Visme is a single web-based platform that allows anyone, regardless of design inexperience, to convert visual concepts into professional-quality presentations, infographics, web banners and short animations.
2. Who is your startup aimed at?
Our primary focus has always been making the visual content creation process accessible to any user. Different people will be drawn to the Visme platform for their own various reasons — if it’s a small business owner looking to build a new flier, then they might be thinking about cost-effectiveness, whereas time efficiency might be the chief concern of someone putting together a professional presentation for the next day — but the idea is that we are a broad, inclusive vehicle for bringing any visual concept to life, no matter who came up with it or why. In the digital age, we think that accessibility is increasingly important.
3. How does your startup stand out against it’s competitors?
Most competitor tools can only handle one type of content. Infogr.am, for example, is geared toward infographics, while Prezi is only for non-linear presentations. It’s useful to think of Visme, in that sense, as the Swiss Army Knife of visual content. We’ve integrated all the functionality of content-specific web tools into a single platform with one learning curve and the ability to play between those modalities to generate dynamic, interactive web content.
4. Where did the idea for the startup come from?
In 2009, the lack of support for Adobe Flash Player by Apple generated a big gap for designers who didn’t have a ready alternative for creating interactive web-based and mobile content. At HindSite Interactive, we began feeling the effects of this almost overnight, and that’s where the idea got started.
Although Visme was initially geared towards designers, we soon noticed that people with no meaningful design experience were adopting the early platform to create slideshows and presentations. That’s when we realized how important these capabilities were, not just for industry insiders, but for people using the web across a broad spectrum of interests and pursuits. And that’s what gave us the impetus to create a one-size-fits-all web tool that would be powerful enough for people with know-how and accessible enough for people without it.
5. Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
There are always certain concerns when you get into a venture like this: are people going to use it? Are we gonna be able to monetize it? We were confident that we were onto something, but when you’re talking 15 months of development work, the doubts are always going to be there.
What helped was when we finally arrived at our beta launch, and began getting feedback from users. There were things we needed to rethink and things that needed tweaking, but it really got rid of the pressure to make everything perfect. We could see that people were engaged by the platform and were responding to it thoughtfully, even when they had criticisms. That gave us a lot of confidence.
6. What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
I founded HindSite Interactive back in 2001, during my last semester in college, with $170 and a vintage desktop in a small apartment. Over the years it has just sort of grown organically, and watching that whole process is what makes me want to try something new.
7. How did you initially raise funding for your company?
Visme has been entirely self-funded. It was incubated out of the resources from HindSite, our web consulting company, and has since gotten by with the help of its own revenue stream. It’s a different approach from the one most people take, and it’s been difficult, but we feel it’s given us a level of independence we couldn’t have gotten otherwise.
8. What has been your greatest achievement so far?
I remember 10 years ago, when I was working on projects with Adobe Flash, I would always think, ‘The credit for this should be going to the people who made Flash, not me. I’m just using the tool.’
It’s interesting to be on the other side a decade later. I’m so impressed by the uses people have already put the platform toward, and it’s very gratifying to see the ideas they’re able to make happen because of those tools. These are things I never could have specifically thought of myself, and so now that it’s my tool that’s helping people visualize their ideas, I get a very different sense of how that interaction works.
9. How do you keep your business relevant, and engaged with your audience over the last 3 years?
We listen to our users. That’s something we learned in the beta launch, which again, I can’t say enough how important it was in shaping the final product. In order to meet our goal of a truly inclusive content creation platform, we have to keep an open mind always to all the different concerns and difficulties people have using Visme. It can get a bit hectic sometimes, trying to juggle so much input, but we know that it’s that process that makes us better, and ensures that new users will find a place already adapted to fit their needs.
10. How long has the your startup been in the making, and who is the team behind the business?
Over 2 years. Our team came straight out of HindSite Interactive — me and two other key members to oversee development and design — so we already had that chemistry and those working relationships heading into the project. You don’t really notice all the little ways that kind of familiarity can help bring a project together, but I think we all realize now how important it was.
11. What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?
The hardest part were the constraints we ourselves put on the project. We wanted to be self-funded, and we wanted to keep the team small.
That’s created some challenges for us, because we’ve also had to manage things over at HindSite, but it’s also given us an independence to take quick and decisive action that we couldn’t have had if we were bogged down in board-of-directors politics and searching out investment.
12. In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
The foundation of our app is done, so now we’re looking toward monetizing Visme and expanding its reach.
Visme will always be free, but we have also developed a fuller set of features only available on our Premium plans. And that’s where the future lies for us from a business standpoint.
13. What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
You can’t predict how things turn out. You can run all the right analytics and lay your goals out clearly ahead of time, but in reality, the results will always be a bit different than you expect them. And that’s both good and bad.
14. If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
Find something you love and can devote yourself to. Every business will face steep and unforseen challenges. The only way to make it through the tough times is to feel that passion for what you’re doing.