A one-stop shop for news providers
Boaz Eshtai, Beamups
Next time you see news footage on television or a picture in the newspaper, you could be witnessing Israeli entrepreneur Boaz Eshtai's online business expand its global reach.
The former cameraman is the co-founder and chief executive of Beamups.com. The Herzliya-based start-up is a market place where video and photo journalists can upload content to sell directly to broadcasters, publishers and production companies.
Launched at the end of 2009, the company last year won the Media Guardian's Innovation award for the best business model and start-up. It counts Sky News, the BBC, Fox News, Israel's Channel 10 and the Daily Telegraph among its clients, and the list is growing rapidly. It has also signed deals with news agencies in Turkey and China, including one of the country's largest, Xinhua.
Beamups, which generates between 30 and 60 uploads a day is about one third of the size of major news agency Reuters but Mr Eshtai believes his company has the potential to become a significant rival to both Reuters and The Associated Press (AP)."Their models are subscription based," explains Mr Eshtai, 38. "This is expensive and coming under pressure. We are offering an 'à la carte' model: a cameraman shoots something, uploads it, tags it and prices it, while buyers log on and search for relevant material. You don't need to commit but can buy/see as and when you need to.
"It it about privatising the industry and giving more democracy to the cameraman, who keeps copyright and potentially maximises profits through multiple sales."
We decided the industry needed an eBay for news
More than 2,500 content providers and 700 buyers have registered with the site, which is proving particularly popular with production companies sourcing archive footage.
Mr Eshtai, who spent 15 years working for AP and Reuters, came up with the idea for Beamups while living in London. He was working on special projects for ITV's Tonight with Trevor McDonald. "I was having a chat with a cameraman friend of mine - we were in the same army unit together - and we decided that the industry needed an eBay for news. There was nowhere for us to post our footage with proper billing and monitoring. There was no one-stop shop for news distributors."
And so, with an investment of $2.7 million, Beamups was born. A father-of-two, Mr Eshtai admits he invested significantly into the business. "I sold my flat and didn't take a salary for a few months." He is now looking to secure $250,000 in the next round of funding to put towards marketing.
The site does not charge for registrations. It takes a takes a commission on sales of up to 35 per cent. "We think we have a really good model here. We are one tenth of the price of the large news agencies. What's more, we don't own the content therefore we don't have an agenda.
"We are really focussed on this and think it's something that is very much needed."
Tel Aviv-based Mr Eshtai has more than 15 years experience as a documentary and news cameraman.
In addition to Reuters and AP, he has worked for Channel 4, National Geographic and BBC News, among others. In 1996 he covered the Kosovo crisis. Other assignments include Gaza's Last Stand (BBC), The Impostor – with Martin Bashir (ABC) and most recently, Channel 4's hit series, Bodyshock.