Our interview with Weavly Co-Founder & CEO Oliver Lukesch!

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weavlyLogoRecently we managed to catch up with Weavly Co-Founder & CEO, Oliver Lukesch. During the interview, Oliver introduces us to Weavly while sharing advice abut the business plan process and applying to an accelerator program. Weavly is a graduate of the Startupbootcamp accelerator program.

What is Weavly all about?

Weavly is an incredibly easy to use online video editor with a twist. You can use it for creating mashups and video remixes with all the media that is already online – clips from YouTube, tracks from SoundCloud and even animated GIFs from Tumblr, Imgur and Loopcam. And you don’t have to worry about uploads, downloads or legal issues.

How did you come up with the idea for Weavly?

The foundation for Weavly was laid while working on a project for university. I wanted to create an interactive movie and give people the possibility to influence how the narration should progress. For example, they should be able to decide if the main character goes through a door or passes it by. Based on their decision, a different chain of video clips was triggered. As I wanted the project to be as accessible as possible, I hosted the different parts of the story on YouTube and build a simple JavaScript application to interactively connect them.

Working on this project gave me a lot of insights into the YouTube API and led me to the idea that it should be possible to create a whole video editor based on the APIs of portals like YouTube, SoundCloud and Vimeo. As I’ve created mashups and video remixes before and knew that finding good footage was as complicated as the tools you had for editing, I immediately felt that this might be a problem worth solving.

What were some of the challenges that you faced starting a company?

Weavly is a very consumer oriented product. There are a lot of possible revenue streams but they are not as obvious at you might expect from a B2B product, you have to think yourself into the project to see them. Therefore, convincing people that we’re onto something was quite a task, especially in Europe.

However, most of the conversations with other people – friends, mentors and investors – radically changed once we had our first beta out. People saw that we’ve built a fun and easy to use product and that we’ve given them a solution for something they’ve always wanted to do.

Apart from that, building the right team was quite a challenge. Everybody loves the idea of working on a startup but just a few people have the guts, the ability and the focus to pull it through. Finding them is one of the hardest tasks and although we’re still a young company, we already had our share of bad experiences in this direction. We hope we’ve learned from them.

You took part in the Startupbootcamp accelerator program, what difference do you feel being part of an accelerator made to your company?

There is the obvious part – we gained a lot of know-how and got the chance to be part of a great network. All the conversations and discussions we had with the Startupbootcamp mentors and members of the other teams helped us focus, got us out of the building and shaped our product in many different ways.

However, the recognition and exposure you get is equally as important. You’re no longer a team of nobodies working on a crazy project. You’ve got the name of trustworthy entity behind you and more importantly, it was the accelerator who chose you and not the other way round. Although it’s all about metrics and numbers in the end, and being part of an accelerator program opens a lot of doors, especially doors in the minds of people.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to an entrepreneur looking to get their company into an accelerator program and why?

#1: Have some sort of prototype or MVP ready. Show that you’re not only able to think of good stuff but that there is a huge need out there and you are able to satisfy it. And be creative – a prototype or MVP can have many different forms, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a working demo or piece of hardware.

#2: Be honest. If you’re already an expert in the space you’re trying to get in, use the knowledge and brag with it. If not, than say openly that there are still some questions you need answers. Either way, keep the level of bullshit as low as possible.

#3: Have a great and balanced team. Easier said than done as there is no golden recipe for building one.

What advice would you like to give to an entrepreneur thinking about writing their first business plan?

Writing a x-paged business plan should be one of the last steps for setting up your business. Your first steps should be to identify a problem, validate that it really exists, think about a great solution and talk to other people about the things you’ve come up with. Ignore people who say you should be as secretive with your business idea as possible because it’s all about execution in the end.

Only when you know that you’re onto something real, you can start drafting a business model canvas and think about how your stream of revenue might look like and how you’d like to set up your company. Sometimes – and to be honest, I haven’t come across a startup the following statement doesn’t apply to – a business model canvas is more than enough. As your plans definitely will change while you’re working on your project, planing it in detail before you’ve even started working on it may be a waste of your time.

A massive thank you to Oliver for taking the time out of his busy schedule to put down some awesome answers to our questions. We look forward to catching back up with Weavly. You can also follow Weavly on twitter!

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