We had the pleasure of talking to StartUp Valley Magazine about our founding of VARYCON. About our vision, the solution and the target group for our Creative Automation platform.
My name is Lars Reinartz, together with Christian Behrens and Dr. Bernd Brassel, I am one of the three founders and managing directors of VARYCON. Since 2019, we have been developing our B2B software platform to help companies, in particular larger enterprises, to create tailor-made content for their international media production faster, easier and more cost-effectively.
Today, brands need to reach their customers with graphic and video content on different channels as quickly and efficiently as possible. Accordingly, personalization, internationalization, scalability as well as easy adaptations are topics that many marketers and companies are concerned with when it comes to content production. Our team of content and AI experts has many years of experience in media production and knows how important the aforementioned points are, but especially why they often lead to problems when multiple parties are involved in the process.
For this reason, we have combined our skills and experience in creative content production with our expertise in computer science and software development to create VARYCON, which is a digital operating system that makes it easy for everyone – from interns to marketing directors – to create scalable cross-format media content without having to rely on external service providers. With our software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution we help our enterprise customers save time and money and achieve the fastest possible time-to-market for their content. These factors are becoming increasingly important, especially for larger companies, in order to reach their customers directly and, above all, optimally with customized content on various online and offline channels.
As a founding team, we have already worked together on various projects and companies for several years. Before we started developing VARYCON in 2019, we noticed in our work with our predecessor company RECORDBAY, a media production agency, how lengthy the processes in creative content production are. From the first briefing to the delivery of final, and often adapted, content pieces, the production process always involved many external service providers who often only unnecessarily complicated and delayed individual steps.
This got us thinking and prompted us to design a digital "Creative Content Automation" platform. VARYCON is the result of this ideation and design process. By now, our B2B SaaS tool is being successfully used by numerous customers as an operating system for their enterprise content. After several years of development work, we are 'corporate-ready' with our platform – which is proof for us that there is not only a market and a need for our software, but that we can also serve it perfectly with our proprietary solution.
We are constantly researching the latest digital tools and developments as well as the marketing-related problems of large companies in different industries. Accordingly, we are always working on further developing VARYCON for content creation and distribution on various online and offline channels. Among others, Artificial intelligence (AI) is an important topic related to our work at the moment. The generation, analysis and use of data after the elimination of 3rd party cookies and thus the expansion of the 'production line' for enterprise content are also significant topics for us, on which we are already working.
Taking all this into consideration, our vision is to offer our customers an always up-to-date and optimal B2B SaaS solution to make their content production as efficient and automated as possible.
To this end, we do not simply provide VARYCON as a digital operating system, but also continuously improve our product in close exchange with our customers. Our goal is to offer our enterprise clients a comprehensive and holistic approach to solve their pain points. This starts with the analysis of their problems and the definition of clear goals, continues with the establishment of VARYCON inside a company, including all interfaces and legals, and ends with the onboarding of employees and the establishment of feedback and review workshops to make the use of our tool even more efficient.
So far, we have financed our company completely independently and thus, as founders, we were always in control of our development. This allowed us to create our product without any dependencies, always pursuing our mission and vision since the start. On the one hand, this helped us to clearly think through all necessary steps up to the current state of VARYCON, but at the same time we carried the risk of not having a "backup" in case things got tight or we made a wrong decision.
With the help of our first major customer, we were able to build up a lot of know-how in the early years on how to successfully establish a platform like VARYCON inside a client’s organization. We were able to gain a lot of important insights into which interfaces are needed, how optimal processes look like and which legal requirements have to be considered. In the meantime, VARYCON has various interfaces, offers an SSO and has been 'penetration tested' through its use in various companies.
We have already completely refinanced our own investments for the software development for over a year and are now ready for further expansion of our product and company.
Our solution is primarily aimed at marketers and brand managers. From static posts or animated content for virtual experiences to professional TV production including distribution, every trained employee can produce content for all channels and in formats relevant to them. Thanks to our integrated approval processes and a rights and role system, content can be created by any employee, but not directly published by everyone. In this way, we create more flexibility in the steps before the final creation of content, which can then be distributed directly to the right channels. Since VARYCON is not a niche solution that can only be used to generate social media posts, the decision-makers for the use of our software are often also the company's internal purchasing department, business unit directors or transformation managers.
For us, the primary goal is that VARYCON’s users can create their required content easily and quickly in a highly professional quality. Our user journeys for this are very intuitive, and all process steps are supported by clear instructions and manuals within the tool. In addition, we train individual users individually before they start using our software and each customer is assigned a Customer Success Manager who is on hand to answer any questions.
It is important to us that no background in video editing, 3D design or design in general is required to create content with VARYCON. The individual professional tools that are part of our operating system run in the background for the user – all you have to do is select what you want and enter a headline and price, for example. The aesthetics are then added automatically based on the corporate identity of the company.
In simple words, you can say: Users can directly implement any of their content ideas, which they would usually formulate in a briefing for external agencies, with the help of VARYCON. You get the finished results immediately and do not have to wait longer than anticipated for it, coordinate several iterations with different people and agencies, or deal with unforeseen higher costs.
We are continuously improving our platform and increasing the number of its features to further expand the content production pipeline on our customers’ side. We have been working with AI tools already for quite some time – on the one hand for creative production (generation of voice-overs, image composing and outpainting, etc.), but also for data analysis, so that we can use customer data even better in media content production. There is still a lot to do in this area, which makes it an extremely exciting field for us, and one that is also becoming increasingly relevant and interesting for our customers with the elimination of 3rd party cookies. It is our goal that five years from now, VARYCON will be the most sought-after tool for easy in-house media production on the market, used by many companies to generate scalable and on-demand content – no matter for which format and channel.
1. Don't be afraid to be first to market.
Even if there is no direct market for your product, tool or service yet, or no direct competition, that does not mean it is not needed. It might take more explaining and talking to potential customers until they see the need and are convinced, but it will certainly be worth it.
2. Don't be afraid of competition.
Competition always means something good: there is interest in your market and a potential customer base – otherwise no one else would bet on an idea like yours. You can learn from your competition and even adapt your approach to sales and marketing based on others’ activities.
3. Don't overthink everything.
It is clear that rashly moving forward carries a lot of risk and, most importantly, can lead to things having to be done over and over again. But it is just as inefficient to second-guess and rethink decisions too many times before you tackle them. Theory is never the same as practice and falling down is part of being an entrepreneur. The important thing is to keep getting back up every time!