Doug Dibert is the founder of Magnfi, a company that totally automates the process of capturing video testimonials from happy clients. He says the Magnfi tool is simple to use and gives customers a fully produced video testimonial that’s ready to share.
Why did you start your business?
I’ve been in video marketing since 2005. I owned a video marketing agency called Crossing River Studios. I was always looking to the future of where video was heading. I’m an avid reader. I was reading a book about how to forecast changing trends in your industry. I was also reading up about automation. I just got to thinking that the most valuable videos we produce for our clients are customer testimonials. I decided to find a way to automate the entire process so customer testimonial videos could be filmed on a phone or web cam. I also wanted to find a way to produce the videos so companies wouldn’t even need to hire an editor. After a year of research, I developed the process and hired the app developer that created the Magnfi tool.
How did you fund the business at the start?
I considered using a business line of credit, using the equity in our home as the collateral. But, thankfully for me, my father and I always wanted to go in to business together. He had just sold one of his businesses. When this idea came up, we decided to start the company together. We used the money from his business sale to start the company. It’s been a great relief because I don’t have to worry about debt on the company.
I always thought about the minimum viable product to get started selling. I don’t believe that throwing cash at things will solve a problem. We watched every penny and thought through every decision. The book that really inspired me was “The Power of Broke” by Damon John. A lot of great innovations in our company have come about as a result of using that mindset.
Managing the Company
How do you manage cash flow?
We keep that same thought mentality even though things are a lot better than when we first launched. It’s too easy to throw cash at a problem – that kills creativity. We set limits for what we want done. If we need something done, like an enhancement or something, we set a budget and stick to that even if we have money to spare. Time and time again, we will come up with a solution and stay on budget.
What’s the most challenging thing about running the business?
When working with web developers, it’s a challenge to make sure that you’re communicating your vision of how you want your app to be born into the world. Especially, when you’re not a coding person, like me.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running the business?
The most rewarding thing is allowing businesses small or large to capture video testimonials quickly, easily, and cost-effectively. They don’t need to hire a video production company to come in and film. We get great feedback from our customers about how our product made their lives better.
What I’ve Learned
What’s the biggest mistake you made when you were starting out?
When you’re building an app, it’s important to see if you can get it protected so nobody can steal your original idea. And, when you’re working with a web development company and getting bids and proposals, make sure you dot the i’s and cross the t’s. That way, not only do you understand the functionality you’re getting, but the app developer can understand exactly what you’re looking for. I had a vision in my head about how I wanted our app to flow, but the developer had a different vision. Thankfully, the team I worked with was forgiving of me when I didn’t clearly explain how things were supposed to flow and function.
What’s the smartest thing you did when you were starting out?
We acted like we had no money to work with. Even if you have plenty of funding, force yourself to be creative with what you have.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Pray about it. See where God will lead you. Talk to close family and friends and ask their honest opinions about the business. Don’t get caught up in the “American Idol” syndrome where everyone thinks they’re an amazing singer until Simon Cowell tells them they’re awful. Their family and friends have encouraged them and made them think they’re fantastic. You need to find a trusted advisor to give it to you straight. From there, test it out. Find the minimal viable product to get started. We started with a super basic system, let people try it out, and made tweaks and changes from there.
What’s next for Magnfi?
We are in the midst of developing our API so Magnfi will integrate into existing business platform software like CRMs that are Microsoft Dynamics-based.