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OpenReel raises $19M to simplify remote video production

OpenReel, a startup that makes it easier for teams to record videos remotely, has raised $19 million in Series A funding.

CEO Lee Firestone told me that he and CTO Joe Mathew first started a video agency together, but when they were given “a pretty significant project” that involved remote production, they weren’t satisfied with any of the existing solutions and ended up “spending over a year to build this technology.”

Of course, there are plenty of teams that have figured out their own approach to remote video production, particularly in the past year. (Here at TechCrunch, it’s mostly involved shipping cameras and lights to writers, followed by lots of tech troubleshooting conversations.)

But OpenReel’s “remote camera” technology is supposed to make the process much simpler, while also giving production members more control. The software allows a remote team member to control a webcam or mobile device, with up to four people viewing and directing the shoot in real time, with additional features like a teleprompter. The footage (which can be 4K quality) is stored locally, then automatically uploaded after the shoot.

“If you talk to our clients … they would have had to put together multiple different pieces of technology, shipping or not shipping things, and even with all that, they would not have gotten the quality and seamless experience for both sides,” Firestone said.

Not surprisingly, demand grew dramatically in 2020, with Firestone recalling that the platform went from supporting “thousands of video shoots a year” to “10 or 20 times that.”

In fact, the company said that annual recurring revenue has increased 12x over the past year as clients like Dell, HubSpot, ViacomCBS and TechCrunch’s parent company Verizon Media have used it to record things like marketing videos, internal communications, customer testimonials and more. It has more than 200 enterprise clients, as well as “hundreds” of small and medium business customers.

“There’s been a pent up demand for content in these organization that our technology sort of unlocks,” Firestone said. And he doesn’t anticipate that changing as in-person filming becomes safer post-pandemic.

The Series A comes from Five Elms Capital, bringing OpenReel’s total funding — debt and equity — to $23.9 million. Firestone said the money will allow the company to develop new product features (one possibility: support for livestreamed videos, rather than just pre-recorded footage), as well as continued global growth, after an international push last year that saw the platform launching across 125 countries.

“Five Elms loves investing in businesses that challenge the old way of doing things, and OpenReel does just that,” said Five Elms’ Thomas Kershisnik in a statement. “OpenReel has proven itself as an important component of the remote technology stack as well as a vital tool in the broader content creation toolbox empowering enterprises to enhance their content and create more of it.”