Click here if you can’t see this video interview with Storify Founder Xavier Damman.
In this video interview, Damman relates the interesting story of how he rapidly progressed from putting code together in his apartment in Belgium to building a company now backed by one of the most powerful venture capital firms in America.
The quality of the video was so-so because we were in a crowded area and English is Xavier’s second language so I also transcribed this interesting interview below:
Mark- I am with Xavier Damman, the founder of Storify, one of the most exciting and interesting start-ups. They are really beyond a start-up right now and we are in the only quiet place we could find at SXSW — a hallway by a bathroom — and we will probably be interrupted by waitresses at any minute. So Xavier, tell us about your story. You are from Belgium originally — how did you get this idea for Storify?
Xavier – I was an early Twitter user back in 2006 and I realized there’s a lot of great content on Twitter but there’s also a lot of noise so I really wanted to find a way to surface and amplify the voices that matter. So that’s how I started working on this idea. I moved to Silicon Valley about 2 1/2 years ago and after about 6 months, I got the San Francisco Chronicle to use the program. So I thought I would get my co-founder involved who is an awesome person but was used to be a reporter with the AP for about 12 years.
So together we worked on this vision, this idea and came up with Storify which is basically kind of a new typewriter for this social media age. It’s a way to curate social media … select what we will say on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, whatever and use that to tell the story of what happens. It’s a way to tell your audience about your brand, what people are saying about you in social media and your social campaigns.
Mark – You mentioned to me that several companies, brands and even the White House have picked this up. How are brands using this?
Xavier – They are using it in different ways for example if you want to amplify the voices of their customers, saying different things about them on social media, Storify is a great way to do it. Companies also use it as a way to engage with their audience on social media. They will ask a question on Facebook or Twitter and say, “Hey, what do you think of this? And they will curate the best answers and people who participate appreciate the fact that they are being listened to so they are part of the story.
Mark – That’s awesome. Now, your journey from Belgium to Silicon Valley – was this difficult? I mean how did you find the money to start Storify?
Xavier – The beauty of this world is is doesn’t require a lot of money to start up something like this. There’s so much available for free on the Internet, and that’s awesome. I’m an engineer myself so I actually built the first prototype. The real effort was getting to San Francisco and trying to get to know people there and that’s when I met my co-founder and things grew from there. And people say, “Oh, those overnight successes of start-ups in Silicon Valley,” … but it actually takes time to become an overnight success!
We actually took about 18 months to raise our first money, we started with a venture capital partner about a year ago which was really great but it takes a lot of effort, a lot of iteration to raise money. But we know what we are doing, we are passionate about doing it and it’s so great to be living at this time.
Mark – That’s wonderful. Such an inspiration for entrepreneurs. How can people find you on the web, to learn more about you and your company?
Xavier – They can find us at Storify.com and we just released our new iPad app — which is a great way to use your fingers to curate social media and different stories
Mark – I can’t wait to try it. I’m seeing Storify everywhere now so congratulations and I appreciate you talking to me.