Records up to two minutes of video, stored on the cloud for easy access
Future plans for Present include usability and security boosts, more music
CAPTURING those precious moments is important, especially as remembering the details gets harder as time goes by.
That’s the problem that Singapore-based startup Present is looking to solve, by allowing users to record up to two minutes of video, as well as giving them a platform to edit, store and view these videos from anywhere.
The company raised S$500,000 (US$367,154) earlier this year, comprising S$100,000 from an initial seed round and S$400,000 from angel investors such as Eastgate Technology executive chairman James Teo and Tai Sin Electric executive director Bobby Lim.
The Present app itself, touted as a ‘social video library,’ was officially launched on July 15. The app, available for the iOS, Android and Windows Phone platforms, had been in public beta since the start of this year.
“Sometimes we don’t realise the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory,” cofounder and chief executive officer Peter Zhuo (aka Peter Draw) said at the launch event.
Zhuo said he first thought of the app after an encounter with a young girl in Costa Rica in 2011. She had lost her mother in an earthquake.
“She said that No 1, [her] home became an empty place; and No 2, birthdays became empty dates.
“I promised her that I will show her a world where our loved ones’ memories will never go away,” he added.
This led to the development of Present, which gives users the capability to record, store and reminisce from anywhere in the world. The app also geo-tags and time-stamps videos for easier reference.
Building the Present
Possessing little to no knowledge on what the market wanted or needed, Zhuo (pic above) went out to talk to as many people and potential users as possible.
Present also took part in many events, ranging from the recent SEA (South-East Asian) Games in Singapore to various startup conferences like Echelon Asia. It will also be participating in the upcoming RISE conference in Hong Kong.
Zhuo said that it has been a ‘learning journey’ in getting feedback to build and improve the app.
“We are now on version 18 on iOS – in version 5 or 6, one of our earliest users … hacked into our own system. Our duration for videos is two minutes, but somehow he managed to upload a video longer than two minutes,” he said.
“We went through a lot of problems and bugs to fix,” he added.
To ensure the security of users’ data and videos, it deploys Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption and hashed passwords, with videos automatically set to private.
Also introduced at the launch event was Present search, where users can search for videos, filtering out results based on people, location and time.
The company’s office is located within Nanyang Polytechnic, with which it has a partnership, and this has proven useful.
“The technology school [in Nanyang Polytechnic] has been quite supportive of initiatives … like this,” Zhuo told the media in an interview after the launch event.
Partnering with the school has given Present space as well as interns to work on the app.
“The quality that comes out of the students is very high, almost as good as Silicon Valley standards,” declared Present cofounder and chief technology officer Nur Iman Izam Othman (pic).
When asked about its business model, Nur Iman said, “There are possibilities, but we don’t have any concrete plans yet.”
Zhuo declined to disclose Present’s current number of users, but said this would be announced once it hits a predetermined number. Neither was he willing to share the number of users who got on board the public beta.
However, he did say that the user demographics were mostly young people, and a “significant” number of them were young mothers. Also, more than 50% of its users keep the videos private, fulfilling the role of a video diary.
Present’s journey from conception to launch has been a challenging one, the two cofounders admitted.
“Entrepreneurship is really, really hard … but the key is to take it step by step,” said Zhuo.
The talent crunch was a key challenge, according to Nur Iman. Hiring the people with the right skills has been an issue, and as the company faces technical challenges, the need for people with the right skills increases.
Getting the app out in the market has not been easy either, especially with saturated app stores. “The current app is totally different from the original app,” he added.
Aligning the vision with reality was also an issue with the early conceptualisation of Present.
“It was ahead of its time – what he (Zhuo) had envisioned was something like a holo-lens, like what Microsoft is introducing … basically, augmented reality,” said Nur Iman.
The immediate challenge for the startup is boosting user numbers, but Zhuo has a philosophy to help achieve that objective: “Focus on the 1% and make the 100% impact – we just celebrate our most active users and it’ll spread to their friends.”
“Some actions we can take is to get more content creators who will use Present and upload videos,” Nur Iman quipped, splicing in some reality.
Currently, Present is open to public viewing.
Planning the future Present
The product roadmap for Present revolves around usability upgrades and expansions to other platforms.
“One platform we are looking at is AndroidTV, where users can see their videos on the big screen,” said Nur Iman.
Present is also looking to add client-side security utilising fingerprint sensors or passcodes on smart devices, as well two-factor authentication for its users in the future.
To boost personalisation, it is looking to add the entire iTunes library to the available music for users to add to their videos.
“Users have given us feedback that they want music to dub over their videos, and our current range of music on the app is very limited,” Nur Iman said.
“We have applied for an iTunes affiliate partnership, basically so we can make use of preview music clips – 30-second clips you embed into your videos. We can promote the music for people to buy,” he added.
As for the funding it has received, most of it will be going into hiring and augmenting the current team of seven.
“It’s always about people – communications is about people, product development is about people, users getting content is about people,” said Zhuo.
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