Business Idea: Animal Sanctuary video feeds

10 Dec 2017

Business Ideas 

A while back I built a tool for displaying live videos of kittens. At the time, one of the things I discovered was that despite there being umpteen billions of cat videos on the internet, there are relatively few live video streams (and only one tortoise feed AFAIK). One of the main ones is TinyKittens, who do great work with feral cats, but I was always wondering about why there isn't more of this sort of thing. Then yesterday I was at the demo day for Escape the City's Career Change Accelerator (which my partner has been on recently), and one of their cohort mentioned wanting to work in a turtle sanctuary, which made me think about this problem again.

I've got a pretty good idea about how to do this, and I think it's at least semi-viable, but most of the problems are people-wrangling and tech support things, so I'm throwing this one out into the world for someone else to have a look at as those are less my forte.

Core concept is as follows: animal sanctuaries have a bunch of cute animals (and not so cute ones, but that's ok as well) and would like to get more of the public interested and involved, so they can get more donations and so help the animals more. More of them are getting better at social media and showing off pictures of the animals, but I think that there's more that can be done. This organisation I'm proposing would provide setup and ongoing tech support for live streaming of the animals of an animal sanctuary, as well as providing an integrated website with both video feeds and a direct donation option. This is predicated on the idea that most animal charities either don't have sufficient technical personnel to do this, or that funding it as an individual organisation would be excessively expensive, but that if it was provided to them (ideally for free) they'd be interested.

In other words: TinyKittens-as-a-service :) (don't use that name, but you get the idea). Let's call it TKAAS for the moment. TKAAS would provide a box (probably a Raspberry Pi) plus video cameras for the sanctuary that either plugs into their existing internet connection, or possibly adds an additional one for it's dedicated use if needed. Ideally there's also some sort of display near the video camera so the sanctuary staff can see what's being streamed, and probably also some sort of big button they can push to stop the streaming for whatever reason (with the understanding that the default is "on all the time"). TKAAS do all the installation of this, monitor and maintain said box, mostly remotely, and will provide any and all technical support necessary to make sure the video feed continues to work.

Said video feed is then sent to the TKAAS site. The sanctuary-specific page shows all the live feeds, possibly also some highlights and archives of the feeds, and a really easy donation option (both one-off and ongoing) to the sanctuary. There's possibly also advertising, to again additionally support the sanctuary.

There's a couple of variants on the business model: ideally this is all free to the sanctuary, and TKAAS fund it by taking a cut of the donations and advertising from the site. This is definitely what should be done for the initial sanctuaries, and ideally from then on as well. There might also be some sort of model where TKAAS approaches some sanctuaries and says "this is all free for the first 6 months, and if it looks like you're interesting enough to our viewers (i.e. we're making at least enough money to cover our costs), it continues to be free, otherwise there's some sort of ongoing charge so we at least break even" but is also willing to let random sanctuaries that approach TKAAS that are willing to pay from the beginning on as well. All of this is pretty mercenary, but even if it's a social enterprise, TKAAS needs to make sure it continues to exist, so there's a certain level of this that needs doing, and being somewhat selective as to where the free resources go is a good way towards that.

MVP for all of this is one sanctuary, one camera, and say streaming to YouTube. Embed the live stream in a simple website, add a really simple one-off donation via Stripe or something and you're off. Other than the talking to people, I could have this done in less than a week (if I had the spare time).

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