Kanopy concept created in garage

Sean Smith
Kanopy founder Olivia Humphrey. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

If a home garage is the launch pad for success, Olivia Humphrey's Kanopy is on a winner.

The emerging WA media business, variously dubbed the YouTube or the Netflix of the education sector, is racking up an impressive array of accolades, the latest as a regional winner of EY's regional Entrepreneur of the Year awards last month.

Five years after it began supplying online videos and DVDs to university libraries from Ms Humphrey's Scarborough garage, Kanopy has a library of 20,000 videos accessible by five million students and academics at hundreds of tertiary institutions in Australia and the US.

Having snared 80 per cent of the Australian market, it has now turned its attention offshore, with its founder relocating to a new office in San Francisco to meet growing demand in the US.

The EY judging panel described Ms Humphrey, 37, as "a passionate young entrepreneur who has seized a great idea and turned it into a reality".

With a background in media rights management with the BBC in London and Village Roadshow in Sydney, Ms Humphrey saw a gap in the education market.

"Despite university students being the highest consumers of online videos through YouTube and Netflix, videos weren't really part of the tertiary curriculum," she said. "It didn't make sense."

Using the cash flow from video distribution, Kanopy completed Ms Humphrey's business model by adding a streaming platform 2 1/2 years ago. By that stage, Kanopy and its handful of staff had all but taken over Ms Humphrey's home, ultimately resulting in the business moving to Subiaco.

Kanopy sources anything of interest to the tertiary sector, from architecture and health, to anthropology and dental science.

Most Australian universities have signed up, their libraries only too willing to outsource responsibility for aggregating and managing video content.

But Kanopy's success has been just as much about convincing academics that they could better integrate film into their courses, improving engagement with a new generation of video-savvy students. Kanopy also enables teaching staff to upload content, including filmed lectures.

Kanopy provides each subscriber with its own website and licences the content to the users through its streaming platform. For a set per-video annual fee, the institutions can make unlimited use of the content at any time and on any device.

The model has also proven popular with film makers as they pocket most of the licensing fee and are able to monitor use of their content by Kanopy's clients.