"We noticed that people all over the world spend more than 140 million hours every day on PowerPoint, only to create a presentation. We wanted to solve this problem, so Imaginations was born," says Moody Boles.
Three years ago, a 14-year-old boy and his friend were asked to present a project they were working on at an extra-curricular activity. While struggling to create a portfolio with a presentable and professional outlook, they got inspired.
“Through our research, we noticed that more that 140 million hours every day on powerpoint, only to create a presentation,” Moody Boles tells Startup Scene. “We wanted to solve this problem, and so Imaginations was born.”
Imaginators is an online platform that provides digital solutions for businesspeople to present their portfolios in a professional, engaging, and sophisticated manner, without needing to know how to code or design. Only one month later, they had users in 24 countries; and today, they are 90.
As students, juggling homework, exams, extracurricular activities, and now their startup, Boles and his co-founder Amr Naguib needed to find a way to manage their times wisely without letting the success of academia be at the expense of Imaginators, or vice versa. “We prioritise,” the 17-year-old explains. “If someone has an upcoming exam for example, the other would take some of their workload and their tasks would be divided among us.”
While building their startup, the young entrepreneurs encountered two main issues; one of which was finding the rare features and options the user needs. The other problem was the competition in the Egyptian digital market. “All of our competitors are big elephants or huge players in the scene,” he says. “We were in need of a big effort to start finding a combative edge on these players. We try to overcome these challenges by trying to find new solutions; we decided to embed a lot of tools that allow our users to create their presentations much easier and faster and with new features. We wanted to give our users something that is unavailable on other platforms.”
To do that, Boles and Naguib had to change and adjust their product design several times to reach the model that has the maximum user benefits in terms of features and user-friendly graphical interface.
“Before our first public beta version, we had created two private versions,” Boles says. “In each version, we added new features and tried to always simplify the process and improve the user experience. We would always test them through surveys and our user testing.”
With almost 200 users even before launching in December 2016, Imaginators would always ask its users, giving out surveys to test after every version they design. This ultimately brought them to the third version.
“We have introduced new types of presentations; a page format and a slideshow format,” says Boles. “We also introduced new animation and interactions.” Imaginators' users from 90 countries enjoy a freemium business model, allowing their currently 3,000 users to access the basic features. “However, subscribing to a monthly subscription plan would allow the user to unlock the full power of the platform,” he elaborates.
Last year, Boles and Naguib joined Innoventures Startup Reactor Programme, a six- month intensive accelerator. “Through this period, we worked on developing our business model,” Boles says. “Working directly with the mentors at Innoventures, they really helped us improve our business model and make it more effective. For example, aiding us to understand the need to really segregate the freemium and premium plans, as well as helping us adjust the fees.”
Users that use the free plans have some limitations such as being limited to three presentations per month, as well as only being able to add the basic features including text and pictures. The more advanced features, like animations and more interactive elements are only accessible for users subscribed to a premium plan. Not only that; Imaginators’ platform also gives them access to exposure. “They also appear first in our search results so they have more possibilities to engage with users more and more,” he elaborates.
The entrepreneurs are currently looking to raise their seed fund, targeting $350,000. “We will use this fund to launch our new version and embed Artificial Intelligence,” he reveals to Startup Scene. “We also plan on investing more in marketing, hoping to reach more regions and more customers.”
Dressing it up in AI, Imaginators’ upcoming version - to be launched by the end of the year - will introduce free and premium templates, including built-in libraries inside the platform itself, with icon, image, and chart categories.
“Our addition of AI will dynamically change the presentation process,” he says. Users merely need to input their content, and watch the AI analyse it and make suggestions according to what the system sees. “The AI assistant will be making adjustments in terms of typography, colours and the layout of the presentations as a whole.”
Last October, Boles participated in MO4 Media Startups Competition, held at the Techne Summit in the coastal city of Alexandria. The summit, kicking off on Saturday 30th, gathered thousands of would-be entrepreneurs, tech enthusiasts and startup founders to showcase their ideas and listen to inspiring talks by global changemakers like Agamemnon Otero, Mark Turell, and Jessica Berlin. Boles went home with the firs-place prize giving him and his team the opportunity to receive mentorship from MO4's Waleed "Wally" Mowafi. Ahead of MO4's competition, Imaginators had also won the Orange Startup Cup in June 2017, winning over more than 570 applicants. After an intensive four-month incubation process, the startup was also awarded as one of the five winning teams and took home a prize of 50,000 EGP.
Photos by #MO4Network.
Photographers: Sherif Abdel Azim and Ashraf Hamed.
Sign up for the weekly newsletter