From left to right, the co-founders of Minute: Erez Eliad, Amit Golan, Maoz Melamed, Nick Laniado and their dog July. From left to right, the co-founders of Minute: Erez Eliad, Amit Golan, Maoz Melamed, Nick Laniado and their dog July. From left to right, the co-founders of Minute: Erez Eliad, Amit Golan, Maoz Melamed, Nick Laniado and their dog July. (Photo: Courtesy Minute)

Tech team creates CliffsNotes for online videos

The Minute app identifies the videos' highlights to shorten into user-friendly trailers.

The idea behind Minute, like all great ideas, is really quite simple.

People like to watch videos online. But most don’t have the time or the inclination to watch a bunch of five-minute videos a day.

So Minute takes those videos, runs them through a program with some kind of a magic algorithm or something and extracts the highlights. Just the best parts.

Think of it like a machine that churns out seconds-long movie trailers, or a CliffsNotes for videos.

“We’re lazy people. We want to get directly to the point, to the punchline of the video,” says Amit Golan, the 29-year-old CEO and co-founder of the Israel-based startup.

Golan and his staff ran tests and looked at statistics before they jumped headlong into the business and found that 93 percent of people, when given a choice between two videos on the same subject, go for the shorter one. From there, Minute took its first steps.

The guts behind the company is that ever-changing, almost magical algorithm that instantly scans video and identifies both the images and the sounds that would most appeal to users. It seems, at first glance, almost eerily accurate.

“It’s not accurate,” Golan says, and by that he means it’s not just accurate. “It’s amazing.”

But … how? How can a software program, even backed by a complex algorithm that is constantly being fed new data and being tweaked and improved, actually pluck the good, throw out the mediocre and compile a seconds-long video that makes sense?

Golan explains it this way: “From 10,000 feet,” he says, laying out a macro view, “it’s computer vision containing image processing and audio processing and stuff like this. Also, we’re using a lot of crowdsourced information, metadata and information that we get from user behavior. That’s basically it.”

In a Twitter and Snapchat world, where standing still means getting run over, Minute lies squarely in a sweet spot. Its technology appeals to a time-crunched, yet virtually insatiable appetite for online videos.

Minute started out by pitching the product to consumers – it’s available now for Android devices and coming soon Apple. But Golan and his co-founders knew that they really had something when some of the biggest news sites in Europe and the U.S. started showing interest.

“We went to a couple publishers, we told them this is what we are doing, we showed them the product. And they were like, ‘Say no more,’” Golan told From the Grapevine. “They understood what we were doing, and they were saying, ‘Let us know how much time you need, and we’re in.’

“At that moment, we thought, ‘This is the right product.’ We got the market validation.”

Studies have shown that an overwhelming majority of people prefer to watch shorter videos on their phone.Studies have shown that an overwhelming majority of people prefer to watch shorter videos on their phone. (Photo: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

Golan is one of four co-founders for the company. He’s known Erez Eliad, who acts as the chief marketing officer, all his life. They got together with Maoz Melamed, the chief technology officer, through Facebook. Designer Nick Laniado joined and provided the first office space – in his house. That was back in 2013.

The company moved to a suite in the Google offices in Tel Aviv, where Golan is a mentor, for nine months. They’ve since moved to a bigger spot in Tel Aviv, to accommodate a staff of 16 – all of them under 40 – and four office dogs. In a few months, they plan to launch their business-side program in full.

It hasn’t always been easy for Minute. But Golan says it’s all been worth it.

“It’s just a roller coaster. Like in any other startup, you have good times and bad times. Hard times that we had to stick together,” Golan says. “I think the most important thing that works for us and works best at the moment, is that we believe that we’re doing a good thing together.”

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