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Venturing Forth: Visionogy

28 July 2020

The article at a glance

Helping companies tell a big story in short bursts. When it comes to video advertising in the age of distraction and constant …

Helping companies tell a big story in short bursts.

Professional photographer working at office desk.

When it comes to video advertising in the age of distraction and constant scrolling, brevity is a tactic that companies and agencies often use to cut through the noise. But presenting different facets of a firm’s brand through multiple short video clips can be both time consuming and costly.

Two Cambridge Executive MBA (EMBA) participants have developed a platform to make video advertising budgets go farther by helping teams work smarter.

Anne Spulber, Cambridge EMBA
Anne Spulber (EMBA 2019)

Yingbo Li (EMBA 2019) founded Visionogy, an inventive software as a service (SaaS) platform that “batches” and “abbreviated” longer-form videos using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. By consolidating a brand’s existing audio, visual and text-based advertising elements, the Visionogy platform can recommend and generate content in minutes.

“Our mission is to help companies do more with the brand assets they have,” says London-based Anne Spulber (EMBA 2019), Visionogy’s Chief Operations Officer, who met Yingbo on the EMBA programme. “There’s a huge amount of repurposing value in the assets many companies already have. Our mission is to help companies unlock that value without having to make expensive creative commissions every time they need new ad content.”

Anne and Yingbo said the venture received seed money totalling $50,000 from friends and family. It secured a grant from the Chinese government for $350,000 and is in the process of seeking a grant from the UK government. The venture, which charges a monthly subscription fee, has initially launched for clients in the UK and China and aims in 2020 to build its client base and continue to improve its technical capacity.

Yingbo Li, Cambridge EMBA
Yingbo Li (EMBA 2019)

“The format of many long-form advertising videos lends itself to abbreviating and batching sections into shorter clips, either retaining the original information flow or through new narrative adaptations,” says Yingbo, the company’s CEO. “The algorithm we’ve developed allows our clients to produce short professional videos with no personal experience of video editing.”

Visionogy developed its patented visual information organisation algorithm with social media video advertising in mind when variations on a set of core messages can be effective for targeting customers. Its clients, which include London-based cosmetic dental surgery Dr Macau, Shaper Impact Capital and fabric trader Merino Brothers, are using videos produced by the platform on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

“We have developed our offerings with small marketing agencies, SMEs and social media influencers in mind,” says Anne. “In the same way that Wix democratised web design, opening up previously complex concepts to the layperson, we want to do the same for video production.”

The concept for Visionogy was sparked by a meeting of senior-level professionals from very different disciplines. Originally from Romania, Anne has a background in marketing and creative strategy, multimedia and technology, while China-born Yingbo pursued an academic path, working in various postdoctoral capacities on AI and video processing projects. The team collaborated on a project for their EMBA, realising they had complementary skill sets and a shared vision for the incorporation of AI into video advertising.

While Yingbo has co-founded a company in the past, Visionogy is Anne’s first entrepreneurial venture – a path, she says, that was made clearer and more rewarding by her experience on the EMBA programme so far.

“Building something we’re passionate about from the ground up, finding creative solutions to problems and maximising our productivity has been a great experience. It would be impossible to achieve what we have done so far without belief in our vision,” she says.

Yingbo and Anne came to the Cambridge Executive MBA to develop a broad base of business skills to complement their technical expertise, and they cite EMBA modules in corporate finance, marketing management and organisational behaviour as key to the development of the company so far. Having met and partnered on the programme, they are fervent advocates for the networking opportunities the programme presents. Yingbo and Anne have also enlisted two non-executive advisors from their EMBA cohort and the wider University of Cambridge network.

“The relationships you build on the programme allow you to expand your professional network, build confidence and your knowledge base – everybody knows somebody that can help you on your way,” says Yingbo. “The networking potential is huge.”