We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Yogesh Aggrawal”, Global Marketing Associate of the Kathmandu Nepal-based start-up “Picovico”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
Picovico is a cloud based service that convert photos into videos. It basically takes pictures, texts, music and blends them with a style to make a beautiful looking slideshow video. Currently its available as a free app on Android, as a web service on PCs and as API for developers. The flagship product is the Android app- Picovico Slideshows.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
It was founded in 2011 by two computer engineers. The same July it got selected for The Morpheus Gang and later for The Start-up Chile program. The whole service underwent a major overhaul at the backend during the last year and the service is now the fastest in the industry. Currently, we are working to develop a comprehensive service for developers to integrate video creation in their applications.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Picovico’s Android app is free to use. We’re building our user base before we roll out premium upgrade plans. The business model would be to charge for in-app premium features on Android and API users.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Picovico was found by two avid computer engineers- Suraj Sapkota and Manish Modi. Both of them are from Nepal where Picovico is based right now. Manish oversees the technical development with Dhruba Adhikari. Later, Hem Shrestha joined as Android developer and Amit Agrawal joined as the Business Head. The total team size is six people.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
We stand out at with the ease-of-use in our service and the speed of rendering. Among all our competitors, we provide the fastest graphics rendering with our patented technology. And since our aim is to simplify video making for general people, our app is designed such that a video can be created in mere four steps.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
Picovico got some initial traction immediately after the acceleration by Start-up Chile. Since then the user base is growing at a healthy organic pace in absence of any traditional marketing. Nearly 68% of the users are returning users and a lot of them refer Picovico to their freinds and family as reflected in their feedback. We have processed more than 10.13 million images so far which amounted to around a million videos.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
Our main competitor is Animoto and we have strategies in place to compete with them. Our main advantage is relatively smaller scale that we operate in right now, which allows us to provide customized service to paying clients. We have started rolling out 2 video styles every month recently and are the first and the only service to provide HD videos for free to make and even download.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
The main obstacle is to compete with companies in the US because of the advantage that location offers. Being based in Nepal, it is at times a bit difficult to manage all and hence we will probably move to West within an year. Other issues are all those a startup normally faces, which we manage to overcome with team work and resource optimizations.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
The video industry on internet is growing at a huge rate. But the rapid adoption of it worldwide will depend on the two things: the ease with which people can make videos and the ease with which people can watch videos. We’re working in the first aspect and are trying to provide the best value in our segment with the fastest rendering process.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We’ll succeed because we’ll bring the next billion to video making online. We’re affordable, we’re fast, we’re accessible and we’re innovative. There doesn’t seem a strategic reason that can stop us from being the next big thing in our field.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
Currently we are focusing on only improving our existing domain and later when things are favorable we want to continue building upon our services by building product for more professional people in video making. Existing product is more towards novice people and non-technical audience.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
The idea was inspired from our personal experience. We wanted to share our pictures with friends in a rather interesting ways and chose to make a video using a desktop software which proved to be daunting and required much effort with a decent output. This intrigued us to make a service that can instantly convert photos into videos. It started with an ‘fmpeg’ command and today is an emerging name in the field.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
The main learning is in the business model of the venture. We had no idea how we’ll earn since we made the first product for our own use. With the acceleration program, we explored various business models and have laid forward the best one for us. Another learning has been in translating user pain-points into service features. We have learned to become user oriented than trying to impose unnecessary new features.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
In the near future, the biggest problem would be to efficiently handle the sales and marketing of the product. We’ll ready to go full fledged to the mass market and will need sufficient human resources to handle the growth. Getting such people is little difficult in Nepal.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
The customer benefits from the sheer ease that Picovico offers. Anybody who have never created a slideshow or have tried to do so using tedious software will immediately appraise the comfort in making slideshow video with Picovico. And above all, the service being free makes it easier for people to adopt to this trend.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Until now, it’s all word of mouth marketing. We rely on our user’s love that they show towards us by referring us in their circles. Some leading publications have featured us in the past and emerging influencing bloggers keep writing about us in context of their domain. Picovico has a wide scope in usage applications.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our current paying customers are marketing agencies in Europe and India. And among free users, the typical profile would be a young smartphone user between 18-29 years of age who loves to share interesting content with people. Our target free users are around this profile only. And for paid clients we target businesses that rely on content marketing for building brands. These can be agencies or the SMBs.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
New users come from search engines mostly. A small fraction of such users has been nurtured by our social media presence on popular platforms. The no-frills placement of our product makes it attractive to genuinely interested users who want no-ads, no marketing gimmicks, etc. Feedback from previous users also play a big role in convincing new users to get on board.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
Till now, users are loving the product. They appraise the UX of the app and ask for more styles that fits in all their needs. We’re working towards fulfilling such requests.
20. How are you going to scale?
We’ve completely scalable infrastructure at the backend. And in terms of business, we’ll scale by leveraging our free service to pull paid clients. We’re targeting content marketing agencies who if satisfied will bring end-user businesses to us.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
Well, it has to be a premium features like 1080p video and the ability to buy music in-app. Partnership with music vendors are in pipeline to address the second issue. And regarding 1080p on Android we think users will have to wait for a few more months.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We’re definitely going to go global at large scale. We’ll do this by leveraging agencies and referrals of existing clients. We already have some clients in Europe and India.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We can get as big as user’s love for us can be. We aim to process at least a million video per day within 2 years. This is possible given we keep building on our existing user’s trust and keep them coming back for more.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We definitely need to hire a new workforce that can join the company for its growth. The positions will be in field of programmers, designers and business development. However the vacancies have not been announced yet.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We’ll need financial resources to market our service among mass and develop systems. This resources can be in form of VC funding or strategic partnerships. Currently we are funding it internally after receiving a seed investment from the accelerator. Potential investors can request more information at our official email address.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
We’re not yet in a position to give out advice but from whatever we have learnt so far we would like to tell that any idea is as valuable as the commitment of team behind it. Thousands of people are thinking about any given idea at a time, and only those grow big which are backed by a highly committed team who can struggle to survive every stage of its growth.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
We would like to thank Start-ups.co for letting their audience learn about us. We are here to make a difference and we will definitely influence the way instant videos are made online.