From that conundrum came an idea for an app that could prompt the interviewer with questions and then film the response. It could allow anyone in the family to contribute questions from anywhere in the world, which someone could ask Barnett's father whenever there was an opportunity, he said.
Before starting Vimily, Barnett worked in London as an industrial design consultant and a photographic artist. Looking to grow his career, he moved to Australia to get an MBA degree and find a business partner to develop the Vimily startup.
In Sydney, Barnett met Katrin Suess, now the company's chief technology officer, who already had many startup credits including web design for 99dresses and user interface design for Blue Chilli Technology.
Barnett and Suess each bootstrapped the company with a combined $60,000 at the start, and then raised an additional $230,000 from angel investors.
Pivoting to B2B
Vimily launched Vimily as a paid app in December but it didn't receive many downloads from consumers. "It was too early for consumers and video," said Barnett.
However, the company soon found that public relations firms and other corporates were interested in using the technology for marketing and publicity. Vimily came up with a new white-label model in which corporations could pay to put their brands on videos created by the app.
"The one thing [corporates] needed which we didn't originally have was a way to publish that, so we pulled the whole team in for a weekend-lots of coffee, lots of cookies-and basically came out with a Facebook share mechanism for those videos."
The new business focus was a success, and by New Year's Day-three weeks after launch-Vimily decided to pivot the whole business.The startup now has about 20 paying business customers and is starting to make revenue.
Vimily hopes to raise another $600,000 in funding so it can expand the staff from its current number of four full-time employees, said Barnett. Meanwhile, the startup is expanding focus from corporate events to marketing campaigns and market research, he said.
"The data side of it is where you get longevity," said Barnett. He noted the app's ability to collect information about the people being interviewed potentially for use as a business lead. The app is currently available only for Apple iOS devices, because it gives Vimily more control over the video and audio quality, he said. However, the startup is now working on an Android version to keep competitive, he said. It might do a Windows Phone version in the future, but probably not BlackBerry, he said. A Google Glass app could be in the company's future. "That would be great to have people take video as they're going around," said Barnett, adding that he's found that the bigger and more professional the filming device, the less people want to be interviewed. Google Glass could be the least intimidating way to interview yet, he said.
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