As I’m sure you all know, Facebook just jumped on the hashtag bandwagon. While the visual purist part of me bemoans the prospect of #everythingiread looking like #this, the blogger part of me is pumped because clearly grouped and categorized data is #everybloggersdream.
Hashtags are also the force behind Brickflow, which is a new app that lets you pull content from Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and YouTube, to name only a few, to create social media slideshows. Pick a topic you’re interested in, search for it with that handy little #, and Brickflow will pull relevant content from all over the web.
But what do you do with it then? Keep reading to hear the answer (along withe some on-point advice about globe trotting with you’re startup founding) from cofounders Peter Langmar and Mihaly Borbely.
Elevator pitch. Go.
Brickflow lets you build curated social media slideshows in seconds.
Why does the world need Brickflow?
Curated storytelling is a form of communication that is here to stay. Bloggers are using content curation tools to come up with relevant media more quickly.
But content is getting shorter, more visual, and taking place in real-time. Hashtags are becoming mainstream. Vine and Instagram are widely popular. This is a totally new form of self-expression: a few seconds of square-shaped video, low-res snapshots, 140 characters of text.
The tool which connects these sources into curated stories must have a format, workflow, and user experience that fit perfectly into this new world. Nobody else on the market is focusing on visual storytelling with such an approach. Moreover, we aggregate social media content based on hashtag, which makes the workflow much more simple.
As someone who works with words, I find your name really interesting. Bricks aren’t usually something that… flow. What’s the idea you’re working with here?
We believe stories are built from building blocks: brick by brick.
The end result is a dynamic flow of building blocks that make up the story. Because of this, Brickflow is inherently playful and fun to use. It feels like playing with Legos. We wanted our name to be just as memorable and interesting as the stories you build with our tool.
You guys are clearly living the startup country-hopping life. Can you tell us what countries you’ve been in over the past year?
It’s definitely been a crazy ride. In the past year we’ve been to over 12 countries and have lived in three for a significant time. As startup founders we have to be flexible and ready to move anywhere, if the opportunity arises.
We started in Budapest with a crowdfunding campaign, then moved to Tallinn, Estonia for three months to join the Startup Wise Guys accelerator. Since then, we’ve been working in Santiago, as part of the Start-Up Chile program.
Which place had the strongest startup community?
Estonia is a great place to be for startups. Innovation seems to be deeply rooted in the everyday life of the country. There’s an active startup scene in Tallinn, with lots of events going on. Being in Santiago is also an awesome experience, since we work together with a huge community of Start-Up Chile participants from all over the world. But our home city, Budapest is awakening and also has its own startup community, which is growing at a speed we’ve never seen before. Each place has its own strengths.
Where would you ideally like to be located, once you’ve finished the incubator phase?
After leaving Santiago, we’ll move back to Budapest. Staying there will give us a lower burn rate, and lets us keep the team together. We’re also keeping a strong presence in Tallinn, since we’re an Estonian company. But our future goal is to focus on business development and marketing efforts in the US.
How has it been having your team located in different countries and – perhaps even more importantly – in different time zones?
From the very beginning, we built our company’s culture and toolset to make it possible to work together from a distance. For example, the founders stay together whenever possible, and we hold team meetings on Hangouts at a time that accommodates everyone so all can participate despite time differences.
What numbers have you seen so far? Are people excited about what you’re doing?
We are in closed beta now and in this phase, our goal is to get enough feedback to be able to polish every aspect of Brickflow before launching to the public in July. We already have early adopters from all over the world, who have created more than 1,000 stories in total, using more than 80,000 building blocks.
What has been your biggest challenge so far in getting Brickflow up and running?
Time is always our biggest challenge, especially for the founders. And the threat of running out of money is always close. Accelerators can be extremely helpful in shortening learning cycles and forcing founders to get “real.” Still, there is often a “valley of death” that comes after finishing an accelerator, since seed money doesn’t come overnight. This is why we are extremely lucky to be part of the non-equity program of Start-Up Chile, which gives us enough time to launch the product and raise seed investment.
What’s your background? How did you end up doing this whole startup thing?
Mihaly Borbely came up with the idea together with a friend, Erno Rubik, while working on a short film project. Mihaly has a background in photography and market research, and also has experience in web technologies.
Peter Langmar has a background in photography, but changed his track and studied business and communications. He researched the impact of social media on our cultural behaviour and worked for a Harvard University founded startup incubator in Paris.
Tamas Kokeny has worked as a developer for years and participated in the development of sites like Superglued before he joined Brickflow. He gained key experience at the well-recognized Hungarian startup, Prezi.
We all share a vision and each of us has always wanted to start his own company. As a team we’re making it real.
What’s the single most important piece of advice you have for other startup founders?
Don’t write a single line of code unless you know exactly what to build. The only way to find out is to talk to potential users or customers. Don’t ask them about your idea. Ask them about their problems.
Anything else you’d like to add before I let you go?
We are finishing Start-Up Chile in August. To be able to continue the development, we are raising a seed round. Luckily, we’ve already got soft-commitments for two-thirds of the round, but of course, we are still looking for potential investors.