We’re pleased to announce that VipeCloud recently joined StartX as one of our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, and we’re glad that Adam Peterson, the founder and CEO of VipeCloud is sharing his story with us.
What inspired the idea of VipeCloud?
When operating VipePower, a niche business in the video space for the past few years, we observed that a lot more people view videos than create videos for use in business. Also, for the most part, the only people inside an organization who manage video players like YouTube and Brightcove are marketers and IT professionals. There was a large group of people who lived between the creators and the viewers who were not being targeted by any existing platform, and were actively looking for engaging content to distribute. A great example of this is a sales person looking to engage a customer. There is also no way for a marketer to measure the impact of their video.
Based on these findings we identified a large opportunity: to create an offering that caters to sales people through a bottom-up approach, and to wrap the use of video into a business process that helps sales people discover, share, and measure the impact of their videos. It turns out that helping sales people discover relevant videos is a win-win for all involved – the creator of the business-relevant video whose video was discovered, the sales person, and the end-viewer who was provided the relevant video.
How did you build your founding team and what criteria did you use?
The VipeCloud founding team is the same team that got the niche business, VipePower, off the ground. We knew we worked well together, we all had experience in the video space, and each person brought something unique and valuable to the team. As a young entrepreneur trying to build a video application targeting a niche industry of staffing & recruiting I desperately needed three things: a software developer, credibility, and cash to make it all happen. I then worked to get as specific as possible about the details of what I needed, and basically told the world what I was looking for. As a result, I relatively quickly had an advisor, Robin, with a career’s worth of experience in the industry I was targeting, and a developer, Eli, who could work the entire stack and was willing to put together a deferred payment agreement. Working my network again, I was able to pull together some friend and family money from angels – angels who I realize today as we evolved the business, invested in me and not the business.
My advisor introduced me to Amalia whom he had worked with before at multiple different companies. She became a key asset for shaping the product, getting customers up and running, and providing feedback from the customers into our roadmap.
I needed someone from the enterprise software world to help truly scale the business so I set out to find an enterprise software guru. It happened that I ran into a family friend who has 35+ years of experience in enterprise software, was formerly the Director of the Direct Marketing Division at Oracle and had experience with 20 or so different startups in one capacity or another.. Byron started as an advisor but proved to be helpful in so many areas that we gave him a title, a bigger chunk of the company, and brought on him full time. With that, the founding team was ready to change the world of business video.
How did you finance VipeCloud?
Every company seems to have a unique financing story when you dig into the details. VipeCloud is proving to have its own special story that dates back to VipePower. VipePower was funded with convertible notes and warrants from friends and family angel-investors. While the business was self-sufficient, it proved not scalable enough to either attract institutional investment or satisfy the drive of the founding team.
As a result, when the idea for VipeCloud was conceived, we decided to use the revenue from VipePower to build VipeCloud rather than continue to develop VipePower. As we near the launch of VipeCloud, we are attracting additional financing from existing investors, new angel investors, and also building relationships with institutional investors to build on as we reach future milestones.
What were the biggest challenges you’ve faced in generating interest in your company?
Bringing a product to market successfully is the single biggest challenge of software companies today as few question your ability to actually develop the application. A major challenge I faced in generating interest in my company stemmed from my ability to understand and evaluate the size of the market in which I was operating – and as a result, get a large universe of people excited about what I was up to.
When I first launched VipePower, I had just come out of investment banking, had little to no experience working in my target industry, and was building a software application for a relatively new technology – online video – to bring to a target audience not known for being first adopters. I did what I could to build my credibility by pulling a team with industry experience together and diving headfirst into the industry itself. That meant getting involved with industry associations at the board level. I generated a LOT of interest in my company and many would say VipePower is the best known video brand in the staffing and recruiting industry.
That said, the industry itself was holding me back. My business simply never would be large enough if we limited ourselves to staffing and recruiting alone. So we had to broaden our reach. But how do we do that if the product and team I built revolved around this industry? It turned out luck was on our side. While we built our little niche business, we witnessed a lot of video companies try and fail. We watched as online video evolved from an early adopter technology into a utility. And we were tuned into the broader needs for video across all businesses – enough to start to see a major opportunity before us.
The team came together and leveraged our experiences with VipePower and our perspectives unique to our skillsets. VipeCloud was born. Furthermore, credibility was now a strength as I proved I could lead a team through a bad recession, never let our cash balance drop below zero, and required no additional investment along the way – all while living and breathing business video.
That brings us to today, a whirlwind as momentum builds for us. We are in the last mile of product development. I joined StartX – Stanford’s Student Startup Accelerator as an EIR. And we are getting the attention of existing and potential investors. By and large, a much broader audience than VipePower ever attracted is beginning to show interest in VipeCloud. We invite your readers who want to learn more about using video in the sales business process to sign up for our free private beta at http://www.vipecloud.com.