The man who crosses deserts
Oscar Chabrera has one of the hardest jobs at any start-up company: raising money to fund research and development. As co-founder and project coordinator at Spanish company Vilynx, Chabrera tells us why he became an entrepreneur and how to finance innovation.
“From homemade films of cats and babies to serious news reports, we’re bombarded by millions of hours worth of video on the internet every day. Vilynx can sort the brilliant from the banal,” says Spaniard Oscar Chabrera, thanks to a cloud-based software sold by his company. “There is an ever growing number of videos on the internet, Facebook, Youtube and elsewhere, but unlike text, video is like a library without any catalogue or a book without an index,” says Chabrera.
Vilynx’s software analyses videos and extracts five-second highlight clips that are used by customers as a teaser or preview to get people to click through on video content. Vilynx also automatically generates intelligent tags that help index the videos.
While it was business partner Juan Carlos Rivero who spotted the niche in organising video, Chabrera is in charge of raising grant money to develop the product. “The hardest part of the job is when you are raising another round of financing, then you are alone because you have to protect the rest of the business team from worrying,” he says. “Venture capital gives you enough water to get to the next oasis but you’re in the desert until you get solid sales and become cash flow positive.”
Luckily, Chabrera got early lessons in managing money and assessing risks. While he was still a student, his grandfather, who grew orange trees in Valencia on the south-eastern coast of Spain, entrusted him to invest some of his savings in the stock exchange. He learnt a lot about investing and running a business from his grandfather and father. “My grandfather managed to grow the size of the farm left to him by his father by five times and my father grew the amount of hectares by another five times,” says Chabrera.
His father introduced new varieties of oranges onto the market carefully studying specialist fruit growing magazines. He moved onto new varieties before everyone followed the trend and the prices would drop based on the added supply. “He was proactive which taught me a valuable lesson on how to adapt in a market,” says Chabrera.
That entrepreneurial spirit rubbed off on Chabrera. After studying business and IT, he jumped right into entrepreneurial world of start-ups. Before graduation he taught unemployed Business graduates about computers in oder to earn extra money. (“I was teaching them something they should have learned at the University.” he says, adding: “I would always worry that they’d ask me if I had a degree!”)
Later he joined a home networking start-up, Gigle Networks, where he was finance director. Gigle ended up being aquired by BROADCOM in 2010 which led him to help found Vilynx.
Intel and Amazon are impressed
ViLynx had to adapt the original product to find a paying market. Initially, the company sold its application to individuals but then switched to businesses when they saw that their consumer product was not ramping as fast as expected
They now sell to the world’s largest media companies, including U.S. media power house CBS, Spanish newspaper El País and French magazine Au Feminin. Vilynx’s five-second movie summaries – think trailers for movies – help redirect viewers back from social media sites, boosting traffic of the content owner and ultimately increasing advertising revenues.
Vilynx’s product allows more targetted advertising and has other commercial applications like allowing doctors to carry out online consultations. Specialists can speed through videos that show the healing progress of a burn injury, a commercial use developed in EUREKA-funded projects Hipermed & E3.
Amazon and Intel think Vilynx’s solution has so much potential they have partnered Vilynx to help advance the technology.
With more clients signing up, Chabrera estimates the company's revenue will exceed 100 M € in the next two to three years. His dream to list the company on the stock exchange may not be far off.
“Start-up life is filled with many ups and downs,” he says. “Entrepreneurs need to make a plan and then execute to it. They also need to expect things to take twice as long.”
Oscar Chabrera’s advice to other innovators
1. Think about whether the market is ready to buy your product. The market is not always there when you need it.
2. A financial plan is a roadmap. You’ll need more time and money than you expect.
3. Surround yourself with the best possible human capital you can.