Sometime in spring 2014 two guys from New York Romain and Julian, decided to start their own business. Both being sports fans, it was logical to create a video platform where people would upload their sports recordings. And the idea about Nivo was born.
Since Julian and Romain are business guys, they needed a development team to create the video sharing platform for them. Luckily, they have met Simple Task. So, Simple Task have become Nivo’s tech division and a group of friends who have helped Romain and Julian to build the next big thing on the web.
We have talked about Nivo and their relationship with Simple Task with Romain, and here’s what he has to say.
Hi Romain! So, how have you started Nivo?
Well, let’s start from the beginning. After graduating in the Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, I have worked in New York for three and a half years for Boston Consulting Group. I have been working on many different projects, with many smart people. It was a great experience. But after a while, I got tired of working for somebody else, on projects that I was not choosing. On top of that, most projects were very demanding in terms of quality and the hours that we were putting. So, I’ve decided that if I were going to put this type of commitment I’d be better of investing in myself and my project. At that point, my best friend Julian was also in a situation when he was switching job and career, and we decided that it’s just the right time to do it. We wanted to get into this adventure together. It was perfect timing because we both wanted something exciting.
So, you sat one day and said: “Let’s make a platform where you can upload videos of your spots adventures”?
Yes I wanted to work on my own thing but I didn’t have the idea. Fortunately, Julian did. In the beginning, the idea was to create a social platform for teenagers about sports. That was our concept. I love sports, and he loved sports and seemed great. I could picture myself recording sports stuff that I do and share it. So, we thought about the concept for quite some time. When we had the idea nailed down and ironed out I’ve decided to quit my job, Julian decided to be there full time as well, and we launch it.
That’s great story. How long are you working on this project? Are you happy with the progress that Nivo is making?
We made the first steps in April 2014 – we got the prototype ready, got finances and the team, and got started. The long story short, Nivo is on the App Store since March 2015. It took us eleven months to cross the road from the idea to the market. We’ve been on the market for five months now. We are happy with the product and functionalities that it has. From the first version of Nivo to the version where we are today, it’s a whole different app. It looks much much better. So, in terms of product we are really happy, and in terms user acquisition we can always do better. We have prepared a few great things for the summer. One of them is big Summer Video Competition. We hope that this campaign will help us expand our user base. The great thing about our users is that they are very active and very engaged. We could say that people who know us, they love us, but not enough people know us yet.
Your time is coming. Is there any specific sport that you are promoting on Nivo? There are mainly videos of extreme sports. Is this your target area?
Nivo is open to every sport, but it is more suitable for visually appealing sports. Our users are mostly posting videos of the individual performance of street sports. We have freestyle soccer; we have basketball; videos from skate parks with people jumping around.
It seems that you have discovered entirely new sports scene with your app. Street sports and extreme sports are mainstream on the street, but they are not present in media.
Yes, exactly. Nivo videos are usually about the individual performance. That can be snowboarding, or BMX riding, or surfing, or whatever else. One might say that you can see such videos on YouTube, but the difference is that it’s hard to find them. YouTube is great, but it’s not that good on mobile and we are mobile native. There is a big difference in a way that people are consuming videos today – they do it on their mobile phones. Our second advantage over YouTube is specialized vertical – sports. On YouTube, you can find the first video but the next can be some weird suggestion, not related to your search. On Nivo, you select your channel, skateboarding for example, and you have a bunch of cool videos just for skateboarding. In general, we are offering much better user experience to the audience.
There are many opportunities here. I can imagine you organizing Street Olympic Games or something like that.
It’s funny that you said that. A few weeks ago we presented the project to a very senior guy at Disney. He watched the teaser for our Summer Video Competition, and he was extremely excited. He sent six emails in a row to our mutual friend, saying “This is great! This application could be the Olympic Game of the 21st century, without a stadium, on mobile”. If you think that Uber is the biggest taxi company, and they don’t have cabs; Airbnb is the biggest hotel company, and they don’t have any hotels or rooms; we could be the biggest sports competition in the world, without any stadiums. That’s what we are trying to do. Nivo is open to everybody, to all sports, all ages, from everywhere, at the same time.
What is your biggest success with Nivo, so far?
I think it’s one – identifying an opportunity and finding a niche – sports based video for teenagers. There is nothing like this around. Two – creating the product with a strong identity and powerful DNA. And three – building reliable team (technical team in Simple Task, the founding team, and some other people working with us back home). All of them are very excited and very committed to Nivo. These are the three things that make our biggest success, so far.
That’s an excellent foundation. How did you meet Simple Task team?
The best things are often random, so this was as well. We had a contact in New York, and it turned out that he is one of the partners in Simple Task (it was Jean). We had to start Nivo application from scratch, and they were very keen to help us. The team has started very quickly and built us something that was the bare minimum, enough to get us started. The flexibility they provided was really important for us. Thanks to their work, we were able to create the prototype very quickly. It led us to funds and we got started. It was a signal for us to say: “OK, let’s continue, let’s get the work done.” Twelve months later here we are!
What would you say is the highest value that Simple Task is providing you?
They were excellent start partners for us. When you are starting a company, you often have big appetites. At that point, it’s good to have someone who will tell you “You know, I think we should start with this, it is a good first step. From here, you can grow in that direction, and that’s going to be flexible enough.” Guys from Simple Task said that to us. It turned out that they are right thought partners, not only in technical terms but also in planning and setting milestones. The highest value that Simple Task is giving us is the flexibility. With them, our technical cost is a variable, not fixed cost. Meaning that whenever we need Simple Task team they are here. Even if we have a long-term agreement, it’s cheaper arrangement for us than it would be to have to pay someone a full time in NY. That would be quite an expensive for such a small company. So, I must say that this outsourcing model worked quite well for us.
What would you say to a friend if he would ask you about Simple Task?
I have already recommended Simple Task to a couple of friends! I’d say that it is a right balance between an experienced team and affordable talent. I think it’s a good compromise with people who are dedicated, talented, have relevant experience, for a reasonable price. “Hey man, you have the opportunity to work with an experienced team for a half of the price that you would in NY” this is what I would say