Seedstars World hosted its ‘start-up competition’ event in San Jose in September, and they have a winner: Slidebean, which drives you to design beautiful slides for your presentations: “presentations that design themselves!” Jose Cayasso “Caya”, CEO of Slidebean, kindly answered Nicolas Bry‘s questions to let us discover Slidebean more in-depth.
1) Target, Usage
Slidebean promise is to take your content and automatically designs beautiful slides for you. Very original!
- NB: Can you give us exemplary use cases for your service?
Caya: I think that the best example would be a pitch deck for a start-up. Say you need to present to a potential investor for your company… the usual process is,
- Find out what should be on a pitch deck, so, some Google Research;
- Build a draft in PowerPoint;
- Give it to your designer if you’re lucky to have one, otherwise, find a freelancer that can do it for you;
- Review back and forth until it’s done.
The whole process takes hours of work and days to deliver, not to mention money. Slidebean takes care of this by providing a pre-built deck to use as a guide and automatic design. You can literally create a great-looking pitch deck in just a few minutes.
- NB: Who are the typical users of your service (business profiles, students, schoolboys)? What are the main benefits of your platform for them?
Caya: Our largest user base consists of start-ups, they make up around 70% of our active user base. We’ve started to approach other SMEs and are looking to expand to larger Enterprises in the upcoming months.
2) Business model & Ecosystem Marketing
- NB: How do you monetize your activity? What are the premium services composed of?
Caya: Slidebean used to be a freemium tool, but we’ve recently pivoted into a premium-only platform with a free trial. We are honoring free subscribers that have been with us for months or years, but new users need to pick a plan to continue to use Slidebean after the trial expires. Plans start at $10/mo.
- NB: How do you integrate with current tool like Power Point? Can you mix your service with corporate templates reflecting the brand of companies?
Caya: We want to move people away from PowerPoint. Traditional tools like PPT or Prezi are not efficient in the presentation building process, which results in a big waste of time. We know, of course, this is a big challenge, but once we onboard a user in this new approach they end up staying for a lot longer, because they truly understand the value and benefit of what we provide.
Companies can customize their Slidebean templates with the tools we provided, and larger companies have direct contact to our design team so that they can ensure that their decks follow the right guidelines. We also allow PowerPoint exports that we know are necessary in certain occasions.
- NB: What is your geographic target market? How do you plan to market your platform to the rest of the world, and develop an ecosystem?
Caya: We’ve been focusing in the US mainly because it’s a market we understand, and because we’ve come up with a few profitable and scalable acquisition channels. We’ve started to adapt and replicate some of those models in Latin America, and are slowly moving into Asia and Europe.
Google Searches like ‘pitch deck builder’ are ideal, because they focus on our start-up market. We’ve seen success with that Google Search campaign worldwide (you can probably see it in Switzerland if you Google it).
3) Competition & Environment
Caya: We do compete with them indirectly. Most presentation tools available today are built for people that have the time and the skills to create high-end presentations, users that need 100% control over the size of each box and the color of each line. We don’t target them.
We target users who are not design experts, who value their time and who need to build presentations on a regular basis. More so, our new Presentation Insights feature lets them track the activity of whoever they shared their presentations with, making it an ideal tool for sales representatives.
- NB: How do you position toward with Office and Open Office editing tools?
Caya: Compared to Office, Slidebean is a premium product. We don’t believe it’s wise to compete head to head with Microsoft at this point, so we’ve built an initially niche product that works perfectly for one specific set of users (start-ups, small businesses). These are users who are also willing to pay the premium price that Slidebean has compared to Office, because added design value and the time efficiency is valuable for them.
- NB: Tell us about your team, who you are, where you’re from, what are your skills, how you met, and what is your mantra? Send us a picture of your team!
Caya: The core founding team is a group of 3 Costa Ricans; we all share a background in visual design. Two of us went through Elementary and High School together, and we started recruiting the other team members a couple years ago. Since launch, we’ve expanded the team to 7 people, and we continue to hire talent every month. Here’s the latest photo:
- NB: What would you describe as a success for your venture?
We are looking to impact as much people as we can with our innovative approach to presentations. As many start-ups, an acquisition by a larger company is an ideal scenario for our exit, but our long-term dream is that our technology, design focus and overall approach to slide-creation become the new standard for visual presentations. We want both audiences and speakers to enjoy a much more pleasant experience when building or consuming slide presentations, and we believe Slidebean can become that in a few years.