A picture may have been worth a thousand words back in 1911, but in the digital age, an image is arguably worth far more.
Visual content grabs our attention online. It can convey a great deal of information—or evoke certain emotions—almost instantly. It’s easier to “consume” than long blocks of text, particularly on mobile devices. And it’s highly sharable.
But marketers face several obstacles to making optimal use of visual content. First, expectations for the quality and content value of business graphics has increased. Second, most marketers aren’t graphic design pros. And third, many of the tools designed for professional graphic design are costly and challenging to learn and use.
Payman Taei recognized these problems back in 2013. Interest in infographics was exploding, and his agency team needed a tool that would enable them to produce high-quality infographics, as well as other types of visual content, more easily and efficiently within a single interface that could also be used across all content formats.
“Today, the world is saturated with design and communications. The more people can marry these together, the better results they have in captivating their audience,” notes Payman.
“Not everyone has the time or skill to learn today’s advanced graphic design tools. And most of those tools are very expensive and challenging to navigate for the average user. Even if you do get the hang of them, you generally have to move between different tools and interfaces to bring everything together and reach your end goal.”
So, he set out to develop a visual design tool that would be flexible, simple to use, and affordable. Here’s the story of Visme.
Visme is an all in one design tool; users can create engaging presentations, infographics, documents, printables, web and social graphics with little to no design skills.
Visme eliminates the need to learn multiple different tools and interfaces by bringing together all popular format types and pre-designed templates for presentations, infographics, visual documents, printables, web and social graphics into one easy-to-use interface that empowers users to export projects or publish them to the web publicly or privately.
The flexibility and robustness of Visme brings individuals and professionals the ability to put their best foot forward in their content and visual communications.
Year founded: 2013
Funding rounds: Self-funded / bootstrapped by choice; though investors reach out regularly
Current size: More than five million users; team of 45 employees based across 13 different countries.
Webbiquity: What inspired you to work on a solution to this particular problem?
Payman Taei: As a designer back in the day when I was running an agency, I found myself getting frustrated having to use many different platforms to accomplish design. It just took a lot of time to accomplish even relatively simple projects. I wanted to make things more productive for other designers like me.
I also saw non-designers trying to create visual documents and content in tools that are just not built for that. So I joined these two problems together and Visme was born. One tool to empower non-designers and professional designers to create things that they can be proud to share with key stakeholders in an effective way, while taking a fraction of the time to create it.
Webbiquity: What were the most effective channels or methods for you to get the word out to prospective customers when you first launched your product?
PT: As a self-funded, bootstrapped startup, we needed to work with little to no budget for marketing and getting Visme noticed. We have focused tremendously on organic growth: content, SEO, influencer marketing, and word of mouth. We actually published our tell-all in an eBook documenting our efforts, hiccups, and successes, titled Marketing Strategies We Used to Bootstrap Visme to over 4 million users.
I like sustainable growth that progressively grows. Don’t get me wrong, the hockey stick growth is great. But I want to see Visme grow at a healthy pace with a steady rate of incline, and that’s what we have so far… and we’ve worked hard for it. It’s a team effort, and contributions from every Visme team member make a difference!
Webbiquity: Finish this sentence: “Knowing what I know now, if I were starting over today, what I would do differently is…”
PT: I would have invested more time into marketing research and less on trial and error. And I would have kept Visme under a private beta for a longer period of time before making it available to the public.
Webbiquity: What’s the most important advice you could offer to an entrepreneur starting out today?
PT: In full transparency, PR has never been a big thing for us and has never made any noticeable difference to our bottom line. So unless you have something absolutely unique that journalists want to talk about, or have just raised millions (which tend to get picked up often by various journalists), focus your time and effort on building a great product and keeping your customer/users happy.
About seven years ago, I attended a Tech Breakfast event in DC (where our US HQ is based) with about 100 professionals at the venue. I was fortunate to be able to present the idea behind Visme as I was ready to embark on the development of it.
An investor politely spoke up with confidence that my idea for Visme wasn’t going to work because I needed to focus on just solving one problem (to allow people to create compelling presentations). Whereas, my vision was one tool to empower anyone to create all forms of content (including presentations).
I appreciated his perspective, but I also fully disagreed and decided to go with my gut…
Fast forward to today and nearly 5 million users later, Visme is used by professionals from over 120 countries and by brands such as Uber Freight, Accenture, PayPal, and IBM. Visme is taking on not only PowerPoint and Google Slides, but other content tools such as Canva, Prezi, Piktochart, and many others.
Since that day, I have created Visme to go against the grain in a number of ways, and I encourage other entrepreneurs to really hone in on their instincts and to trust their gut. While doing so, be sure to assess your moves, and be honest with yourself when you take a wrong turn and need to regroup and pivot quickly to correct your course.