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Local Web Startup Glocal.com Offers New Twist On Video News

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mattroush Matt Roush
Matt Roush joined WWJ Newsradio 950 in September 2001 to spearhead the...
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DETROIT — Aaron Hodari and Lincoln Cavalieri have been friends literally as long as they can remember, going all the way back to first grade. They were friends all the way through Detroit Country Day School. And despite the fact that they want to different universities — Hodari to the University of Michigan, Cavalieri to Syracuse — they stayed friends.

And so it makes sense that they’ve established a new Web-based business called Glocal (pronounced GLOW-cull, not G-Local). Entrepreneurship seems a natural, too — since they both placed college lacrosse, they’re used to getting whacked in the shins.

Glocal is a local news video aggregator that boosts video views for news outlets.

After Hodari’s 2009 graduation, he moved to New York City and went to work for BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. A year later Cavalieri and his brother moved to New York City – in with Hodari. The three started putting together the business idea that would become Glocal.

How to finance it? Well, Cavalieri’s grandfather, former general manager of Olympia Stadium, happened to know Compuware Corp. co-founder Peter Karmanos Jr.

“So I got in touch with Pete, gave him a five-minute pitch on the phone, then flew back to Detroit and had a pitch here, stayed a week and kept pitching, a week turned into a month and after six months we finalized the details of the investment,” Cavalieri said.

The investment of $1 million from Compuware Ventures formally came through Aug. 31. Since then the company has hired its first two employees, a 20-year veteran area programmer, and a young programmer fresh out of UM. The company also had four summer interns from UM, and Compuware has helped developed the Glocal site. Cavalieri serves as CEO, president and is responsible for setting the overall direction of product strategy, while Hodari handles accounting, personnel, marketing, public relations and legal.

So what is Glocal? Cavalieri said the idea came from a 2009 brainstorming session after reading an article on Hulu. There was Hulu for TV shows, and YouTube for homemade videos, and Vimeo for highly produced videos — but what about a site for professionally produced news and information videos? Especially one that focused on the local level.

Thus, Glocal — a Web site for local news arranged by local areas.

“It’s a video-only Web site,” Hodari said. “It’s only high quality content. We only allow certain providers to be on the site.”

That’s decided by management decision as to whether they produce high-quality content, and it isn’t just necessarily TV news operations.

Said Hodari: “We ask, ‘do they make high quality video? Is it relevant to our mission?’ Yes, we want the local news stations on there, but that doesn’t mean the Detroit Zoo or the Detroit Symphony or Autoline Detroit don’t all make high quality video that is of interest to people in Detroit.”

The home page features both local and global video. Local videos become global by popularity.

What’s in it for video news sources? Why should they allow their content to appear on Glocal and not just on their own sites?

“What’s in it for the news sources is more views, and eventually advertising dollars — we will share revenue,” Hodari said.

Crain’s Detroit Business and Detroit Public TV are among the early local adopters of Glocal as another channel for their Web news video. National providers signed up so far include the Associated Press. The rest of Glocal’s videos come from 1,900 providers that allow reposting of their videos online.

For Crain’s, Hodari said, “we get pretty much the same number of views for them as YouTube does, and we have way less users.”

And Glocal doesn’t control the content its approved video sources post, “unless you violate our terms of service, and then we can suspend you,” Hodari said.

What’s next? “The progression now is to build up a user base,” Cavalieri said. “We will have to go for another round of funding. The plan is to use that money to develop the moneymaking side of gLocal, which is our advertising platform. The plan is to have it be geared very much toward local busiess owners who don’t have a ton of money to make a video ad and put it online. We will offer them online editing software for their video.”

More at www.glocal.com.

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