Among the hundreds of startup pitches I’ve been trying to catch up on over the past month, one that caught my eye — partly because of its dark and hypnotic splash page — is The Whoa Show. It’s a concept — sorry, media company — based out of Orange County, CA, whose goal is to engage not passive, “Hey, check this out!” 5-second viewing (and consequently gain the viral 10 million pageview dream), but active involvement, participation, and interaction from its audience.
The company plans to create several “Whoa Shows,” which are different concepts, contests, and challenge that involve the audience taking an action and submitting the video based on the action. The first Whoa Show, is going to be “First in Action,” which involves participants carrying out the previously directed action, and directing the succeeding participant to carry out an action (of course, timeliness being the catch, where a participant has to be quick enough to submit the video of him carrying out the previous action to get his action carried out.)
A similar concept to First in Action, to understand the kind of concept it is, would be the two month old Gmail: Behind the Scenes collaborative project by Google where fans submitted videos of themselves passing the Gmail envelope from one side of the camera to another and the most creative entries were spliced together. However, there are notable differences such as a Whoa Show concept isn’t exactly collaborative as there is no build up with each clip and no “final” clip, and each clip in the chain is created individually.
David Hissami, its founder and CEO, states that The Whoa Show is the first company on the web to put a structure to user-generated content, something in my opinion that has been severely needed to avoid the dominance of “I’m making something uninteresting, watch me speak”-esque videos on the web (which are so uninteresting to me, and I’m sure any other person, that they have started to prompt regulatory suicidal thoughts and the often wondering of “What has the world come to?”, but anyway. 😉 ) By putting structure to user-generated content, David points out that it allows their shows to “become more valuable than professional content, especially given the high level of audience involvement and participation, and lack of production costs.”
The Whoa Show, which launches New Year’s Day 2008, is going to be something to watch over the next year. It could end up like tens of other “we’re virally taking over the world” attempts, or worse, die after its first “Action,” featuring subsequent videos of its founders sporting fake beards and masks in a shrewd attempt to gain the next submission. On the other hand, if carried out well, Whoa Shows has the potential to be the pinnacle of user-generated content and finally get the majority of content as such to a stage that is “virally tolerable” and actually forthright entertaining, or in other words, something to stop my frequent suicidal thoughts, and prompt me to get some popcorn, watch, and laugh. And if he’s able to pull this off, I promise David to pay him my otherwise-Psychiatrist fees.