Videobolt is an online video maker and video editing platform that allows amateurs and professionals to create, customize, brand and personalize professionally designed animations. In this interview I talk to Olga Mirković Maksimović, the COO of this fast growing startup about the story behind this business success.
Agnieszka Węglarz: Olga, you are getting new traction and your results are boosting from what I heard recently. Can you share with us some details of this success? What is the scale and pace of this increase?
Olga: In the middle of May we released a brand new redesign of Videobolt.net. We have repackaged the existing technological solution into a solution that is much closer to our target groups. We took care of the user experience, buyers persona, communication on the site, how to search and discover new templates, and in addition we made sure that everything was mobile friendly, including our video editor – and that is what sets ours apart from the competition.
Thanks to all of that, we saw a significant increase in income in the first two weeks after the launch of the new site. Already in the first month, we broke the record in income and we continued to grow the following month (15% MoM). During June we broke the record in number of registered users (28% MoM). Significant progress has also been made on page speed (desktop version is all in green) and Google organic search positions.
AW: Let me come back shortly to the beginnings of your startup. When was it founded? and where did the initial idea come from? We keep on saying that new product ideas should come from the observation of unsold problems. So what was the problem that you wanted to solve at the beginning?
OMM: Combining blockbuster film experience with coding and user experience excellence, Momcilo, Ugljesa and Igor founded Videobolt.net. They were driven by the goal of lowering the entry barrier for video-creation and by focusing on automating the video creation process. They wanted to ensure that everyone can create videos easily – and that’s how the Videobolt platform was born in 2016.
Videobolt was initially bootstrapped. In 2017 Videobolt team joined the ABC accelerator program to bring business and marketing skills to the tool set. Steady growth across all key metrics led to raising a seed round investment from SC Ventures. As the platform grew massively, in 2021, Videobolt welcomed Natan Nikolich as our advisor in product design.
AW: What was the initial solution? How was it working?
OMM: The first solution had a modest template library in terms of numbers, but premium in terms of quality and we had a video editor with all basic functionalities for customizing the templates.
AW: What was your initial business model behind this first offer?
OMM: The first business model was not subscription based – users were paying for video per template. They bought a template and then customized it in our editor, and of course downloaded video for further use. Soon after release the founders figured out that product is not enough to start earning money. They needed to rethink business models, marketing, customer service and Ops.
AW: What were your biggest challenges at the very beginning? What areas of your business model were especially vulnerable? How did you tackle them?
OMM: The first shock was the fact that the product is not enough and that just launching the platform online will not bring much money. The developers and creatives who made up the initial lineup of employees had to be reinforced with people in charge of marketing and customer support.
It quickly became clear that developing a technologically superior product would require more first-class developers – so the first task was to bring such people into the team.
AW: How big was your initial team? and what functions did you have at the beginning?
OMM: First team consisted of three founders and then a couple more people in marketing and customer care. Soon after the first MVP release they figured out they needed business and marketing to think about pricing and differentiation. That is why they joined the ABC accelerator program – to bring business and marketing skills to the tool set. After the program, they started changing the pricing list, moved to a subscription based model and started earning.
Videobolt faced the first challenges when they needed to expand the team in areas like business and marketing. Our SC Ventures investors were of great help, connecting me with the Videobolt funders and team. We clicked so I joined the Videobolt team with the aim to add more business skills and different point of views, and off course to scale the business.
AW: Your platform underwent a major change recently. At the same time you and your team were working on improving your business model. Why did you feel that you needed to have a closer look at it?
OMM: Market product fit is very important before scaling the solution. Videobolt started with two solutions: music visualizers (fit for the music industry) and intros – which solves the problem of branding.
Following the needs of users, we realized that this is not all they need and that we have specific groups of users with their own specific needs. These needs are reflected in two important segments: the type of template they need and the editor options they need.
Future growth essentially depends on how we meet their needs and how we communicate with them. We have become aware of the fact that we’ve been especially growing in the SME’s segment and that we need to adapt our communication to that segment.
AW: What were the areas of key improvements?
OMM: Key improvements are in these segments:
– Videobolt editor optimized for Mobile and Tablets – everything you can do on desktop, you can now do on mobile and tablets. This is a huge competitive advantage – our biggest competitors have an editor available only on the desktop version
– 17.000+ Template themes & media variations created to fit the most used industries.
– More powerful Media Library with unlimited storage. Users can organise all of their video assets in one place.
– Millions of stock images and videos added through Pexels, Unsplash and Pixabay.
AW: What are the benefits of using a methodical approach to business model? In what way does it help to improve your business and your decisions?
OMM: It is always good to look at the big picture and invest time and energy to look at the product from different angles. Methodical approach gives us direction and puts lights on all edges and curves that we need to make smooth. Sometimes it is hard to put structure in start-up business especially when structure is not part of the culture, but when you implement it step by step, it gives results.
AW: Olga, your business model is entirely digital. How to build the structure of a digital startup? Which IT competencies are crucial in such a structure? and which business competences are a must?
OMM: One of Videobolt co-founders – Ugljesa won medals in international informatics and physics competitions. From the beginning he chose a solution that can be scaled. The main thing is in-depth knowledge of infrastructure possibilities on one side and understanding of business on the other hand.
AW: Last but not least: what would you advise startups at the beginning of their road? Where can they most often fail and how should they avoid it?
OMM: Passion and love – that is necessary for the start. If there is no love and passion, everything else will fall apart. In turbulent times love is like glue – it keeps teams together. Also, it is important to bring new team members with new skill sets and make the team like a puzzle. They must be different but make one big picture complete. Always be in touch with your clients or customers, at the end of the day you build a product for them. Listen smartly to their needs and embrace the data that comes from business. Analyze them and put light on every business problem that you have.
AW: Olga, thank you very much for the interview. I’m wishing your team further growth and ongoing passion for what you do.
Agnieszka Węglarz is an independent consultant, business strategist and practitioner in B2B and B2C, as well as lecturer, speaker and blogger. She has over 20 years of professional experience working as manager in both large corporations and SMEs, where she was responsible for strategy, marketing and business development. She uses her long term executive experience and training expertise to assist companies and their managers in building their business strategy using a workshop methodology. She specializes in business modeling, segmentation, value proposition, sales and marketing strategies as well as consultative selling. She runs her own consultancy business, as well as cooperates with Google for Startups Campus in Warsaw as the leading expert in Business Model Mastering – a Program for European startups providing founders and their teams with a structured approach to run their company and accelerate their growth. Agnieszka is an author of many business publications. You can read her writing on her business blog on www.agnieszkaweglarz.com. You can contact her by writing to: email@example.com or directly by sending a message via LinkedIN
Olga Mirković Maksimović, COO of Videobolt: She has over 15 years of experience in developing business in some of the most successful Serbia classifieds and transactional businesses (e-learning platform, Limundo.com and Kupindo.com), previous new business director at Ringier Axel Springer Serbia. Mathematician by formal education, in everyday business she turns words into action and looks for ways to solve problems and not excuses. She is phd candidate in field off AI (history and philosophy of natural sciences and technology)