Is the end of PowerPoint looming? (video)

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Prezi_Arvai
Peter Arvai, CEO of Prezi

The tools we use to convey and present our ideas are begging to be brought into a more visual, spatial context, Peter Arvai, CEO of Prezi told Inside Investor on the sidelines of the Economist’s Information Forum 2013 conference held in San Francisco on June 4, 2013.

And a movement to rehash our toolkit is already underway. Prezi, a zoomable presentation canvas, has gotten traction in the Netherlands and South Korea, the latter of which has begun publishing books on how to make attractive Prezi presentations. Inside Investor asked Peter Arvai what other markets Prezi has gotten positive feedback from and how this breakthrough technology could help reinvent stale educational systems.

Interview by Kamran Saddique

Q: Prezi has undergone astronomical growth in the past 8 months. Can you give us an idea of how this has come along and how you plan to continue that?

A: We have close to 25 million registered users now, and we are adding 1.5 million every month, so if you were to look at the curve it would be one of those very exponential ones. Prezi is being driven by our users. For example, if you go to a meeting and use Prezi than a lot of the people in the audience will enjoy the experience and want to adopt it. That would mean the vast majority of our growth is viral in nature, predominantly in the US and Western Europe. However, we also have had early success in South America and Asia. In fact, we just established ourselves in South Korea, and because there is a large uptake in Latin America we just hired our first Spanish-speaking person to help users.

Q: How did you decide upon South Korea?

A: It came about very organically. Now that I’ve spent time in South Korea I can see that being between two markets that are very pressuring – one side having low-cost manufacturing, the other high tech – there is now a palatable sense to go the next step: Economic competitiveness, then creativity and education will be at the center of that development. From the very beginning we launched Prezi South Korea because our users were telling us that there are no ‘Korean thoughts.’ We couldn’t speak Korean, so our community there helped create the first Korean fonts for Prezi, which has led to user groups and even books published in Korean on how to make beautiful Prezis.

Q: Have you seen this movement in any other markets?

A. We have received this kind of feedback from all over the world, especially in Europe, where the Netherlands was the first mover market for us. I would say that there are some parallels in these two markets in the way that in the Netherlands people are very business-minded and international trade is a huge part of the economy. In these kinds of environments, Prezi spreads very quickly. In the UK we are growing very quickly as well, but when you have smaller, more isolated markets, you tend to stand out.

Q: Can you give us a background of what Prezi does?

A: We help people share ideas and we do it in a different way than the traditional slides that you may be used to in PowerPoint. In the traditional way, slides are arranged one idea per slide but in Prezi you arrange all your ideas in this one space, allowing the ability to explore and understand, as well as the relationships between ideas. You can zoom out and look at the big picture of how your ideas add up; you can zoom in to add focus. This way of conveying stories is a very powerful one because its just how our brains work. Ever since we were born we’ve been forced to navigate in this spatial, visual world, and this is the how Prezi operates. It’s a visual journey.

Q: How easy is Prezi for someone who is 40 or 50 to use?

A: I would say that there are two kinds of personalities involved here. The creative thinker, who probably already uses whiteboards, will say: ‘Wow, this has been the tool that I’ve been missing all along.’ However, people who have spent a lot of time arranging ideas that where probably hard to arrange in the form of slides, but have gotten very used to that format will find Prezi a challenge. To tell a story as a big picture and try to make all that add up makes it hard; it is a shift in mindset. What we see is that when we give children the option between slides and Prezi, we often see them gravitating towards Prezi because they feel less intimated by the creative challenge. In Prezi we do have templates to help people get into this world without being an expert in visual, special storytelling.

Q: Are your users more on the corporate or individual side of your paid services?

A: With regards to paid services, most of our users are often marketing or sales people, and sometimes from human ressources. There is nothing surprising to me about this because these people are the ones that communicate a lot in their work. In the education sector, we see a lot of teachers using Prezi, as well as students. This works because teachers and students spend 8 hours of their days sharing ideas. Similarly, this is what is done in marketing. The fact that these people use Prezi is an indication that we are building a need for making the sharing of ideas more fun and engaging.

Q: Where can Prezi play a role in emerging Southeast Asian markets such as Indonesia and the Philippines where brain drain is an issue, but the education has already taken to new forms of media?

A: If we focus on education in particular, I think it’s hard to realise the context of what’s going on. We are going from a 200-year-old educational system where institutes can reasonably predict what competency levels are needed to go on after graduation. Even in the Western world we see this model crumbling; people are getting multiple degrees, but they still end up in other jobs. I think what educational institutions are realising is that they have lost the expert status, which now resides on the Internet. They also lack the support to help students really grow into becoming competitive people on the labour market. This is where Prezi comes in, introducing a creative space to communicate while challenging our ability to express ideas.

Inside Investor’s thoughts:

Reinventing the educational and creative sectors’ ability to present and communicate ideas is at the core of Prezi’s virility. The zoomable canvas will quickly overtake PowerPoint, engendering new followings first in small markets looking to become more engaging and competitive in the global race to create knowledge-base economies.

Inside Investor sees Prezi’s introduction to South Korea as a stepping-stone to entering ASEAN markets that have already taken to social media and other technological trends with the utmost alacrity. The Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia are among the most likely to mesh with Prezi as they possess the creative prerequisites and tech industries needed to quickly adopt the software.

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

Peter Arvai, CEO of Prezi

The tools we use to convey and present our ideas are begging to be brought into a more visual, spatial context, Peter Arvai, CEO of Prezi told Inside Investor on the sidelines of the Economist’s Information Forum 2013 conference held in San Francisco on June 4, 2013.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Prezi_Arvai
Peter Arvai, CEO of Prezi

The tools we use to convey and present our ideas are begging to be brought into a more visual, spatial context, Peter Arvai, CEO of Prezi told Inside Investor on the sidelines of the Economist’s Information Forum 2013 conference held in San Francisco on June 4, 2013.

And a movement to rehash our toolkit is already underway. Prezi, a zoomable presentation canvas, has gotten traction in the Netherlands and South Korea, the latter of which has begun publishing books on how to make attractive Prezi presentations. Inside Investor asked Peter Arvai what other markets Prezi has gotten positive feedback from and how this breakthrough technology could help reinvent stale educational systems.

Interview by Kamran Saddique

Q: Prezi has undergone astronomical growth in the past 8 months. Can you give us an idea of how this has come along and how you plan to continue that?

A: We have close to 25 million registered users now, and we are adding 1.5 million every month, so if you were to look at the curve it would be one of those very exponential ones. Prezi is being driven by our users. For example, if you go to a meeting and use Prezi than a lot of the people in the audience will enjoy the experience and want to adopt it. That would mean the vast majority of our growth is viral in nature, predominantly in the US and Western Europe. However, we also have had early success in South America and Asia. In fact, we just established ourselves in South Korea, and because there is a large uptake in Latin America we just hired our first Spanish-speaking person to help users.

Q: How did you decide upon South Korea?

A: It came about very organically. Now that I’ve spent time in South Korea I can see that being between two markets that are very pressuring – one side having low-cost manufacturing, the other high tech – there is now a palatable sense to go the next step: Economic competitiveness, then creativity and education will be at the center of that development. From the very beginning we launched Prezi South Korea because our users were telling us that there are no ‘Korean thoughts.’ We couldn’t speak Korean, so our community there helped create the first Korean fonts for Prezi, which has led to user groups and even books published in Korean on how to make beautiful Prezis.

Q: Have you seen this movement in any other markets?

A. We have received this kind of feedback from all over the world, especially in Europe, where the Netherlands was the first mover market for us. I would say that there are some parallels in these two markets in the way that in the Netherlands people are very business-minded and international trade is a huge part of the economy. In these kinds of environments, Prezi spreads very quickly. In the UK we are growing very quickly as well, but when you have smaller, more isolated markets, you tend to stand out.

Q: Can you give us a background of what Prezi does?

A: We help people share ideas and we do it in a different way than the traditional slides that you may be used to in PowerPoint. In the traditional way, slides are arranged one idea per slide but in Prezi you arrange all your ideas in this one space, allowing the ability to explore and understand, as well as the relationships between ideas. You can zoom out and look at the big picture of how your ideas add up; you can zoom in to add focus. This way of conveying stories is a very powerful one because its just how our brains work. Ever since we were born we’ve been forced to navigate in this spatial, visual world, and this is the how Prezi operates. It’s a visual journey.

Q: How easy is Prezi for someone who is 40 or 50 to use?

A: I would say that there are two kinds of personalities involved here. The creative thinker, who probably already uses whiteboards, will say: ‘Wow, this has been the tool that I’ve been missing all along.’ However, people who have spent a lot of time arranging ideas that where probably hard to arrange in the form of slides, but have gotten very used to that format will find Prezi a challenge. To tell a story as a big picture and try to make all that add up makes it hard; it is a shift in mindset. What we see is that when we give children the option between slides and Prezi, we often see them gravitating towards Prezi because they feel less intimated by the creative challenge. In Prezi we do have templates to help people get into this world without being an expert in visual, special storytelling.

Q: Are your users more on the corporate or individual side of your paid services?

A: With regards to paid services, most of our users are often marketing or sales people, and sometimes from human ressources. There is nothing surprising to me about this because these people are the ones that communicate a lot in their work. In the education sector, we see a lot of teachers using Prezi, as well as students. This works because teachers and students spend 8 hours of their days sharing ideas. Similarly, this is what is done in marketing. The fact that these people use Prezi is an indication that we are building a need for making the sharing of ideas more fun and engaging.

Q: Where can Prezi play a role in emerging Southeast Asian markets such as Indonesia and the Philippines where brain drain is an issue, but the education has already taken to new forms of media?

A: If we focus on education in particular, I think it’s hard to realise the context of what’s going on. We are going from a 200-year-old educational system where institutes can reasonably predict what competency levels are needed to go on after graduation. Even in the Western world we see this model crumbling; people are getting multiple degrees, but they still end up in other jobs. I think what educational institutions are realising is that they have lost the expert status, which now resides on the Internet. They also lack the support to help students really grow into becoming competitive people on the labour market. This is where Prezi comes in, introducing a creative space to communicate while challenging our ability to express ideas.

Inside Investor’s thoughts:

Reinventing the educational and creative sectors’ ability to present and communicate ideas is at the core of Prezi’s virility. The zoomable canvas will quickly overtake PowerPoint, engendering new followings first in small markets looking to become more engaging and competitive in the global race to create knowledge-base economies.

Inside Investor sees Prezi’s introduction to South Korea as a stepping-stone to entering ASEAN markets that have already taken to social media and other technological trends with the utmost alacrity. The Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia are among the most likely to mesh with Prezi as they possess the creative prerequisites and tech industries needed to quickly adopt the software.

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