Founders Janosch Asen and Manuel Scheidegger have a taste for the theatrical. They learned the hard way, however, that it’s best to pass on dramatic stunts when pitching investors and save the magic for your product. FarFromHomePage is the charismatic duo’s passion,a web-app that works like iMovie for web content.
Asen and Scheidegger see themselves as pioneers of what they term “creative browsing,” or browsing that allows everyone to grab public content from the web (text, pictures, sounds, videos, websites, etc.) mash it up, and share it. Content remains fully active, so users can remix if they prefer or sit back and enjoy the show.
The Berlin-based entrepreneurs have turned to the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo in an attempt to raise funds to further develop their product. Here they share their startup dreams, joys, and tribulations with KillerStartups.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
For us, the era of short names and strange new words is over. We wanted a name that has a remarkable length and somehow tells a story. Unfortunately, it is to long to add any “tsy,” “oo,” or “ify.”
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
Janosch: Check the site to make sure the servers are running.
Manuel: Check Janosch to make sure he is running.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
We started with the two of us but immediately looked for additional programmers, a kick-ass designer and someone for the biz. Right now we are three Manuel, Janosch and Jeremy. Development is pretty much frozen until we get the next funding. But we have a bunch of amazing programmers in the backhand who are just waiting.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
Our very first pitch was at the Betahaus in Berlin, one of THE hipster places of the Berlin startup scene. We had prepared an amazing, outrageous, impressive performance. Once we were on stage and saw the big watch counting down our time, there was this amazing, outrageous, impressive BLACKOUT. It was so terrible to stand in front of all those geeks and possible investors and to just stutter. After 1 minute of horror we just dropped the whole concept and started talking about our vision. It was a great talk then, and a super experience after all. So, guys, no Broadway! Just present your idea.
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
Janosch: I get pissed. Then calm down pretty fast and try to solve the problem. Mostly that entails finding clever solutions for web-stuff the programmers don’t think of.
Manuel: There is this soccer field close to our office…
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumpin’ away to house music or is it more traditional?
We are located at Ufa-Labs right now,which is a creative co-working space in an old chocolate factory. It is funded by the biggest film company of Germany; so for us, with our idea of mixing websurfing and film, it is the perfect place.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
By then we will have built our own browser, a new way of surfing the web by various, animated, modeled frames, and work from our nice loft-office on the next web-revolution: something about ehm…this.. it’ll be awesome!
Who or what inspires YOU? Give us the deets!
Janosch: I can’t think when I’m hungry, so a good snack and a talk really inspire me. Best is to just take a walk and look at the small details all around us. Manuel: I am really passionate about this idea of the internet as a stage in which ideas always grow further. For me, this has a lot to do with stage plays: Someone is entering the scene, he has his message, another one interrupts, they may have an argument, and for us, the spectators and users, something new is coming up.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded? Where’d you get the money, man?
We just asked and the university gave us a room for a couple of months (great funding-service at Freie Universität Berlin!). Then we got a German government grant for a year and finally put in all our private money – which wasn’t much, as we started right away from university. Now we have an angel who offers strategic help but also a small amount of money, and we started an Indiegogo campaign. It’s “all in,” and we really need the crowd now to spread the word and realize our vision of Creative Browsing!
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Really cut down your idea to the one cool feature and prototype, create an awesome video and get people excited. Investors and users want to see something working, however small it is, instead of being overwhelmed by your idea and vision talk!
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend (and you couldn’t spend it on your current startup / projects)?
Janosch: A journey from New-England over the Rockies to San Francisco. A journey to Mexico and one to India.
Manuel: I would create my own film, and then follow Janosch over the Rockies.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
Janosch: I would consider myself successful in light of what I learned about starting a business in the last two years. To make us more successful: give us the money and we’ll make it happen!
Manuel: Both coming from creative backgrounds, for us it is always a big success if our tool and idea get people really excited. We were not so successful in building a working company, yet. But I guess, we are on a very good way. We just need the financing guys who really see the potential of such a service!
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
Janosch: Stackoverflow, because I find solutions there and those inspire me to use web-technology a different way.
Manuel: FarFromHomePage, because it is the place where I earn my money.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
Janosch: “Öffi” – let’s you travel around in every possible city like you’re living there, showing you the best public transportation routes.
Manuel: First Touch Soccer, it is the best soccer app. And I love to challenge my brother to an online duel in the evening.
Dogs or cats?
iOS or Android?
Janosch: Android of course!
Manuel: I love my iPhone!
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
Users do such amazing, creative, and useful things with our tool that we wouldn’t have thought of!
Where can our readers get a hold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog?
Facebook or Google+?
Depends on which service is faster to implement the Farfromhomepage-App into their stream.