Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Brad Thomas, cofounder of Vindl.
Picture: Jesse Aish & Brad Thomas, co-founders, Vindl
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Vindl is a place to share and store all of your favourite online videos with friends — a library for those YouTube clips that have moved you to laughter, to tears or simply those that are too good to be watched alone.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
There's a very longwinded answer to this and one that is constantly evolving. But if we were to break it down to a few key areas, they would be these:
Social media: Having a presence across a diverse range of platforms is essential (Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter). Not only existing there, but understanding the kind of content people are going to connect with while still being true to your brand.
Integration of these other social platforms into our user experience was also a priority. For instance having the ability to share content from Vindl to Facebook and Twitter. We're seeing people push for more open source, cross-platform sharing. That's the future in our minds.
"Celebrity" engagement and promotion: It goes without saying that having a bit of celebrity behind your brand is valuable. It gives you exposure, but also credibility.
Creating a product worth talking about: If you can't generate conversation around your product, no amount of promotion will save you.
Traditional media (radio, press): The more times you can get your company name in front of people the better. Whilst we don't place as much value on traditional media as we do on more contemporary mediums (blogs, tech websites, social media presence), it's still a valuable part of our approach to generating growth.
Financing the idea: There's already been quite a bit of interest from potential investors, but we're waiting to find the right fit.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
Being discovered and then staying relevant in a very dynamic market.
How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?
Vindl is a social platform dedicated to sharing online videos. In the same way Instagram branched off from where Facebook started saying they wanted to give people a place to share beautiful photos, Vindl seeks to do the same with videos. Facebook already did photos, but there's something to be said for doing one thing really well.
The other company people may see as competition for Vindl is YouTube. We certainly don't see it this way. It's an incredible time that we live in where an ocean of free video content can exist in your pocket. And that's what YouTube brings to the world. So we always preface this answer with how much respect we have for them. The ocean that YouTube provides is vast — over 100 hours of video uploaded every minute. The thing that makes it such a powerful tool, its size, can also make it difficult to find great videos. Vindl attempts to channel this ocean into tailored video streams. How we do this is by using friends. The underpinning philosophy is that friends share common interests. So if my friend uploads a video, I'm probably going to find it interesting, even if I don't know what the video is about. In this way, Vindl makes it far easier to discover videos you'll love, but didn't know existed.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
YouTube. It's a tool like no other in terms of the knowledge and content we have access to at any given time.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
"Mobile is king". This simple piece of advice forced us to pivot substantially and put the majority of our resources into our mobile app development. We had originally started with a website, but changed as a result of these words. It means we're about to see an explosion in mobile usage and capability. Like most startups, we needed to prioritise where our money went and this piece of advice gave us the strength and guidance to do that.
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