A Cambridge-based online media startup will compete next month with technology firms from around the country at the annual South by Southwest Interactive Accelerator.
Founded last year by software developer Anna Callahan, ZoomTilt brings together filmmakers and companies with a product to sell. The filmmakers create short, customized, online TV programs that integrate the companies’ products and messages, giving the companies a unique and entertaining marketing vehicle while giving the filmmakers funding and access to wider audiences.
Though the competition at the annual conference in Austin, Texas, will be tough, Callahan was upbeat about ZoomTilt’s chances.
“We feel like we’re pretty unique because we’re definitely the only ones that are producing content,” she said by phone on Tuesday.
Among the other seven finalists in the Entertainment and Gaming Technologies category are a British company that uses three-dimensional printers to create custom toys, a Maryland gaming company that offers a platform for weekly episodic video games, and Plympton, a Lincoln, Mass., company that publishes serialized fiction for tablet readers.
“There’s definitely some different, really interesting people out there doing different things,” Callahan said.
ZoomTilt was also a finalist in the 2012 MassChallenge startup competition, one of 125 selected from 1,237 applications from 35 countries and 36 US states.
The small company has grown quickly in a short time. From just one staff member — Callahan — at this time last year, it has expanded to a staff of four full-time and three part-time employees, with two new hires just last week.
It has just opened a new competition for filmmakers to pitch potential web series to the online printing company Vistaprint.
From here, Callahan hopes, the sky is the limit.
“We’re going after the $240 billion dollar video entertainment market,” she said. “Americans spend more time watching video than they spend doing anything else except sleeping and — perhaps — going to work.”
“We hope to have deals with Netflix and Youtubes and Hulus of the world,” she said. “We’re really strategically using branded entertainment as a place for us to leap into the larger video entertainment world.”