Founded by IIT Hyderabad students, StoryXpress API is automating video creation for SMBs
YouTube is bigger than Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com and AOL combined. Many entrepreneurs don’t realize that YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google. It is 50 times easier to end up on the front page search result when you use video on your page. Another research by internet RETAILER says that 52% of consumers feel watching product videos make them more confident in their online purchase decisions.
This shows that videos not only drive traffic to a website but also increase user interaction. It is this premise that got students at IIT Hyderabad came together to co-found StoryXpress. They are going after the market segment which cannot afford professional videographers. The API is targeted at clients who need to make a large number of videos and would find the manual process too slow. Now a user doesn’t have to be creatively involved. He/she can outsource all the pain of planning the video, figuring out the story, transitions and animations to StoryXpress.
From campus idea to a product
Last year during his sixth semester, one of Ankit’s professors, Dr. Sumohana, offered a course called Multimedia communication. That course was about multimedia, primarily images and videos. All of them were asked to do a project in the course. Ankit Mishra and his friends decided to create a mobile app which will take input as few images and text and will publish it as a video. The adage says, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. they thought a video will be much more than that for sharing stories. That was the beginning of StoryXpress.
StoryXpress is a team of five people. All of them are currently students at IIT Hyderabad. Mudit Tanwani joined Ankit Mishra as the teammate for the course project. Sanyam Kapoor and Chinmay Jindal are their juniors at IIT Hyderabad, they asked them to join the team when they were taking part in Startup Weekend University, Hyderabad. Participating in startup weekend really helped them in getting initial feedback on the idea and in improving the prototype. The idea started evolving from there. After few days Rijul joined them.
Mudit, Sanyam and Chinmay are from Computer Science and engineering departments, while Rijul and Ankit Mishra are from electrical engineering. Ankit takes care of business development and marketing (anything non tech) of the product. Mudit has a keen eye on design and leads the product development and operations. Rijul, Sanyam and Chinmay are creative geeks and convert designs into codes to make it extremely simple to create videos for end users.
Small businesses haven’t embraced storytelling fully yet
The team started market research in the video industry and tried to find gaps in customer needs and experience. What they found was surprising. Many Indian entrepreneurs, especially the SMB owners, haven’t embraced the power of storytelling. Also many of the entrepreneurs (not limited to India) are not using new tools for digital marketing like video marketing. They interviewed few businesses and asked why they are not making it a regular practice? Small businesses were particularly bothered about the prohibitively large sums video professionals charge. Even if they decide to create a video on their own, they have to invest a lot of their time which they would rather spend on their actual startup. Plus they must figure out all the creative inputs about how to present the story, how to make the video visually appealing and a lot of other minute details. Now with StoryXpress at their disposal, SMBs will consider it doing again and again!
StoryXpress co-founder Ankit says, “At present, we are focusing more on the API platform and leverage it to attract big players in e-commerce and real estate. This will require working very closely with the clients. For the first few months we are trying to get hold of prospective Indian clients. Our learnings from Indian market will help us expand to other countries. Startup and SME hotbeds such as Africa and Europe figure at the top of our expansion list. For the consumer facing platform we are not restricted to the market, but plan to focus mainly on the developing markets such as India and Africa.”
StoryXpress offering personalized dynamic template for users
Speaking to YourStory, Ankit talks about their competitors and what differentiate them. “There are mainly two big players — Animoto and Stupeflix. But our system has key advantages which distinguishes us from them. First and foremost is our unique concept of storyboarding. This builds an engaging video for the viewer and delivers a much more enriched experience than a sequence of plain vanilla animations. Also, we are promising a personalized dynamic template which guarantees no two videos are same. Our system intelligently picks up animations based on the properties of input images. Apart from this, there are few exciting product features in the pipeline which will make us stand apart,” he says.
The team is looking for seed round of funding around July-August. For now, the company is bootstrapped. This is the best thing about starting while you are in college. No one expects a salary from you, so you don’t have to pay yourself. Your dorm room is your office, and you get free wi-fi. “We are grateful to programs like Microsoft BizSpark which has helped us in bearing our initial server expanses. We highly recommend MS BizSpark to fellow entrepreneurs who are considering bootstrapping,” adds Ankit.
If you want access to the API, you can reach the team with your requirements and how you’d like to integrate it with your app at hello[at]storyxpress[dot]co