Next up in our series of posts introducing tools to help small businesses, we are featuring Shakr -- an innovative start-up based in Seoul and San Francisco that creates video templates for small businesses to use for their advertisements or informational videos, eliminating the high costs associated with hiring a videographer and editor. Shakr has been making waves for its low-cost advantage and was recently featured in The New York Times as a smart resource for small business owners. Watch this video to see how Shakr can help you create polished visuals for your retail store or small business.

ShakrLogo_16to9Below is our conversation with Erik Cornelius, Vice President of Marketing at Shakr. Erik has generously offered a special discount to Kimco blog readers. The first 1,000 people that take advantage of the offer will receive 10 percent off any advanced template upgrades in the Retail collection. Just enter coupon code KIMCO-SAFSK-4SZSD at checkout.

Can you give us an overview of Shakr and how it works?

Erik Cornelius: At Shakr, we're breaking down the last barrier to small and local businesses making great video ads: Up-front production costs.

We make it incredibly easy to upload a few photos or video clips, drag them into our professionally-designed video styles, type a little text, and get a video that looks like it cost thousands of dollars. Shakr videos actually cost less than $100 to make. In fact, you can make any video on Shakr for free, share it on social media, and embed it on your blog and website. You only pay to upgrade if you want to remove the light watermark and have the ability to download the HD-quality video file.

How did the idea for the company come about? What makes you different from other products or services that were available to shops, restaurants, or other small business owners?

Cornelius: We actually started with personal videos for weddings, birthdays, and other big events. What we learned, though, is that there's an even bigger demand for professional-quality video among small and local businesses who are competing head-to-head with huge corporations with big budgets. In a survey of its small business customers last year, one of the major online ad platforms found that 88 percent of its advertisers wanted to run video ads, but only two percent knew how to make them.

At Shakr we've combined our drag-and-drop simple video editor with a marketplace of video styles that were created by the same motion graphics artists who work with big brands like Samsung, Nike, Kia, and Absolut. Shakr is really the only way that small businesses can afford an ad with this level of production quality.

What types of business are using your services today?

Cornelius: We serve a broad range of customers, but they tend to have visually appealing products or services, and an appreciation for quality. We're heavily into restaurants, hotels and resorts, real estate, autos, and fashion, but just today I came across a great ad for a gym, and another one for a chocolatier who is just getting started.

Walk us through the general process of building a video. What visual assets or information do you need to get started?

Cornelius: Shakr is extremely simple to use, but it helps to start by thinking about the message you want to convey. What is it you want people to think, do, or feel after they see your video?

To make a video, you'll need to pick from one of several hundred video styles on our site. They're neatly categorized by feeling and by industry, so don't get overwhelmed with the number.

You'll need to have some photos and, depending on the video style you choose, video clips, too. Don't worry about those being perfect. Our video styles are designed to make even middling photos and smartphone video look good. When you're building your video, you'll just drag and drop the images and clips into the scene where you want them.

Within a few minutes, your video will finish processing and be ready to go share.

Tell us a little about your latest move to making video ads accessible to small companies. How can small business owners or retail shops use this to promote their business?

Cornelius: Nothing livens up your blog, website, or Facebook page like video content. There's been a lot of recent research that shows video increases conversion rates when it’s included on product pages of e-commerce sites, too. You can easily embed the free versions of Shakr videos into your blog or website, or share it on Facebook or Twitter.

If you upgrade, you'll be able to upload your video to YouTube and other video sharing sites, or run it as a video ad on a platform like Google AdWords, BrightRoll, AOL On, or TubeMogul. That also lets you put the video on USB memory and play the video on the big TV in your store or facing the street.

What’s the typical cost of a video?

Cornelius: Well, as I've said many times, Shakr videos are free to make, share and embed. Upgrading removes the watermark and allows you to download the file. The typical cost to upgrade is $30 to $70, which is about $1,000 cheaper than the starting price of most professionally-produced video. We've made the cost this low so that small businesses can put more of their money toward promoting their ads, rather than making them.

Anything else you would like to add?

Cornelius: Be brave and try making videos with Shakr, or even with your camera. With practice, you'll get quite good at it, and your customers will really respond well to the visual nature of videos.

Visit Shakr’s website and blog for additional info on how videos can enhance a business’ advertising and marketing needs.

This has been an installment of StoreFront, an interview series with leaders of successful retail businesses. For more interviews, visit the StoreFront page. To learn how you can be featured, email us. We’d love to hear from you.