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How We Bootstrapped a Personalized Video Tool To Increase Customer Engagement

Vintom is a personalized and interactive video technology. Our technology helps brands communicate individually with millions of customers. We do it through entertaining and engaging personalized videos. Our technology helps brands pivot from generic mass marketing to genuine 1-1 communication. Brands use our technology to cut through the noise of modern marketing. We help them deliver experiences that are relevant, meaningful, and that customers love!

People love watching videos and we could see a shift towards video content over text on the internet. Watching a video requires much less effort than reading text and it’s more engaging. So we thought, let’s take video and super-charge that with personalized data! Let’s create data-driven video. We were also sick of receiving generic marketing in our own lives. Many big companies struggle to engage their customers so we could see a gap in the market there.

The idea for creating a personalized video came from one of our clients! My first startup was a video-conferencing platform, so I already had experience working with video. One of my customers asked if I could do a bespoke personalised video project for them. To begin with, I wasn’t quite sure how we would make it work. But we engineered a solution and successfully launched our first personalized video campaign. It was a great success.

Vintom evolved organically from that first campaign. We suddenly saw the business potential of our personalized video technology. We were also emboldened by the positive response we received from people who had experienced the videos.

Where did you meet your co-founder team?

We go way back. I’ve lived next to Grzegorz, Vintom’s CTO, since we were kids. And you know what’s funny? Our parents run their own business together too! Vintom is the second generation of successful cooperation between our families. We only met Tomek, our CMO, when he was a former client of our previous business. Tomek worked with Leo Burnett in the past and had his own agency too, so he was the missing piece of the puzzle for Vintom. He understands how the advertising business works, which is vital for us and has great operational skills so he is a really effective product owner.

Why did you bootstrap Vintom?

So we could better manage our culture, grow at our own speed, and because we really believe in what we have created. We’ve seen other companies who received huge VC investments on the back of a great idea and then got lost along the way. Either they grew too fast or they spent too much. We actually took investment from two business angels so we had a bit more money to focus on development and benefited from their mentoring, but we still have that core control. As a bootstrapped company, we focus on making a profit and controlling our costs.

Vintom Team

his method of growth has given us a lot more control over the core values of our business. We’ve spent prudently, and focused on the most important thing: sustainable growth. Putting your own money into a company is pretty scary. But after we had run our first campaign, it made sense to us. We’ve been profit-making for the last three years, so our risk paid off.

Any tips for successful bootstrapping?

Keep the faith and focus on sales. We live by a motto we call the 4Fs: “focus, focus and freaking focus!” Building up your monthly recurring revenue is the key to keeping your head above water. It’s also important to keep the faith in your business idea and fight to make it a success, even when times are tough.

When you’re in a Startup, it’s really easy to get distracted by the bright lights and spend a lot of money very quickly. The key to success is being intentional about all spending and building your revenues bit by bit. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

What types of companies use your technology?

From banks to charities, we’ve worked with many different types of companies, including ING, Standard Chartered, Volkswagen, BNP Paribas, Allianz, IKEA, MetLife, Generali, Audi, Santander, CitiBank, T-Mobile and many others, all around the world!

We’re always trying to create that ‘wow-factor’ in our work, and that has led us down some interesting paths! One company uses our technology to deliver personalized videos from Santa. A charity uses our technology to send a personalized thank you video to its donors from a celebrity. We even made a personalized video with Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich! It’s always amazing to see people using our technology in such creative ways!

Most of our clients are large global brands that use our technology to engage customers. Some brands use our technology to boost sales. Some use it to loyalize customers. And others use it to explain complex services in a simple and engaging way.

One reason brands keep using our technology is because up to 90% of people watch our videos to the end. Some of them see an increase by 2x or more in sales after we send out the videos.

Some of our most common use cases across industries are:

  • Personalized onboarding video
  • Personalized contract renewal reminder
  • Personalized bill explainer
  • Personalized year in review video
  • Personalized offer video for loyal customers
  • And many more

We have clients in industries as diverse as banking, automotive, insurance, pharmaceuticals, telecoms, energy and utilities, and e-commerce. We also work with advertising agencies. That gives us a lot of different avenues to explore!

Who is your target demographic?

Everyone. We don’t have a target demographic. The beauty of this technology is that the impact is universal. A young person in America and an elderly person in Asia are both engaged by this technology. People love video wherever they are in the world. And people love hearing about themselves. The brands we work with understand that. That's why it's easy for them to see a business case for scaling our solution across the world.

How have you to scale your solution to different continents?

With a lot of hard work! It’s been a huge learning experience for us to scale into geographies such as Asia or Latin America. We’ve had to learn about different ways of doing business and different cultural norms. In Taiwan, it is customary to bring gifts to meetings, otherwise it is disrespectful. In Russia, it is a bad omen to shake hands through the door-frame. These are all things you learn by making mistakes.

Having a remote team and a network of partners in various countries around the world helps. Those employees and partners can make introductions for us. Because our clients are global companies, our solution is sometimes recommended internally. This type of recommendation helps us to scale within the companies. For example: Bank X uses our technology in Japan and loves it. So they recommend it to Bank X in South Korea.

We are currently operating in 24 countries on 5 continents. We’re hoping to hit 30 countries in 2020.

And what was the most challenging country to scale to?

Germany. We’re working around the world, in Asia, Latin America, Africa. Yet our closest neighbor is one of our biggest challenges! When it comes to personalization, markets in South East Asia are much more open than Germany. In Germany, people are more wary about data-driven solutions. Germany is difficult for us because of public attitudes towards personalization. We never thought it would be easier to do business on the other side of the world than somewhere close to home. But it's not all bad news. We have signed our first deals in Germany this year.

What is the strangest customer request you’ve had?

People ask if Vintom can make 9 or 10 personalized Christmas videos for their extended family members. We have to kindly inform them that we only work with customers generating 10,000+ videos!

What has driven the most sales?

We are mostly working in B2B sales. In a huge organization like a bank that means there are 4-5 relevant people for us to get our solution in front of. Corporations are generally risk averse, so we have to work hard to build trust in our solution.

That’s why recommendations and face to face meetings are most important for us. There’s nothing like face to face discussion for building a connection. Not even personalized video can beat that. That’s why our distributed team is so important.

We also try to engage people through conferencing. We are very selective about the conferences we attend. But introducing hundreds of people to our solution in 20 minutes is more time-effective than having 1-1 conversations with hundreds of people.

What has been your best marketing channel?

Our customers are our best ‘marketing channel’. Recommendations or testimonials from existing customers are the best type of marketing. We also use PPC, which delivers us a lot of good traffic in areas where we need to work on our SEO.

What is your biggest barrier to growth now?

Market maturity. We work hard to evangelize and spread awareness about our personalized video technology. But many corporations are not yet ready to embrace genuine 1-1 customer engagement. We are trying to build that readiness through ‘evangelism marketing’ and by educating the market.

Have any books or podcasts helped you in business?

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeir Hansson has been an inspiration for me. It helps you to understand how little you need to start your own business, and how to work smarter, not harder. Some of the book touches on boot-strapping as well, which helped me to feel that this was the correct path for Vintom to take.

Aside from that, I loved the podcast StartUp by Gimlet Media. The show follows Alex Blumberg as he launches his first business. He runs into many common issues startups face and he covers them in an honest and often hilarious way. It’s a nice one to listen to when you’re starting out.

What does the future hold for Vintom?

We are always developing our technology to add new features and functionalities. That development work is usually triggered by feedback from our customers. We’re always building and improving our core technology.

This year, we will begin licensing our technology to selected creative agencies. This will let them serve personalized video to their own clients. That’s a game-changer for us! It means even more people will be able to experience the magic of personalized video.

We aim to open our first office in Singapore this year, which will be our HQ in Asia. We have big ambitions for 2020.The traction we’ve had so far has been amazing and so has the excitement about what we’re doing. Now we’ve got to keep up the momentum!

What does the name Vintom mean?

That’s top secret. But you can send us a message if you think you’ve worked it out.

Company Name: Vintom
Founder: Szymon Pawlica



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