5Min: Popular ‘How-To’ Video Site’s Expansion Plans

By Alexandra Man January 16, 2011 Comments

If you had tried to find a “how-to” video on the internet five years ago, chances are you would have not found what you were looking for. Three Israeli friends had come across the same problem which led them to found “5Min Media”- a syndication platform for broadband instructional, knowledge and lifestyle video service that has recently been acquired by AOL.

It all started in mid 2006, when Hanan Laschover, Tal Simantov and Ran Harnevo realized that there isn’t a proper video platform for how-to videos. Ran had asked his mom, an enthusiastic amateur entrepreneur, to search the web for a video that shows how to bake an apple pie. Having found nothing, they realized there was a gap in the online video market.

They call it the button-sewing paradox. Try to explain to someone, with a list of instructions or over the phone, how to sew on a button and you’ll find it simply impossible. Many actions of our daily lives that are difficult to explain do not work well when written in text. However, they do work in video. 5min launched their site in April 2007 and within 2 years it had released over 200,000 videos viewed by 6 million people.

Laschover , 5Min’s Chief Technical Officer and co-founder, now talks about turning their destination site to a bigger, wider platform: “Video Seed is our own unique technology- it analyzes texts within a web page and knows how to match a video from our site to the written text”. That exact algorithm made their service a highly successful and efficient tool.

Laschover plans on using their technology to offer a wider range of services. “We are about to add a business-to-business self service option that will enable the advertisers and content providers to more easily interact with us. Moreover, we are merging our [AOL and 5Min’s –A.M] entire video collection and creating a more varied streamlined video database”.

In September 2010, the company was purchased by the American internet giant AOL for 65 Million Dollars. “Prior to the acquisition we reached 150 million views- our service is different than other video platform. The deal was a strategic one, AOL bought not only our content but the video seed technology as well. All of AOL’s video content has been assigned to us, this is a very big step for all of us, the challenges are bigger but we try to keep the work environment similar to the way it was before the deal” says Laschover.

The three masterminds behind the start-up were long time friends. Harnevo served as a pilot in the Israeli Air Force and later worked as a journalist. Simantov, who came up with the idea, came from the advertising world and Laschover was a computer programmer. They combined their professional backgrounds and became the company’s CEO, CMO and CTO. Harnevo has recently been assigned the position of senior vice president of AOL video.

Although 5Min has a branch in NYC and most of their audience is American, they don’t plan on moving the whole company abroad. Their Research & Development and Content departments are based in Tel Aviv. “We have great minds here in Israel, I would even call it a Zionist act to keep the core of 5Min here. These are people that know their jobs, people we trust- they are our most precious asset. It is important that large scale brands such as AOL will have development centers in Israel” says Hanan.

A large number of Israeli start-uppers have great ideas but they don’t linger for a long time. The Hi Tech industry in Israel thrives because of the Israel’s drive for success. “We tried to distinguish our product from the market in any possible way- we added a slow motion option, frame by frame viewing- everything we thought would benefit our viewers. We always try to be attentive to the market and know how and when to react to changing needs, even though it may be hard sometimes”.

Story by Alexandra Man
Photo and Video courtesy of 5Min

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