Ilos Videos, which describes its mission as "video communication made simple," is a cloud-based platform that makes it easy for businesses to record, share and store videos. The company recently announced that it raised $1.5 million in seed funding to help further develop its product and has already secured partnerships with companies such as Freshdesk and Lesson.ly.
We asked Sean Higgins '14 M.B.A., co-founder and head of business development for ilos, to tell us more about the company and the role video will play as millennials begin to dominate the workforce.
What gave you the initial idea for ilos and how did you develop that into a business?
The idea for ilos came from an experience Nick Stokman '13 (co-founder of ilos and current CEO) had while working at a Fortune 50 company. He needed to get something done by end of day and the folks who knew how to do the process were unavailable. The only resource he had was an instruction manual, which was 80 pages of text. That's when the lightbulb went off for him and he thought, "What if teams in the workplace could communicate more visually?" He envisioned being able to record answers and updates and store them in channels where other team members could have easy access.
The only way to really know how to innovate in an area is if you personally understand the problem. That experience of needing a better way to communicate was the beginning of ilos. After that it came down to forming a team and taking the idea to the next level – we created a prototype, acquired pilot customers, then paying customers and decided to go all in.
How do you see the use of video transforming in the workplace over the next five years?
When people think of video in the workplace they usually think of conference tools such as WebEx, but we questioned if this is really the best way to communicate. It can take a week to coordinate a time (to meet), and once the meeting is over, people often don't have a clear record of what they learned except for the notes they scribbled down. At ilos, we see video in the workplace taking a major shift toward asynchronous video. These are videos that you record on your time and others view when they have a chance. Between that shift and millennials entering the workplace at a record pace, we see video becoming a big part of how businesses communicate with employees, customers and prospects.
How will access to this seed money allow ilos to be part of that change?
The seed funding gives us the ability to continue to enhance the product, but more importantly to bring it to customers. We're adding to the sales and marketing team to take what we've made to market. We give teams the ability to add streamlined video to their workflow. This helps groups in training take advantage of user-generated content. It helps companies show off features of their product. In addition, we give customers the capability to keep content organized and in sync wherever it lives.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far as an entrepreneur?
There comes a time in your startup where if you really want it, you have to get rid of your other opportunities. You can't have another job; you can't have another startup you're thinking about. In order to grow your business, it needs your full attention. It's like when Cortés landed in the New World. His troops didn't want to go forward; they were terrified. That's when he took a torch and burned his boats. The message was pretty clear: "There's no easy way out. We go forward, or we die." In that same sense, for your startup to succeed, you'll need to burn the boats.
What’s been your best moment so far?
My favorite moment at ilos was the first real check we got from a customer. I have a copy framed above my bed. It's the first thing I see every day when I wake up.
In partnership with Information Technology Services, University of St. Thomas students and faculty have full access to the ilos application. Click here to get started.