May 31, 2007, 12:00 AM

Azooca promotes “show and tell” web site with free video e-mail offer

Azooca, a fledgling online video marketplace, plans to offer a free video e-mail service as a way to introduce consumers—and retailers that might want to sell through Azooca—to the wonders of self-produced video.

Azooca, a fledgling online video marketplace, plans to offer a free video e-mail service as a way to introduce consumers-and retailers that might want to sell through Azooca-to the wonders of self-produced video.

The video e-mail service will go live June 6, says company president and CEO Brian Zheng. Users sign up at the Azooca site, shoot their video with a camera plugged into their PC, and the video file is uploaded to the Azooca server. The e-mail can then be sent out as a compressed file-not an attachment-to e-mail recipients specified by the user. Zheng says he has a patent on sending video as a compressed e-mail file.

Zheng says the main purpose of the free video e-mail service is to introduce consumers to Azooca, and he plans to give away at least 2,000 cameras to promote the use of online video.

Zheng says he also wants to attract retailers that want to sell goods on the Azooca marketplace. He says they can use video to promote their products and services, and to demonstrate how complex products work. “You can make a video showing how to set up your product, how to start it, how to use it. You can make a video instruction sheet,” he says.

The goal is to attract more retailers to display their wares on Azooca so that the site becomes more attractive to consumers. He says 3,000 merchants have posted 33,000 products to the site so far. Azooca went live in March, and gets about 1,000 unique visitors each day, Zheng says. Retailers with videos posted to Azooca.com include Lamps Plus and Lobster Gram, which let visitors click to buy featured products on their retail web sites.

Azooca also allows consumers to post their own videos to the site, telling merchants what they want. Retailers will be able to contact consumers about their demands, and consumers will be able to bargain for better deals, the company says.

Azooca expects to make money by charging a transaction fee that will vary from 1% to 5% depending on the product. For instance, the site offers real estate and Zheng says he could not charge a 5% fee when real estate agents charge less than that. He says Azooca currently is not charging any fees as a way to attract retailers while building its consumer base.

Zheng previously founded a company called PlayHut that developed collapsible play structures for children. The parent company of Azooca is Patent Category Corp., which Zheng says manages patents, licensing deals and investments.

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