Founders Journal, Ana & Vlad - Excio

About the founders

Ana - Ana grew up in Almaty, Kazakhstan and from a very young she showed a flair for entrepreneurship by starting her first business with classmates while still in High School. Fast forward a few years, several University Degrees and over 14,000 km, and her passion for all things digital combined with her love of visual art lead her to co-found Excio, a mobile technology company. Ana believes that the 3D’s – Drive, Determination, and Dreams – are the key influencers in determining how successful someone becomes and regardless of your background anything is possible.

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Vlad - Vlad has been working in software development for almost two decades now in one capacity or another and has combined this technical knowledge with his strategic way of thinking to create some great applications over the years. When he’s not tinkering with software, he can be found discovering more about global history and politics or playing his guitar.

The project that Vlad is most excited about is Excio, which combines his passion for mobile application software with his desire to see technology used to enhance peoples’ lives. By utilising his technical know-how, plugging in his commercial mindset and building an intuitive user interface, Vladimir hopes to bring interesting, engaging and enriching content to a user’s mobile device. His attention and focus has always been – and will remain – on the end-user and he is proud that the Excio project has received such favourable feedback from all who have encountered it.
 

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The elevator, and introduction to Excio what is it and who’s it for?

Excio – direct visual discovery channel for home screens of mobile devices connecting people with places, culture, and heritage through powerful and intriguing visuals, personalisation, geotargeting and in-depth analytics.

The startup story, how did you get started and what sparked the initial concept?

Both I and Vlad use mobile phones a lot and with the developments in technology there appear to be more and more apps, more in-app advertising and mobile device boast for having larger screens, so all promotional messages when you open an app become really annoying. We started thinking how this can be improved - there must be a direct channel between people who want to share their message or story and people who want to see it. Our ‘eureka’ moment came when we realised how underused mobile home screens are and how they could be used to enrich people’s lives.

In 2016 we were invited to take part in the Mahuki programme and it was there when we realised that actually culture and heritage sectors including everything related to it - museums, galleries, archives, individual photographers, and artists have amazing content that they simply can’t share through existing channels and so the visual storytelling which is very important - doesn’t happen. Imagine if you are a museum (and usually museums have only 5% of their collections on display), sharing all of their collections through FB or Instagram is just not viable but hugely important for engagement with their visitors and followers.

By displaying an array of images right upfront on people’s home screens around the world means no matter what people do during the day, what apps they use, install or uninstall, they still will see their home screen and with Excio it is going to be something exciting! With a double tap on the photo, people can easily see who is the content creator, story behind the photo or visit any linked website. Excio is strongly focused around interests and with embedded geolocation targeting it can easily connect people to places and stories they want to discover.

How long have you been operating and what have been the stand out learnings you’d pass on to startups in similar stages?

We started in 2015 with the initial stage being R&D - we did a good market research, validation, applied for a patent. The development actively started in 2016 and 2017 was our big year - the launch of the app, recognition in multiple competitions and attention of the media. 2018 is our growth year - we have lots of exciting things to do!

Our major learnings along the way:

  1. Never turn down good opportunities coming your way - it may be as simple as a meeting or as complex as participating in a conference overseas, try to use your chance and get involved. First - you never know what it will lead to and second - you will see a whole lot of new opportunities around you, it is just how it works!

  2. Take part in competitions and challenges - it is a great way to get credibility, recognition and gives you a really good free promotion.

  3. For other startups in similar stages - always keep in mind: we are just at the beginning of something super exciting!

What do you hope to get out of Collision Labs?

"Meet new awesome people, grow our networks and collaborate on new ideas!"

What does the future look like for Excio any exciting news to share?

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Stay tuned! There will be an exciting project (or potentially even 2-3) coming in the next 1-2 months, but can’t share the details just yet.

Anything you like to add? Are there any events or meetups happening we need to know about?

We are thrilled to be invited to talk about the importance of visual storytelling in our daily lives at Techweek headline event - Creative Realities on 24th of May and we will also have our Exhibition stand there from 12.00pm - 1.30pm, so make sure you book your tickets for it and we look forward to seeing you there!

Excio has its own magazine for photographers - NZPhotographer. It is a free online magazine and the only NZ magazine for amateur photographers, so if you are interested in photography you are most welcome to read it online: www.issuu.com/nzp_magazine

We also run three Meetup groups in partnership with New Zealand Photography Workshops - you are welcome to join any or all three of them:

Auckland: https://www.meetup.com/Auckland-Photo-Meetup-Group/

Wellington: https://www.meetup.com/Wellington-Photography-Meetup-Group/

Christchurch: https://www.meetup.com/Christchurch-Photography-Meetup-Group/