Totlol to shut down on Canada Day

Vancouver web entrepreneur Ron Ilan announced last week that he’s shutting down his kid-friendly video site Totlol.

Totlol was launched in mid-May 2008 for early testing and it started growing. Parents came, submitted videos, helped screen them and had fun with their young ones. They told other parents who told others and my original set of bookmarks grew from about a dozen to over 15,000 clips. It is a diverse and rich set in which my son and daughter discovered lovable things we would have had no other way to discover.

My focus over the past year has been on making Totlol the best video web site for kids and parents out there. I think I succeeded. It got great reviews. It has been copied and borrowed from. It is packed with features. It has an iPhone web app. It has an active user community. It is growing. Last month Totlol was visited 150,000 times.

While building Totlol I was constantly looking for ways to make it sustainable. I failed. A “normal” website would just “fill up” with ads, but Totlol is not a “normal” site. There are two things that set harsh limits on what can be done – the target audience and the usage of the YouTube platform. With Totlol you just can’t do what other websites do.

It is now June 2009, more than a year has gone by, and I find myself running a website that is loved and growing but has no future. It needs a long term sponsor and I can’t find one. I just can’t support and develop it all by myself anymore.

So, it is now time to say goodbye.

On July 1st (which is Canada Day, BTW) I’m closing Totlol down. Life goes on.

Terrible news for Ilan and the Vancouver startup community. Totlol is a great idea that was executed well and has gained a modest audience that should justify further attention.

I suspect that something will give – whether it be an invite from a local incubator, a sitewide sponsorship deal or a small angel investment – and Totlol will survive past Canada Day. My two and a half year-old daughter certainly hopes so.