A lot of marketers these days talk about the importance of a good story. Be it copy, videos or any other format, storytelling is becoming a huge trend across the world. Before this bit was realized, very few product videos used to be creative and inspiring while a large majority of them were just plain boring. Now, it is imperative for startups as well as other types of businesses to embrace storytelling in order to capture their audience.
How could someone go about doing that? For a startup or an SMB, storytelling in the form of a product video would not be an innate skill. In order to produce a good video, they would definitely have to shell a good amount of cash and hire the professionals. This could be a problem for startups and cash strapped businesses.
How then does one go ahead and create a good story?
This is where StoryXpress comes in. A startup founded by recent graduates of IIT Hyderabad, StoryXpress is a cloud based video creation service which has been designed to get anyone to create their own video for the web. Their video creation API lets businesses and websites use images and put them together in a video. This has practical applications for online businesses such as e-commerce websites, listing websites and content aggregators/portals.
However, since use cases are different for the different websites, the StoryXpress team works closely with such websites to create specific templates for them. This makes the implementation unique for each of them. This B2B approach seems promising because there are many image based Indian websites which could benefit from custom made video templates. They have decided to focus mainly on this aspect of the business for the months to come.
StoryXpress also has a B2C version of their service, which targets general users and small companies. It is a cloud based video creation tool which can be accessed from StoryXpress’ website. At the moment, the startup is not accepting any registrations but they will be opening it up soon enough after they address early adopter feedback.
Here are some videos which were made using StoryXpress:
So how did StoryXpress come about?
Ankit Mishra, one of the co-founders says, “They ran into this adventure when their professor gave them an assignment in the Multimedia Communications class at IIT Hyderabad.” Ankit and his friends (Team StoryXpress in the top most pic. L-R: Mudit Tanwani, Rijul Bansal, Sanyam Kapoor, Ankit Mishra, Chinmay Jindal) decided to make a mobile app which could take images and text as input and then spit out a video.
After creating this app, they realized that their project could end up being a service which could let many people tell their own stories. With this insight, they decided to startup when they were in college itself. They already had a prototype and all they had to do now was to figure out a way in which they could develop it into a real product which would create value in the market.
Their initial research validated their assumptions. They realized that many Indian and foreign SMBs simply do not comprehend the power of storytelling done right. Like I wrote before, the prohibitive cost of making a cool video is one big factor. This makes them miss out on the big potential of video marketing, something that is taking off like crazy across the world due to the presence of powerful platforms like YouTube. They also realized that around half the users feel more confident about buying a product online after they watch a video about it. Thus videos, if done right can bring about both – traffic and user interaction.
With these results coming out from their initial survey, they felt confident about the need for their product in the market. So they got right down to building it. Since they had very little experience in running a company, they had to learn new things and also unlearn a lot of stuff.
Their biggest challenge seemed to be managing their academic programme along with their startup. Convincing their near and dear ones about not going the normal safe route has been quite a challenge, they say. When it comes to the product, the team feels that constantly listening to user feedback has made quite an impact on product development.
Talking to their customers and getting valuable feedback has helped them build a product which they believe will create value for many companies. They have already integrated their API with NowFloats, a startup which wants to bring more Indian small businesses online. Through this partnership, StoryXpress has access to many other small businesses which could see value in creating their own product videos. The team is currently working on building such valuable partnerships across the country.
In the coming months, they will be refining their API for both Indian and foreign clients. They will also look at tying up with advertising and distribution platforms to promote the B2C video creation tool. Their next feature will be the addition of analytics so that users can accurately track various performance metrics about their video.
There seems to be so much left to do and that is the beauty of working in a startup – there is always something you can do. Their journey has been quite an adventure already and they haven’t even reached the best part yet! For a bootstrapped company, they have done pretty well so far in terms of their product. (Note: Ankit recommends Microsoft’s BizSpark program to all those out there who are bootstrapping). They plan to raise seed capital in the next few months and are already talking to potential investors and receiving some good response.
We hope that their story turns out to be a great one!