As an artist, Adam travelled a lot, he would travel extensively for his exhibitions. He would occasionally give talks at the local art or design schools about his profession, but after finding it difficult to connect with the audience, he decided he needed a better way to tell his story - he wanted them to see the big picture. He decided to do something about it, he created Prezi and that was over 10 years ago.
Today, Prezi has over 10 million users on its platform
Can you give you some background information about yourself, were you the entrepreneurial type growing up?
More like the innovator type. When I was five, I never ate any sweets I got right away. I wanted to eat a little every day - but my brother and dad always snuck up on my sweets! So, I built a small mechanical alarm system that protected my goods. In my studies in architectural design, I actually focused much more on possibilities of interactivity in architecture than on building plans. Later, I became an artist, and worked with radio waves and heat instead of traditional materials.
What were you doing before you founded the company?
I worked as a media artist. I was also a founding member of an innovation lab called Kitchen Budapest. Examples include Reorient, a space made of thousands of electronic toys, Ping Genius Loci- a field of outdoor analogue pixels, and Brainmirror- a mixed reality experience presenting MRI through a mirror..
Tell me how the idea for Prezi came about?
As an artist, I travelled for my exhibitions extensively, and, often, I would give talks at the local art or design schools about what I do. Frankly - I found it very hard to develop my story on slides--- they felt so disconnected, it was hard to see the big picture, and to craft a good thread for the story. So, I built a simple zooming canvas, just for personal use for my presentations. This was about 10 years ago. So, Prezi really came about to answer a personal need.
Then, I met Peter Halacsy, now CTO of Prezi, who liked the idea, but wanted to create an easy-to-use tool for it. I think he was interested in it for himself actually, as he was teaching a lot. Then came Peter Arvai, CEO, who pushed us to become a global product, and SaaS, beyond our personal use :)
What is Prezi?
Prezis are zooming presentations, that were fun to create. People can create them on prezi.com for free, and already 10 million users have chosen to do so. Because you see you ideas next to each other, prezi helps you to think through what you want to say for the audience, prezis create memorable experiences. Beyond the 1st 'wow-moment', actually seeing texts, images, videos on a large canvas, helps you to memorize them much better.
It is like that old technique for learning words - you put them on stickies in your room, and your brain will associate them with a location. same happens in prezi. people associate ideas to location on the zooming canvas, and they remember more.
What are you trying to solve with Prezi?
Sharing of ideas should be both fun, engaging, and efficient. Today people present and email slides for this purpose. I really don't think that is the best humanity can do.
Talk me through the first few months of running the business? What would you say was the hardest part of starting the business?
Understanding that some people don't think exactly like we do - to keep track to this, we incorporate user research, user testing, and statistical data for the usage of our product tightly into our core values.
How were you able to fund the business?
Before we launched our product, and were running in private beta mode, we sold single prezi presentations for large events. We delivered the technology and the design too. Luckily after we unveiled prezi to the public, we have always been cash flow positive. Later, we raised capital investment with TED Conferences, in 2009, and then in 2011 with Accel Partners.
How has your market changed in the past few years? How has your business changed to keep pace?
The idea of zooming is becoming more common, people are more accustomed to it thanks to smartphone browsing. This really helps our learning curve.
Would you say the initial idea for the company, or that your business model has changed since starting the company?
Our business model is still the same, a freemium model where privacy of content sets the packages apart.
Our product has matured massively, and we understood that it does not only work great at ballroom presentations, but on daily meetings, and as a remote delivery as well. Prezi also has become very popular in education, given that it is really good for explaining complex matters.
What would you s has been some of the most crucial that you've done to build the company to this level now?
Sharing and thinking in a team. Now we are 70 people, and each one is fantastic professional--- who know more than us, the founders, in their respective professions! Attracting this talent by giving them intellectual space was crucial.
Is the business profitable? What is your business model?
Yes, prezi is cash-flow positive. Our business model is Freemium. Anyone can use the public Prezi license for free. Paid (Prezi Pro) users receive the desktop app, as well as a private option for their online prezis.
What’s been your most memorable moment so far on your entrepreneurial journey?
Every fews days I receive an email, from someone I've never met, from the US or Asia, anywhere, thanking me for doing prezi. They say that they feel creative, happy, and became successful thanks to our tool. This fuels a never ending, and truly fantastic drive to work harder and make prezi better every day.
What pieces of advices could you give to aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
- Try your idea as early as you can. get feedback from people, reality.
- Don't be afraid to change
- Believe in and respect others, who join your journey.
What can we be expecting from you and Prezi in 2012?
Lots of new features, with an even simpler workflow so you can create a fantastic prezi quickly-- just before you need to give the talk. (I already do this for my conference talks :) )