Social innovator Leslie Bradshaw joins new venture transforming text into living video

Eric Pfeiffer
Yahoo News

If Leslie Bradshaw has her way, in a few months you'll be listening to and watching this article.

In Miami, flocks of tourists and beachcombers can be found relaxing on the shore on any given day. But across town in a hip office space, no water in sight, one entrepreneur is working hard, helping to launch a new technological innovation that just may change the way people read.

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Guide COO Leslie Bradshaw stands outside her company's Miami headquarters (Photo credit: Angicel Morales)

“We take online news and blogs and turn them into video,” Leslie Bradshaw told Yahoo News in a recent interview via Skype from the Miami headquarters of her newest venture, Guide. We’re constantly curating what we consume and our reading experience should be no different.” If Leslie Bradshaw has her way, in a few months you'll be listening to and watching this article.

And like any endeavor Bradshaw undertakes, her goals are certainly ambitions. She’s already been involved in some incredibly cool milestones like helping NASA and Foursquare deliver the first “check-in” from space. And she’s played a major role in helping the C-SPAN network bring its presidential coverage into the21st century, winning a Peabody in 2009 for the redesign of its video archives.

January 16 is a big day for Bradshaw, Guide’s new Chief Operating Officer. She recently departed the company she cofounded in 2007, JESS3, which specializes in social media, graphic design and branding. And while she departed that project in the best way possible, on her own terms and with a vision pointed toward the future as COO of an exciting new start-up, she has remained quiet about her next move. In fact, that discretion appears to be part of her charm in a social media world often dominated by loud, male voices.

For example, just last week at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, Bradshaw drew rave reviews for her decidedly unique approach to product management as she and the Guide team met with interested colleagues. That’s to say, unlike so many others in the business world, she knows how to pique interest while keeping a secret.

“Leslie has both a killer sense of the next generation of content marketing, as well as the know-how to build a team from the ground up,” Guide CEO Freddie Laker said in a statement provided to Yahoo News on Bradshaw joining his new venture. “The technology and content industries have taken notice of her dedication and passion for innovative work—and so have I.”

Guide doesn’t launch until February, but interested users can sign-up for the beta, which is set to launch in next few weeks. I’ve seen a demo of Guide and can attest that its potential is nearly limitless.

While many of Guide’s specific features remain under wraps, what I can tell you is that in its most basic form, it will take the news articles you read (or write) and transform them into streaming audio and video. The concept presents broad opportunities both for established and mainstream organizations down to the aspiring blogger looking to reach their audience in a new way.
 
Quite literally, a Guide user will take text from an article and use the app to convert that text into audio, which is read by a digital avatar. There’s a lot more to Guide than that, most of which is still being kept under wraps until February. But the idea of a cross-platform outlet for text is something that will likely appeal to both content creators and consumers alike.

“What really struck is that Guide allows me to curate the content that I love into a format I want,” Bradshaw said when asked what specifically lured her away to take a chance on the new enterprise. “I cook for myself and I exercise regularly but I still want to be consuming content even when I can’t physically stop to read.”

As Laker and the rest of the Guide team prepare for its formal launch, Bradshaw, will be hard at work doing what she does best: organizing and collaborating with the team and reaching out to potential partners.

“I can help bring together a team of people that has disparate disciplines,” she said “Working for Fortune 500 clients and teams around the world has given me a wealth of experience in delivering creative content on time.”

The company’s first major goal is simply to get potential users to sign-up and take Guide for a test drive. The next major step comes in Bradshaw’s role of building partnerships with media companies who can both use and promote Guide. And finally, Bradshaw says she envisions a day not too far in the distant future when smart phone and tablet device manufacturers will pre-install Guide on new devices.

In other words, it’s a global takeover or bust.

“By 2015, more than 500 million TV’s with display search will have shipped,” Bradshaw said. “It’s going to be highly connected. Things are going to shift and move.”

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