Drew Banks, Prezi: From An Eastern-European Startup To A Global Company

Drew Banks, Prezi: From An Eastern-European Startup To A Global Company

The second day of Spark.me conference in Montenegro featured a number of exciting speakers, among whom was Drew Banks from Prezi. He is currently the Head of International at this company and he gave the audience a better insight into how Prezi started, what are some of the things they’re currently doing and how they hope to avoid falling into chasm which has taken it’s toll among peer tech entrepreneurs.

Banks started off his lecture by saying that Prezi was founded in April of 2009. It’s founders Adam Somlai-Fischer (architect), Peter Halacsy (professor) and Peter Arvai (businessmen) came from different backgrounds but they’ve managed to create a service which disrupted an industry dominated by PowerPoint for more than 20 years.

The service was first created by Adam who needed a better way to present his architectural work. He coded each of his Prezis separately until Halascy, a former assistant professor of New Media at the Budapest University of Technology, convinced him to commercialize the software and create a web-based editor. Peter Arvai joined the team soon afterwards and three co-founders started the work on the service.

 TED Success And First Investment

Focusing on education and business, the team has managed to secure talks with TED and convinced Chris Andresen to use Prezi during one of his TED talks in 2010. This gave the company much needed visibility in the US. After opening offices in Silicon Valley their first US customer came, and in 2011. the company raised 14 million dollars even though they were already profitable.

 The best way to get funding is to not look for one. Simply do your job and the money will come to you. Investors know where to look.

Working from Budapst and San Francisco, the team has soon realized that they need to introduce collaboration which was the next feature that came to Prezi. Desktop and mobile applications followed on and in just 18 months Prezi was already used by 1.5 million users. Banks points out that one of the reasons the company is so successful is they have a clear market strategy – they focused on education, business and conferences.

Drew pointed out couple of facts about investors:

 No matter how much VC’s can seem intimidating you absolutely have to talk to them. And not just them – if you want to call yourself an entrepreneur you have to go out there are talk to lots of potential investors, customers, etc. Bare in mind that investors usually don’t know your business as well as you do, and although they have the capital that will enable your company to grow, you should never feel unconfident about what you do.

Thanks to an awesome product, language localization and other features Prezi is now used by more than 40 million people in both education and business. Company’s ultimate goal is to reach 2 billion users, however that is yet another chasm that has to be crossed – they hope that they will do so by focusing more on enterprise! 


Marko Mudrinić

Marko is an undergraduate student based in Belgrade. Majoring in Journalism he's interested in digital publishing, startups and new technology. He currently writes for Balkan's leading Internet magazine Netokracija about local startups scene.

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