, not cynics.

Got2Know, a start-up that was looking for funding at the Red Herring East technology conference, is hoping to be the YouTube of how-to videos for youth ages 13 to 30.

"There is not any inappropriate material. This is something a university could put their logo on and say they're affiliated with and not have to worry," Lisa Feeley, the company's chief executive officer, said in an interview.


It's a clean-cut site because the company features content made only by sponsors or produced by Got2Know for sponsors. Got that? It's an all-sponsorship business model. So while it's already operating cash-neutral with all private money, the content by its nature is limited.

The company has gotten Clark Atlanta University in Georgia and Suffolk University in Boston on board, according to Feeley. But would you rather watch a video about a college made by the college, or a video about a college made by a student who attends the college?

It's a trust issue. Sponsored content is burdened with the need to prove that the information presented is not solely self-serving. On YouTube, it's a mix of self-serving individuals who want attention, sponsors promoting an agenda, pirated content and informative people journalist Malcolm Gladwell would call "mavens."

But you get to see all kinds of video options when you search on YouTube, even on what might literally be white-bread topics.

It's how I came across a little gem of a video from an Irish housewife on how to make Irish soda bread in a skillet. My soda bread, I believe, is now the better for it. And that's why I went to YouTube instead of a site by, say, Bisquick or Pilsbury.

Had Got2Know, however, aimed for children under 14, its idea would be superb. No one site has yet emerged as the YouTube for kids, and certainly there's a need.

No one wants to expose their 7-year-old to purposeless, inappropriate content. Parents and teachers would feel much more comfortable steering children toward a family-friendly video site. And younger children might prefer fewer choices than an overwhelming sea of video results when they type the word "elephant" or "red car" in a search bar.

But teens, college kids and young adults are unlikely to take advice from a YouTube-esque site that features only sponsored, censored-for-cleanliness content.

As in search, when it comes to video, the team with the widest net wins. Most users old enough to be cynical would rather have all possible choices before them and control over how those results are limited through filters, rather than through a third party that predetermines or limits results.

And while I realize Got2Know released in beta only last week, the content, because it's dependent on sponsorship, is still very limited.

Got2Know, think about being the YouTube for kids.