Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Curious Business: VideoClix + Exclusive Interview

Ever watch a movie and wonder who that guy is or what kind of car he is driving? The magic of videoclix brings interactive videos to the web user. Click on that car, actor or shirt and now you know what it is. I like this business for so many reasons:

1) It gives advertisers a non-intrusive way of advertising.

2) Advertising dollars can get a-lot more mileage. Because no matter what it is, people like interaction, people like being part of something.

3) Companies are able to integrate more of a back-story and add more depth into their videos – (love this, in my opinion this will help develop stronger consumer loyalties when the stories are strong)

3)It allows the user to watch something and out of sheer curiosity click on something. I don’t know how many times I have watched a video and then decided to look up a reference to something, or find out who someone is. This gives the curious user the choice to look at a shirt, find out the brand and what type of shirt it is and later do their own independent research. It gives the viewer a chance to learn a little more about the story of a product. And perhaps fall in love with something they would of never known about before.

4) It’s smart, innovative and classy.

Audi r8Beautiful Dress

I had a chance to interview founder and Ceo Babak Maghfourian and here is what I found out.

Why did you choose to start your own business?  I think it was because my father who was a judge and disillusioned by the judicial system in his country, became a businessman creating companies in many industries. I always admired his success. 

How did you get started? How have past experiences enabled you to think “interactive advertising?” Prior to VideoClix I had two other companies, one of which I developed educational interactive video programs for University of Victoria.

What is essential to your success in building Videoclix?
Persistence. I started VideoClix in 1998 when people didn’t watch videos online. Broadband wasn’t even available. Content was all in analog format.
Year after year we’re seeing more success as all the elements are now in place.  Broadband, mobile, digital content, ad networks, trends and habits of viewers, faster CPUs and GPUs..etc.

What is the mission statement and target audience for VideoClix?
Mission statement:  To turn Video into the interface of tomorrow.
Target audience: Web viewers

When starting your business and locating investors, did the idea click with investors right away? How long before it did? What did your pitch look like?
The idea clicked but with smaller angel investors like friends and family at first.
When YouTube sold for 1.5 billion it clicked with everyone.
My pitch was a well designed website with many live projects we had executed with large brands (like Honda, Levi’s, Jonas brothers..etc) as well as a 50 page business proposal that outlined everything from Technology development, marketing, financials, roadmap...etc.
The website also had 11,000 licenses of the authoring software which was also distributed by Apple computers.

What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur? I love what I do. But I never got to marry and have kids. Never seemed like I had enough time for both.

What have you learned so far in this job?                                                                                  Timing is everything.... And timing can sometimes catch up to you.

How long did it take to make profits?
By 2002 we were profitable as a small company.  Then in 2007 through the massive investment injection the burn rate was vastly increased. We’re reaching profitability again this year but at a much higher scale.

For the budding entrepreneurs of the world what would you tell them?
Here are some true clich├ęs:
Make sure your idea is novel and in demand.
The idea is only 1% - execution and perseverance is the other 99%
Learn to form partnerships. You can’t build everything yourself.
Put your product out there as soon as possible. Let the market define it. (some try to perfect it, then release it. That’s a mistake)
Think globally, act locally.
When you talk to investors do your homework first. (Don’t be the guy who shows up on American idol and makes a fool out of himself)

Have you ever been scared?
Yes. There was a time when we couldn’t make payroll in 2004 (before Youtube even existed).

I thought the whole thing was going to collapse.
I found out the earth kept on turning. If the idea is sound things will turn around.

Do you ever wake up and say, "What am I doing here?"
It’s exactly the opposite every morning.

What gets you up in the morning?
About 30 to 60 unanswered business emails.

What’s your definition of victory?
Recognition in the invention and advancements we’ve made.
I’ve also won many smaller battles:
Like getting the project off the ground.
Getting angel investors.
Partnering with Apple
Getting a multimillion dollar round closed (this was a separate war by itself that took 7 years)
Hiring the right team.
Closing deals with companies like Viacom, Disney, MTV, ESPN, ABC, Kraft and Playboy
Reaching some personal financial goals

What are you most curious about?
Same as most people: Our universe. What we’re doing on this planet.  And If we’re going to execute the next 20 years right for our civilization to have longevity.

There are a lot of inventions in the recent years that can help us reverse some of the adverse effects humans have created. Will we put them to good use, in time? Can humans change their habits and course of action? Correcting our mistakes isn’t like using a computer and then having to do without a computer.  It’s simply like switching from one operating system to a better operating system.  Some believe we have to go back in time to make things better again. I’m of the opinion we can move forward but plan ahead better before moving forward.

When Ford created the Model T he didn’t think for one second that cars would be considered green house gas manufacturing plants all over the globe. Science fiction writers now write about Terra forming (changing the atmosphere of a planet to suit humans) Yet here on earth we’re un-terra forming. And this is simply baffling to me.
Large corporations need to respect their fiduciary duties to the public and not simply look at profitability and mass production. I’m curious to see how we’re going to change this.


Got any questions you want me to ask in future interviews? Let me know.