TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based social video technology platform Flixlab.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Flixlab is a company dedicated to enabling people to tell their everyday stories through video. The team is comprised of technology, video, social media and software experts from companies like Electronic Arts, Adobe, Sony, Microsoft, Audible, and Disney.
The company has spent four years in stealth mode developing a proprietary, cloud-based social video platform that enables the creation and sharing of truly great consumer social videos.
Flixlab is now launching its first consumer application of the platform: an application for the iPhone (which works with Facebook), with applications on many more platforms to soon follow.
Key people include:
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
- Tim Mott – Executive Chairman. Co-founder of Electronic Arts, Macromedia, and Audible
- David Slater – CEO. Former marketing leader from Adobe
- Jim Carrig – CTO. Former head of R&D at Sony Labs and holder of over 40 patents in video and distributed systems.
- Francois Dumas – Chief Product Officer. Expert in media-based systems, serial entrepreneur, and founder of Flixlab
- Paul Sebastien – VP Product & Marketing. Seasoned product & marketing executive in a range of entertainment technologies, and former Platinum Award-winning music producer.
Over the course of four years we’ve progressively raised a total of $6 million to fund development and launch from angels Tim Mott (EA, Macromedia, Audible) and Michael Marks (Flextronics, Audible, Crocs, Tesla, Zappos, KKR, Riverwood Capital), and various entities they control.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Even as smartphones are quickly becoming the camera of choice for most consumers, and as video clips are being captured more frequently, most video clips and pictures remain on people’s phones without being shared.
Particularly with video clips, they just end up sitting there collecting dust. In fact, according to Parks Associates All Eyes on Video (2008): "90% of consumers who shoot video on their mobile devices do nothing with it."
It is a challenge to find the time, energy, and expertise to deal with multiple clips, select the best parts, compile footage, and create a high-quality video worthy of sharing with your friends and family. And, of course, you are limited to using only what you personally shoot.
So Flixlab was created to help people finally do something with all those video clips and photos on their phones, and even access the best of what their friends have shot on their phones. Flixlab makes mobile video effortless, increasing the potency and viability of video creation, collaboration, and sharing.
Describe the business, core products and services?
With Flixlab, people can transform raw video clips and photos from their iPhone into fun, compelling stories with just a few taps and immediately share them on Facebook. Friends and family can then interact with and change these movies by "remixing them", creating their own take on a given event from the shared source video clips and pictures.
Flixlab removes the existing burdens of making movies such as wasting time learning new software, sorting through clips, editing, rendering, all of that -- allowing people to quickly and easily combine iPhone video clips and pictures with music, transitions, and text slides to automatically create great movies – all on their iPhones.
Flixlab even allows people to create "shared events" and use the video clips and pictures from those events to build movies together, using shared source clips and pictures.
However you use it, Flixlab takes the video clips and pictures you select and turn them into something far greater than the sum of its parts. With Flixlab, great stories are created & shared together.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
We’ve been fortunate to have a large cross-section of iPhone users who want to use video to tell the stories of their everyday lives. There is no average user really, other than people who tend to be avid sharers of their experiences on social networks like Facebook.
Examples include parents, teens, avid travellers, sports enthusiasts and others who have video clips and pictures on their iPhone and are enjoying Flixlab’s incredibly easy solution for creating great movies from their content in just a few taps on an iPhone.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Very much, yes; as camera-equipped phones started to become the primary camera for more and more people, given that it’s the device that’s always with you, the challenge around doing something with all of the clips and pictures taken quickly became a real pain point for more and more people… including us, our friends and families.
Flixlab’s founder and chief product officer Francois Dumas had always been frustrated and discouraged by the difficulty of making home movies. Like the vast majority of us, he never did anything with the video he shot because video editing systems are too complex and tedious for everyday movies, and the more he talked to others he discovered an enormous pent-up demand.
Being a seasoned and highly technical entrepreneur, Francois created a series of evolving prototypes to experiment along three vectors: analyse footage shot by non-professionals, predict what kinds of movies they want by collecting relevant meta-data, and then using the power of distributed computing, produce a polished movie in 5% of the time required by current systems.
Four years of steady advances in several different digital technologies along with constant user testing and refinement made it possible to organize and process video in such a way that would enable fast and easy movie creation—movie creation based on a user telling an application what kind of movie they wanted and then having the application automatically process the video to produce the movie.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Our initial market objective is to establish Flixlab as the best solution for everyday video storytelling and to become a routine part of social media sharing – just like how people share text, photos and links every day.
Upon delighting a mass of users, and understanding how to continue serving the needs of our users as the de facto solution for movie creation and sharing, we will explore the range of monetization options. As our investors are also excited by, our social video platform is uniquely able to utilize a combination of monetization models spanning freemium techniques, advertising, pay-to-publish, subscriptions, and more to generate revenue.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Flixlab has created, after several years of deep R&D, a unique, hard-to-replicate proprietary platform that solves a real (and growing) consumer pain – enabling auto-creation & sharing of great movies and their source assets, a social video platform for forming sharing connections between friends.
- World-class team of technical, product and entrepreneurial expertise, including Executive Chairman Tim Mott who co-founded Electronic Arts, Macromedia and Audible – and believes that Flixlab is his "next big thing".
- More great ideas than our team of ten can currently implement against.
- Smartphones increasingly becoming the cameras of choice, estimated one billion smartphone users in the next few years, no meaningful competition to our unique, hard-to-replicate technology platform and team.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Convincing those burned by earlier, inferior video creation products that great movie making is within their grasp.
Early on before we proved we could do what we said, there were two main reasons we heard all the time on why we would fail:
- It’s not possible to predict what people want in a movie
- Polished movies can’t be made in real-time using current technology.
The first we solved through an extensive analysis of thousands of clips regular consumers upload to the internet. We were able to discern several dozen archetypes of what people shoot and what they want as a result. For example, a baby’s first steps, new pet, several variants on birthdays, day of skiing, etc.
While we all like to think we are so different, in terms of what people shoot in home videos there is tremendous similarity, and that confined set of behaviors is something computers can be used to automate. The second was more of a science experiment; we didn’t know if we were right, we just knew if our cloud-based technology could great movies quickly we’d have solved a real customer pain, a real need out there, so we spent a few years chasing a dream -- and it paid off. And it’s getting better and better.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Our initial market objective is to establish Flixlab as the de facto solution for everyday video storytelling and to become a routine part of social media sharing – just like how people share text, photos and links every day.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.