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From Code to Blocks

Back in the good ole’ days, a business needed its own servers and engineers to meaningfully engage in the internet. It was a huge capital investment. Also, it took time to accomplish. But then came age of the website builders. Wordpress was first to the scene and suddenly anyone could make a blog. More business-oriented solutions came along shortly after, like Squarespace and Wix. Now, teams were able to sell online, provide customer support, and more or less run the business digitally. Mission accomplished. We did it. There’s nothing left to innovate. We reached “peak website”.

Not quite. The side effect of the website builder generation is that now there’s all this customer data we need to process, internal workflows we need to optimize, and marketing channels we need to target. Can the website builders do this? They try, but that’s not what they were designed to do.

Thankfully, there’s an emerging category of solutions that address these new, website-adjacent problems, and it’s worth noting that they achieve this through what we call the “blockficiation of concerns”. They’ll take something like processing customer data in an Excel sheet and turn it into distinct blocks of actions. You can join first names and last names to make a full name; that’s one block. You can attach customer details (like addresses) to their purchase history to see where an item sells the best; that’s another block. All while not having to learn a single excel formula and the ability to preview the outcome of the action to validate correctness.

This is actually what does. It’s absolutely brilliant. It feels like the interface you’ve always wanted for Excel or Google Sheets. It makes working with data an activity that is more visually defined, results-oriented, and contextualized to the business or domain. Parabola doesn’t seek to change Excel or Google Sheets, just how you and your team engage with them.

Likewise, helps businesses get more value from data by making it actionable. You can let specific team members view or update specific data, like a fulfillment team tracking orders; that’s one block. You can let clients access deliverables once they are set to “ready”; that’s another block. It makes digitizing internal workflows again more visually defined, results-oriented, and contextualized to the business or domain. Softr doesn’t seek to change client notifications or order fulfillment flows, just how you and your team can go about them.

What is BonViddy?

We like to think of BonViddy as a Softr for video content marketing. We usually think of video as an inherently creative endeavor, but you’d be surprised how much cold, hard data is needed to make a single video:

  • Image files like a company’s logo or a product screenshot

  • Video files like a screencast or live action

  • Audio files like background music, voice over, or sound effects

  • Font files for your business’s custom font

  • Icon files for your business’s custom icons

  • Primary components like text, shapes, animations, or transitions

There’s also a lot of repetition that goes into video making to ensure brand consistency and cohesiveness. Brands typically want video with the same intro or outro segments or perhaps the same music playing in the background at exactly the same volume from video to video.

Managing all of this data between marketers, videographers, and internal stakeholders is already hard enough. The problem is compounded by an increasingly video-first internet. Teams have to post more video, in more formats, across more marketing channels.

Our approach is the blockification of concerns for the video-making process. You can create a standard intro or outro block for your brand’s video compositions; that’s a block. You can make a video by stitching together different blocks, like a 5 second feature display followed by 5 seconds of a call to action. Or you can make a video from templates of blocks and data you’ve already uploaded, like logos or key messages. Your team can create custom blocks to use internally, so that you maintain creativity and uniqueness. Or you can rely on standard video blocks on the platform we’ve designed for common use cases.

What About Canva?

Canva is an amazing platform that brought image and video editing to the masses. Suddenly, you didn’t need to learn Photoshop or Lightroom to be able to edit or update a video. In a lot of ways, it’s similar to Wordpress or Wix. But Canva (and similar solutions) is not results-oriented, meaning the platform doesn’t lock you into making a perfect visual or video every time.

With Parabola or Softr, the output is predictable and designed to be immediately valuable. You just have to follow the onscreen instructions. With Canva, the output is not predictable and not designed to be immediately valuable. You have to supply the creative decisions and aesthetic skill to produce visual or video assets you can use.

This is because Canva as a product is just an editor, not an outcome. Making an visual that doesn’t look professional or isn’t appealing is still a correct use of Canva, technically speaking. But that’s the whole point we’re making. BonViddy isn’t an editor, it’s an outcome. You follow the onscreen instructions and the platform only lets you make a great video, every single time. And we’d be more than happy for you to use Canva to edit assets that you then bring into BonViddy when it’s time to put the video together.

Where Are We Now?

We’ve recently rolled out V1, which anyone can sign up for through the link below. Initially, our vision was template-oriented, like the video we posted at the beginning of this article. V1 does this really well, and we think it captures that concept of not being an editor but being an outcome. Each template lets you update background colors, supply your logo, change the text, and upload screenshots. You do this and you’ll get a beautiful MP4 you can download. The outcome is predictable and designed to be immediately valuable.

However, initial feedback from partners and early users has pushed us to pivot towards a more block-based approach. There was a lot of excitement and “ah” moments, but consistently there was also recommendations for more customization and creative input. People also told us that features like voice overs or audio is definitely a must for video content today, which we definitely agree with.

We’re incredibly proud of where we’ve taken our idea so far and that we have a functioning, tangible product, even if its barebones and there’s an odd bug here and there. But we recognize that customer acquisition will probably need more industry standard features and also a bit more creative customization.

The Road Ahead

For V2, our aim is to build out the blockification of our current platform, in addition to those features we’re currently missing like audio and live action video. We’re planning to post our thought process around features, technology, and business decisions as they come. We hope that taking a more build-in-public approach will get us feedback and inputs sooner from videographers, marketers, and developers alike.

On that note, if you’re interested in our platform or this is a real pain point for your team, reach out to us for a meet-and-greet demo. We’re always happy to meet like-minded people in this space and make those personal connections. Also, it really helps us if you follow/subscribe our page so that we have a way to send you updates on our progress building V2 and you have a way to give us comments and feedback.

Meet the Team

Mike Mintz is a videographer and filmmaker based in the US with over +10 years experience making videos for tech start ups and enterprises. He’s the one that makes the templates. You can connect with Mike on LinkedIn.

Ziyad El Baz is a software engineer based in Europe with experience working in enterprises and start ups in the financial, education, and music industries. He’s the one that makes the platform. You can connect with Ziyad on LinkedIn.

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