Is this the Stripe for media files?

Ittybit wants to make life easier for developers working with video, images, and audio

Hello there,

A powerful new developer tool can be an exciting thing for developers… and potentially for investors, too.

Today, meet Ittybit, which is rethinking how apps handle media files for the modern age.

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– Martin

Ittybit wants to be the Stripe for media files

Sometimes the best startup ideas come from founders solving a problem they’ve experienced themselves, which then turns out to be a ‘why has no-one ever done this before?’ scenario.

That could be the case with Ittybit, which makes it easy for developers to handle media files in smart ways that are fit for the demands of today’s tech world.

In practice, this means making it easier to upload and process video, audio, and image files. But not just ‘process’ in the old-school ‘compress it and make it ready to be consumed online’ sense. 

Ittybit can also do useful things like analyse the subject of a video, transcribe audio, censor specific words and the like, with the help of generative A.I.

It’s all wrapped up in an API developers can tap into for their projects.

“It comes from my own personal experience of having used all the alternatives over the course of several startups,” explains founder Paul Anthony Williams

“The traditional approach has been, you have a giant file that sits on a server somewhere. It's ones and zeros, and it's expensive to send it to the end user. And you've no idea what's inside of it. So we're trying to solve those two problems.”

Who it’s for… and why

Manchester-based Ittybit has its eye particularly on developers in startups and other small teams.

Williams gives an example of one of Ittybit’s earliest users: of a team developing a social platform for creatives such as fashion designers, videographers, and musicians. High-quality media uploads are a must for that audience.

“Their alternative was to use AWS, and have two developers full time just on the whole media handling thing. So we were able to make that a lot faster, a lot more affordable for them… They just have one single upload component that we provide,so they were able to move really, really quickly.”

Another Ittybit user, Williams says, was struggling with the bandwidth bills for videos that were being watched tens of thousands of times every month. 

“He's hiring contractors to build out an app for him. So he's like, ‘do I need to add more contractors? Or do I just bite the bullet and pay for a Vimeo contract or a big CDN contract’? We were able to slot in between those two options for him. 

“So he had one developer part-time who was able to add all those videos in just a few minutes. We provide the player, so he gets lots of great analytics and without anything technical. And we were able to save him quite a lot of money as well.”

The question is: why hasn’t this been done before? Williams believes media streaming bandwidth has been a lucrative cash cow in the industry for years. 

And while there are SaaS products to help businesses handle media, they’re not necessarily priced in such a way as to be useful to developers building scalable apps.

“Previously, you had everything on one server. You had your database, your back-end server, your front-end code, or HTML, or whatever. And that's really changed in the last few years. So you could use something like Firebase for authentication and your database, and you can use Algolia for search…

“There's a new market for back-end-as-a-service options. And there isn't a great one for media yet. We're obviously hoping to build the one that is great.”

The story so far

Williams says his relationship with online media files goes back to the mid-2000s when he was at school, and enjoyed uploading fun little videos to the nascent YouTube.

This developed into professional work, growing a large YouTube channel and working with big-name brands. But he ended up with a day job as a software developer while maintaining activity as what we’d now call a ‘creator’ on the side.

These two worlds came together with his first startup, Better Football.

“Thousands of kids around the world would look at coaching videos that we hosted. We had to figure out payments, because this was pre-Stripe, which was a bit of a nightmare. And then that business was acquired when I was at university.”

Building on that experience, he then launched Fanfare, a service to help creators monetise their content.

“It was a product that would enable creators to launch either private membership apps or courses. Some of those did really well, but it wasn't able to hit that scale where it was a venture-backable company. It just was a really nice business. It wasn't going to be worth £100 million.”

This experience taught Williams about the pricey headaches faced by developers handling video. After selling Fanfare in 2019, he started work on a decentralised social network, but quickly realised there was far more potential in solving those media file headaches.

He teamed up with Paul Gardiner to build video technology that they found people would pay for, and so Ittybit was born and quickly developed into something bigger.

“Working with those early customers helped shape our roadmap. We didn't originally add images, and we certainly didn't add audio. It was just a request from customers; it was one of the pain points for them. They were having to stitch together different services.

“We asked ‘what APIs do you like, like what products you currently use that you love?’ And then we’d shamelessly copy some of the features from there that people really like, try to avoid the things that are extra friction, extra headaches, extra steps. So that's got us to a point where we've got a really nice product now.”

Next steps

Having recently completed the Baltic Ventures accelerator programme, Ittybit is gearing up to grow the business around the product they’ve built.

They’re taking the tried and tested ‘build a funnel, offer a free trial, and then convert them to a paid subscription’. approach.

Williams says he’s looking forward to getting stuck into SaaS metrics and refining their sales funnel and the product itself.

“'I’m looking forward to this year. I think it'll be all fun, with different challenges every month.”

Go deeper on Ittybit

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