Start-up helps monetize video chats

A new start-up wants to help brands, influencers and even teachers make money by communicating live with their followers.

The Call List's interactive live-streaming platform allows individuals and brands — from celebrities to chefs to fashion companies — to host exclusive events via video chat similar to Skype or FaceTime. Fans pay a fee to experience a one-to-one video, while hosts can see up to thousands of audience members on a larger screen.

The Call List

"We look at our platform and our way of engaging as the next step in the consumer's digital journey," says Amanda Patterson, the start-up's co-founder and CEO.

With packages starting at $14.99 per hour, users can host video chats directly on the start-up's app or license the technology to host chats on their own app or website. Musicians might offer behind-the-scenes access to a studio session. Beauty gurus may provide real-time makeup tutorials. Professors could host virtual "office hours."

The technology is designed for "anyone who would like to educate a consumer in a way that they're already interacting," says Patterson. "This is an opportunity to do that at scale."

The Call List was founded in 2016 after Patterson, a former management consultant, searched for a way to help a friend, a performance artist with a wide international fan base, monetize the performances he gave his followers over FaceTime.

"As a consultant, I, of course, started looking for a solution to help him scale this series so he could make fewer calls to more people at once and maintain the collective energy of his visual audience and even sell admission," says Patterson.

When she discovered that the technology did not exist, Patterson decided to build it — and sell it.

The Call List

"There are millions of influencers like him all over the world," said Patterson. "Brands hire these people for marketing to millennials."

Eighty-two percent of consumer Internet traffic will be video by 2021, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index. As influencer marketing on social media continues to grow, The Call List is betting that companies will turn toward video to attract consumers.

"The next billion smart phone users will rely on video," says Patterson. "Brands get it."

Headquartered in New York, The Call List currently has 4 clients, including a Fortune 500 beauty brand, which plans to leverage the platform for tutorials with celebrity makeup artists. Since its launch, about 500 users have participated on The Call List app.

While the start-up has engaged in direct sales with larger brands so far, Patterson says she hopes to launch a digital marketing campaign aimed at individual hosts in the next two quarters.

"Part of the reason to focus on brands and content platforms first is because there is a built-in audience that they are trying to deepen their relationship with," says Patterson.

"As we gain more brands and notable influencers, then new hosts will benefit from the crossover and the discovery on the platform."

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