We are continuing the Rubik Hub Interview series with one talented guy: Alex Roznovăț, the co-founder and owner of PixTeller.
Alex is one of the most active members of our community! He has been besides Rubik Hub since day one and he is always happy to help, inspire and empower others!
Although he is probably in one of the busiest periods of his live, we are very grateful that he dedicated some precious time for this interview!
How would you describe your life as an entrepreneur?
Let me start by introducing myself! My name is Alexandru Roznovat and I am one of Romania’s proud entrepreneurs, co-founder and owner of PixTeller. I was born in the beautiful seven hills city, Iasi, where I still live.
Before PixTeller, I launched one of the first web templates store in the world: GecoTemplates (2006). I also had some ambitious projects like Niuzer.com and Sunlize.com. Although not successful in all their details, these opened new pathways for my future ideas.
My day-to-day life it’s not much different from all fellows out there. But as an entrepreneur, let me tell you that it’s not all about an idea, talent or luck. You always hear the same story about successful startup entrepreneurs and their million dollar ideas. We all have ideas we believe in, but way too often we don’t follow them, thinking that these don’t matter or won’t work. Well, that’s precisely the difference that makes entrepreneurs so unique. It’s about being willing to take all the risks and turn your ideas into actions, hard work, believe, investment (sometimes all your time & money).
It’s not all milk and honey. I risked it all, made mistakes (still making), but without risk there is no chance, as well as no innovation without change. When it comes to tech-startups I think the Reid Hoffman quote represent me the most “An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down”.
That’s how PixTeller was born (and ‘raised’)!
What is your opinion about the Romanian entrepreneurial ecosystem? Do you think it is aligned with the international trends & requirements?
While developing the new PixTeller platform, we had to overcome many challenges. There were fun, as well as hard and exhausting moments when we burned our brains on getting the best results.
The lack of finance was the biggest challenge we had to face. Romania is not a country with a strong economy and doesn’t have an infrastructure for shared resources, support, and guidance for struggling tech entrepreneurs to start their business. Besides the lack of resources, the government doesn’t understand the specific challenges that the entrepreneurs are facing.
Another key challenge was trying to source talented people to join the team. I had to face many difficulties, as the idea of a startup, with no external funding or guarantee of expected results..It is not that appealing to many people in Romania yet.
If you live in a developing country where the IT industry is growing every year, you will face the competition of multinationals, that have the financial power and offer many benefits to their employees, from bonuses to health insurances. As a startup with no external funding, you cannot provide the benefits, business environment, or salary level as multinationals.
Also, when working on a startup, you don’t usually have a daily 8 hours work schedule. There are times when you need to work even more than 12 hours per day. Therefore, it is essential to have the right people (sometimes the smartest people) by your side, who understand the concept of your project and believe in your idea and on whom you can count every day.
In my opinion, it’s a must to involve more highly experienced people into this new ventures. People who have a background if we want to have a change worldwide
You are one of the very dedicated mentors of Rubik Hub Community. How important you think the mentoring activity is for the development of a startup community?
I really enjoy the Rubik Hub Community! It has a stunning vibe & energy! There are many really great people who want to make a change in the Romania startup area. It takes a lot of effort and shared resources to gather people who would like to start a business in tech and people who were or are in this segment right now.
For the Romanian tech, the ecosystem is excellent to have as many of this initiatives as possible, where we can share between us the experience and learn from each other. Step by step the effort put in by communities like Rubik will return 1000x in an impressive result. But we must execute, persevere and have patience … great things will not come overnight.
We (Rubik Hub team) stared using PixTeller and we find it amazing! Please tell us a few things about how it all started and in what phase are you now with your startup.
On PixTeller we do have a great team and a “PixsTory” to tell. Even though we are a small team, we are all talented and passionate about our work.
I first designed PixTeller in 2014 to create Picture Quotes & Posters as a second job. Then, I realized that people need a better, faster and easier tool to create graphic designs – not just for fun, but for business or commercial purposes also so we made a new version of it and launched in December 2016. In 2017 we focused a lot on the business model and improving the platform and design editor.
From the end of 2017 and all of 2018, we pivoted a lot on the product and business as well. Based on the PixTeller technology and driven by the machine learning algorithms, PixBot is the ultimate idea that will shape the design world by automatically creating images and short video layouts that anyone can use and customize. Currently, we put PixBot somehow ‘on hold’ because it costs us a lot of finances and time.
The most significant achievement for us was in December 2018 when we finished and launched the Animation Editor. Remember Adobe Flash Software? We have recreated and just started the timeline version in the cloud: the PixTeller Animation Editor.
What does it do? Animated Designs for websites, banners, social media posts, mobile apps, newsletters and more downloadable as GIF or MP4 format.
Who can use it? Anyone can use the Pixteller Animation Editor and easily create video motions between various design elements like Text, Shapes, Photos, Illustrations, etc.
According to Reuters, animations will be a significant digital marketing trend in 2019, as more than 84% of communication will be visual. They say an image is worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a million, so I bet many people would be interested to discover us.
I think that right now we are in the most vulnerable moment as a startup after some years of hard work on the product. We have a great product with a considerable differentiator – “Animated Designs,” we have some hundreds of recurring clients, some thousands of clients who bought PixTeller as a lifetime-software (kept us financially alive), some thousands of active free users monthly and most important a great team like the two ninjas co-founders Florin & Antonio. So … What’s next? – GO BIG or go home!!!
As the founder and CEO of PixTeller, what are your major challenges at the moment?
Now we must move the main focus to Growth Model, Marketing, Sales.. in one word Money. Until now we grow only organic or through some partners who sold PixTeller as LTD (Lifetime deal). The primary challenge is the swift of the executive power from the product to the sale process.
For me and my team, this is one of the most challenging periods. In my opinion, sales represent the value of a startup. By executing sales, it means you resolve a real problem on a global scale, but at the same times to make thousands, maybe tens of thousands of recurring transactions it’s not easy at all.
To do that combining with the lack of financial resources and without the power of a big team we must execute. We will put our technical and creative minds at work. We will use all our connections to find the growth path. By considering this, we will focus a lot on data and numbers.
PixTeller’s success will only be achieved by our marketing and sales execution, and it’s a mix of a lot of factors that coexists together like Content strategy, Email Sequences, Onboard-Educate-Engage funnel, SEO, SEM and a lot more…
The biggest challenge is to make Animated Designs known. Is not a video but can be used as a video, is not a gif but can be used as a gif and from the data I got in the last week it really catches attention.
The 3rd challenge is to hire more people, people more intelligent than us who can help us get bigger faster and people who can execute the recurring tasks.
Looking into the future, we have some significant challenges to face and only time will say if we made the right decisions.
What are your ambitions for the next 10 years, in terms of startup development?
One word answer from a dreamer: Unicorn!
One thing is sure, to be frank, the world will not be the same. From the startup perspective is tough to know.. to be honest, right now I don’t know how things will look like next week, not to mention ten years from now.. Hard to say. 🙂
But here are some future objectives:
- Have our own Blue Ocean;
- PixTeller Editor API integrated & customizable on different Desktop & Mobile Platforms – think how it will be that before to upload a Picture to Facebook we may choose from a series of animated pictures based on PixTeller technology;
- Continues developing PixBot to automate the design & animation process using AI and Machine Learning algorithms;
- Real-time PixTeller renders and encoding on blockchain maybe we will even have our own Cryptocurrency based on how many images and animated designs are automatically creating into the blockchain infrastructure;
- Real-time communication through personalized images and short animated designs based on the writer profile and his feeling at that moment.
When I’m not working building the next generation of design tools, I most probably ride my bike in the deepest forests around, exploring the unknown (space, aliens) or spending time with my family and friends.