Working in startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) usually mean the employee has to wear many hats.
Marketers for instance, may have to take up multiple roles, doing everything from SEO and copywriting, to designing.
Singapore startup OFFEO wants to resolve the pain points for these resource-tight and time-strapped marketers, helping them create content easily and quickly with their platform.
This free social video creator is built by the team behind OFFSET, a local motion graphic and animation studio that has served clients like Google, Facebook, Instagram, DBS, and Singapore Airlines, among others.
Founders of OFFSET and OFFEO, Clement Chia and David Lee, are longtime friends who bonded over their passion for motion graphics — but they first met as dancers when they attended dance competitions.
Grooving To The Same Beat
“We picked up hip hop dance about 14 to 15 years ago, and that experience has been instrumental for our careers today,” 32-year-old Clement said.
They went to different schools but would see each other around at dance competitions and events.
Both of them connected through a mutual friend at a “drinking session” and they clicked right away.
“We talked about motion graphics the whole evening — about our idols, design techniques, styles, and we even shared the same dream of becoming one of the best motion design artists in the world,” Clement recalled.
They were so engrossed in their conversation, they barely spoke to their own friends that night.
Clement worked at advertising agencies like Iris Worldwide and Upfront media after he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.
He also holds a Diploma in Design and Visual Communication at Gnomon School of Visual Effects that’s based in Los Angeles, California, USA.
As for David, he pursued a career in broadcast media, working at HBO and Starhub after graduating Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) with a Diploma in Digital Media Design.
The 31-year-old said, “Both of us knew that we could contribute and achieve more venturing on our own.”
“For me, working in a corporate environment was getting too comfortable; I was ready to take more risks and heavier responsibilities to grow as a creative.”
Before Clement quit the agency world, he was the head of a creative team, David told Vulcan Post.
“But ultimately, he wanted to focus more on storytelling through motion design and video content.”
“In an agency, [Clement] sometimes felt restricted in the way stories were told as some prefer to approach a conventional method,” David shared.
“So, he decided to bet on his own craft and knowledge.”
Before starting OFFSET in 2013, they freelanced from home after they left their jobs.
When they had the chance to work together on the same project, they realised that working together was a lot more fun.
It was also easier to be creative as they could bounce ideas off of each other.
“Having a common goal and hunger for success [made] it easy to decide to start the company together,” David said.
In hindsight, David believes their ‘dance days’ greatly influenced them in their decision to venture into the creation of motion graphic videos.
“In both dance and motion design, it requires a good rhythm influenced by good music,” he said.
“In the same way, we visualise a dance choreography and we apply it when we craft a motion design piece for our clients.”
Offsetting The Trouble For SMEs
In its fourth year, OFFSET became one of the top motion design agencies in Singapore, having created commercials and content for international brands like Nike and Unilever, as well.
They are also the preferred creative partner for Facebook in Asia Pacific (APAC).
In 2017, Clement and David came up with the idea of OFFEO, and they launched the first version of the platform in early 2018.
“At OFFSET, we often receive enquiries from small businesses, and our quotations always scare them off,” Clement shared.
“We believe that small businesses should have equal opportunities to create good video content like the major brands so that they can truly compete for the attention they need.”
He added that there should be a way for everyone to create content easily without spending too much or having to learn complex software.
“The first version was badly received due to many limitations,” Clement said.
“We made a call to take down the platform totally and rebuild the whole architecture of the site. OFFEO was relaunched in October 2018.”
The founders shared in a blog post that it was a challenge to build something that wasn’t “available in the market” yet, and it took them four UI/UX iterations before users started enjoying the platform.
In June this year, OFFEO celebrated 200,000 video exports.
Launching OFFEO separately from OFFSET allows the different teams to focus on their respective missions and directions, targeting different markets.
Growth for each company will be easier to manage as well.
Clement explained that OFFSET specialises in high-end video production for major brands to solve specific campaign problems, while OFFEO works to empower marketing teams in SMEs to create effective videos by themselves.
Their content creation approach takes the form of motion design because they think that even if there’s only just one product image, it is possible to create “attention-grabbing” videos for social media.
On top of that, OFFEO is free, letting casual users make up to three projects of 30-second social videos and access to watermarked music.
Its affordably-priced monthly subscription plan of just $19 per month lets content creators create unlimited projects, access to commercially licensed music, and own the license to their 30-second videos.
Clement explained, “Our priority is to let as many people as possible try and fall in love with our product instantly.”
“We settled on a freemium model so that users can try every single function we have to offer and we wanted to keep it simple and affordable for most SMEs around the world.”
After conducting their market research on different SaaS (software-as-a-service) companies and consumer interviews, they found that $19 a month is a “sweet spot”.
“Now, no matter how small the company, there’s no excuse not to create a good video content to communicate with their audience,” said Clement.
Simply Make Great Videos
Since relaunching OFFEO in October 2018, the platform caught the attention of startup accelerators, major brands, and other SaaS companies who want to share it with their own users.
They are in the midst of becoming a Facebook Marketing Partner, where the platform will be used in workshops for SMEs.
“One of the challenges for us is finding the balance between [adding] more functions and the ease of use,” Clement shared.
“As the platform is built for marketing teams in SMEs, it is important that they can achieve good results in less time and effort.”
“Whenever we add new functions, it will potentially add complexity for the users, [so that’s] why we are constantly thinking about how to tweak the UI for a better experience.”
Now, they are using a new framework to improve the user experience to be smoother and faster.
They are also working to significantly reduce the export speed of the videos, which will make room for them to develop new functions.
For all of their careers, Clement and David used sophisticated software like Adobe After Effects and Photoshop to create their work.
“While these are great for professionals, it is extremely complex for marketers,” Clement told us.
“Learning [to use] OFFEO is as easy as learning how to use Powerpoint: easy yet retaining the creative control every brand needs.”
He explained that the conceptualising process and the creation and preparation of graphic assets take up the most time when it comes to making a motion graphic video.
So OFFEO simplifies those processes for users with thousands of templates they can use to get started.
There are also thousands of graphics and effects to drag-and-drop into the video easily.
Clement claimed, “If a users starts from one of our template, it should take about 10 to 15 minutes.”
“To utilise [OFFEO’s] full potential and start the creation process from scratch, on average, it [would take] about one hour.”
People who use OFFEO come from small businesses, marketing agencies, and are individual freelancers, according to Clement.
He also noted that many of them are in the ecommerce, travel, real estate, and F&B industries.
OFFEO users also use it to make festive greetings and birthday videos.
They have partnered with different startups and SME communities and teamed up with industry experts to create tutorials, content, and workshop to raise awareness about OFFEO.
The team also built free online tools to boost their SEO (search engine optimsation).
“We have a free logo animation page where visitors can create free logo animations easily,” Clement said.
“Our Marvel-themed logo animation performs really well. Try searching ‘Marvel logo’ and we rank among the top pages now.”
Since launching in 2017, OFFEO has welcomed 100,000 users with 250,000 projects created to date.
The platform has also seen a 1% conversion rate to premium users and has over 700 active monthly paying subscribers.
Half of their users are based in Asia and the rest are from the US, UK, Australia, and Brazil.
The OFFEO team comprises of seven people and they will be focusing on hiring new developers.
Plans to extend the video length time beyond 30 seconds are in the pipeline, Clement revealed.
On how he intends to scale OFFEO, Clement said that they will be building on their foundations, fostering a strong community who will advocate for the platform.
“OFFEO will be focusing on building partnerships with SaaS businesses and business communities who have audiences we can mutually add value in.”
“We will also be rolling out an affiliate programme to encourage influencers and experts to share and create video tutorials and content.”
In the coming months, OFFEO users can expect “a lot of new content, tutorials, and inspiration” that will help them get started easily.
They will also be introducing student plans for schools, targeting at polytechnics first as they think that it’s important to start learning early, as students can bring those skills to their workplaces.
In an effort to localise their platform for users in the region, the team will be travelling to improve the visibility of OFFEO.
“We have started with Thailand and Malaysia, and there will be more to come.”
Clement added, “We will also be partnering with Facebook to run one-day sprint workshops to help SMEs create compelling creative video suites.”
OFFEO is exploring to ways to make smart video creation at scale, where the platform will generate a variety of video types.
“Users can create personalised videos for their clients so they can use it not only in social media, but also in email, Messenger, or other communication platforms,” Clement explained.
The team will also introduce a marketplace where designers can contribute templates and graphic assets, and musicians and voiceover artists can provide their service or works.
With an enhanced ecosystem, users will have access to a vast library of material to fulfill their creative needs.
Clement also said they have plans to launch a mobile app so users can have an all-rounded experience.
Featured Image Credit: OFFEO