Rocketr science: How to make a winning

It wasn’t rocket science, but a simple message combined with a professionally polished one-minute video collaborated on by employees and friends that won ITBusiness.ca’s ‘The $1,000 Minute’ YouTube contest.

After collecting contest entries for one month, ITBusiness.ca saw 26 Canadian technology startup firms submit an entry to the contest that demanded a one-minute long video giving their best elevator pitch. Startups ranged in variety of product from interactive first aid instructional videos to enterprise-grade knowledge management applications. Rocketr, a social note-taking app for iPhone, was the unanimous favourite of editorial staff at ITBusiness.ca and its editorial advisory board member, Mark Ruddock.

Shot on a digital SLR camera in a Toronto bistro, at a park bench, and inside a car, the video features cartoonish animations that illustrate how people use the app, and a friendly narration from CEO and co-founder Andrew Peek. Rocketr managed to produce the video on a shoe string budget by calling in a little help from their friends.

“We’re all pretty connected and I suspect we all probably know someone that has some skills in photography or video,” Peek says.

Rocketr’s winning entry for The $1,000 Minute.

For Peek, that was his friends Sam Rosati, the producer of the video, and Chris Gruggen, the director. Pete Strauss, the editor and animator, was brought on board by Gruggen. Aside from paying for some lighting equipment, Rocketr was able to tap the “sweat equity” of its employees and friends to get the video done, Peek says. The team was able to get excited about working on a fun project together, and form there it was all about focus on one simple message.

“Keep it really simple, try to distill one single message repeatedly,” Peek advises. For Rocketr, “we felt a collaborative note taking environment would keep ideas alive for a long period of time.”

Rocketr’s video was noted by ITBusiness.ca’s editorial team for its fun tone and effective use of all 60 seconds. “My eyes were glued to the screen,” says Nestor Arellano, senior writer for ITBusiness.ca.

Its professional polish also won praise from Christine Wong, staff writer at ITBusiness.ca. “This obviously wasn’t produced on your Mom’s camcorder and edited in the basement rec room one day,” she says. “This could be run as a TV or Web ad any time.”

This wasn’t the first video the Rocktr team has made to market itself. To meet the requirements for Vancouver-based Grow Conference, they’d put together a less polished two-minute video. The video served a purpose, and was a helpful experience when Peek decided to make a higher-end package.

“We were all there as actors and scriptwriters,” Peek says. “We created the concept for the video.”

Peek watched some of the other entries to the contest, and saw a lot of CEOs pitching to the camera. His advice to them is that it’s always better to show than to tell.

And keep it simple – creating a video isn’t rocket science, after all.

Brian JacksonBrian Jackson is the Associate Editor at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and check out the ITBusiness Facebook Page.

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