[Editor's Note] Milos Bezanov is a second year student currently studying International Politics at King’s College London.
Business is business. From the major coporations right down to the freshest of startups, it's tempting to think there isn't much difference. After all, even the Microsoft's and Apples of this world were startups at one time or another. So what has changed? It was called microsoft then and it still is now. Unless Bill Gates gets drastically better at naming things, we an assume it won't change. Rather, what has changed is everything else. Nobody knew Microsoft the startup, but everybody knows Microsoft the corporation, what they do, who runs them etc etc.
If you're an SME by contrast people are unlikely to know your name offhand, even if it is far more interesting than “Bill Gates”. Bridging the gap is the goal of Israeli based Viewbix. Founded by Jonathan Stefansky in 2011, they create promotional videos and link them to apps and other features. Jonathan says that “The whole point of video creation..is to drive action”. That is, to convert hits and views to sales and paying customers. So the real question becomes; how is this done when it's not Microsoft or Apple on the other end?
To see the logic in Viewbix we need to look back to his previous venture, Qoof, a service that “allowed large advertising agencies to create interactive video ads”, that is, to customise their videos. However, like a lot of startups, nothing is ever perfect the first time; “we had built a great technology...but we realised we were selling to the wrong market. In the US there are 8-10 million small businesses...most of which don't have a good way to convert viewers into action takers”. Soon after this, Viewbix was born. It is a highly versatile platform that allows viewers to do almost anything from purchase goods, subscribe to newsletters, follow brands on social networks and print discounted coupons (always useful for us students).
It's easy to use, and even easier to understand. The layout is similar to Youtube except for the blue border at the top with a hyperlink that says “get viewbix”. There are an array of customised applications to choose from in the “Viewbix studio”, you select the ones you want and create a personalised web page for your video. Unlike Qoof, what's unique about Viewbix is the use of these applications to market your business in different ways.
Not only is it unique, it's beginning to get noticed. The Israeli based company recently obtained £2 million in seed money with Canaan partners and Longfellow venture partneres. this investment did not come from nowhere, Viewbix boasts a 20% conversion rate, and paramount studios on their previous client list. That is, 20% of viewers take “some type of action” after clicking on the video. Moving from strength to strength and gaining confidence, Jonathan is wasting no time.
This month Viewbix announced their partnership with AWeber, a global email software company, which means not only contacts and resources but a new email marketing app. Looking at all that's happened, it's obvious that Jonathan and his team are in for the long haul. But what drives them? We know how it works, we see it's doing well, but what's it all for? You don't have to look to far for the answer; “We want to build a great company. A lot of startups are focussed on getting acquired. We want to build a business that people want to work for”.
But can this really be done? I mean sure we've all seen it done (just go back to the earlier examples of Microsoft and Apple) but a whole new element of doubt sets in when you ask yourself that question. Regardless of that doubt, pressing on is what led Jonathan to this point, and it has done so in a way that nobody had envisaged. From Qoof, it was clear he wanted to do something to benefit the business world. But with Viewbix, he moved on to the startup world, to providing a service that allows startups to grow as part of his own. That is, to better connect with it's clients through the service they provide, to generate revenue and achieve their goals.
They said that they wanted to build a great company, but rather than just one, they could help build many great companies as a part of theirs. Viewbix provide a new ways of looking at startups, and that is where their greatest potential lies.