From the offices of their 1930’s railcar, Portland-based Cascade Web Development recently hosted a launch party for their newest product: a video broadcast software that’s creating innovative solutions for companies looking to expand their reach and communication.
The product is called Brandlive and the software streams live video featuring a real-time chat option that can create an interactive conversation. Last week’s launch came on the heels of a $50,000 working capital loan from the Portland Development Commission to help Cascade spin off the new venture.
The folks at Sokol Blosser winery are using the video tool to complete virtual wine tasting sessions where experts bring the tasting room to anyone with an Internet connection. Viewers can participate in live conversations on topics such as vineyard management, wine growing techniques and wine tasting.
The idea is to simulate the experience one might have at a retail store, meeting or presentation without the necessary drive or flight normally required to have all parties in one place. Clients click on a private URL link and are transported from wherever they are to the conversation.
Video is the next hot feature for websites, and big companies such as Gatorade and Burberry are attracting media attention for the innovative methods they use to engage customers and market their products via live web video. Video platforms and software are popping up all over and competition is fierce with free products such as Skype. Founder and CEO Ben Mckinley thinks Brandlive will stand out because of its simplicity.
“The big difference is that [Brandlive] is brandable for the client and it's not just promoting another provider of media services, the client has a video chat screen surrounded by their name with their logo,” said McKinley. “We have an interactive component that’s not just pushing information and content but having a conversation that does more than screen sharing or a power point presentation.”
Brandlive actually drops the “brand” and replaces it with the name of the customer on the clients website. For instance, on the Sokol Blosser website, the video option reads “Sokol Blosser Live” and takes on the wine label's colors.
Cascade is already working with a number of businesses that have customized the video feature based on their own needs. Kalkhoff Bikes Portland, the German electric bike retailer, uses video in their showroom. Potential customers can virtually check out the bikes from home with a service rep or ask a technician questions and get visual answers using the camera and the actual bike.
The Hello Foundation in Portland used the software for a live webinar, which helped bring in the highest number of visitors to the site yet. The foundation provides services for speech-language pathologists and school psychologists and can provide distance training for professionals using Brandlive.
Cascade was founded in 2001 as a web development company, but has evolved in recent years and is gathering an impressive portfolio of big-name clients.
This year Cascade launched websites for both VH1 and DreamWorks. The VH1 site, called “VH1 Loves Me Party” was a social media frenzy where people could post pictures of their special Valentine’s Day parties complete with huge, pink snuggies and decorations. The 3D-animated movie How to Train Your Dragon used Cascade to create a sweepstakes site that featured movie trailers and contests for the premiere of the movie.
McKinley is excited for what the future holds for Cascade and said the company is constantly launching new websites and adapting tools to keep up with the ever-changing pace of the web.
“Sometimes what we create is off-the-wall and unanticipated,” said McKinley, “but that’s what the web can be.”
Jessica Hoch is an online reporter for Oregon Business.