These days, if you are starting a Web 2.0 business, or really any kind of online business, chances are you would benefit from having some sort of explanatory demo video as one of the first things potential customers see.
Agustin De Marco realized this when he began his last startup in Argentina. But when he went to hire someone, he was shocked by the amount of money a good demo video cost. A fairly technical guy, he sat down to figure out how to make one himself, and even he was surprised by how hard it was.
At moments like this, new businesses are conceived.
His painful video-making experience gave him the idea for his current startup, Wideoo (pronounced wid-ee-oh): WYSIWYG demo video production. I talked with Agustin on Skype from San Francisco last week about his experience creating the business and how Wideoo works, as well as why he has decided to leave Argentina.
Although it’s currently in private beta, Agustin was kind enough to give me a guided tour of how Wideoo works. Essentially, users can pick and choose elements, place them, animate them, and include text and music with the video. Using my screen, Agustin walked me through the user interface, which is quite intuitive, and showed me how to make a cute animation of a man hopping from left to right along the screen.
While Wideoo is easy to understand, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a learning curve of sorts. Any tool that strives to be full-featured is bound to be more complex than a more basic tool, and that is the case with Wideoo, too. Because Wideoo wants to give users the ability to move objects in 3D along whatever axis the user wants, there is a sophisticated system of rotation and markers to direct objects on the screen. You can also record voice-overs using the Web interface, though to be honest if I wanted to do it right, I would use more professional audio equipment than is found on your average iMac.
It takes a bit of practice, but when you consider the alternative — pick your professional animation tool — it’s much less daunting. You aren’t going to be making any Toy Story sequels, but it’s more than enough to produce a decent 2-minute demo video.
Wideoo started as a two-person venture but it now has another full-time developer, as well as a part-time CTO/advisor and another person doing Google ads part time. He’s looking for another developer, but probably not from Argentina. I asked him why.
Agustin highlighted a number of significant differences between Silicon Valley and his native Argentina that are compelling him to make the move North. Foremost among these was the sense of community and risk tolerance in Silicon Valley compared to Argentina.
Additionally, the “rules” in Silicon Valley are clearer and simpler. For instance, he noted, in Argentina he literally can’t buy US dollars — if an investor was to put money into his company in Argentina, he could only pay the investor back in Argentine pesos, or set up a complex holding company, at the additional legal expense that suggests.
A professor of entrepreneurship himself, Agustin believes that his colleagues in Latin America should try to think more globally — to come up with technology businesses with applications that transcend regions like Latin America. This is another driving factor in his decision to move to Silicon Valley. That and money.
Agustin and his partners will be looking for a significant amount of money going forward — in the low millions — and he explains that the investor base in Argentina isn’t accustomed to coming up with sums this large as venture capital. His experience with Silicon Valley so far is that it’s easier to find investors. Agustin says he knew from the beginning that these factors would eventually lead to his moving to California.
Wideoo isn’t the only company in this space, it appears. Spanish startup VideoLean, from Motion4Startups, as well as Powtoon and at some level Animoto, are gunning for the same space as Wideoo. On the bright side, that suggests this is an underserved market segment.
Let the Wideoos begin.