Northern Imagination LLC was founded in 2013 by entrepreneur Dorrian Porter as an incubator for creative projects, ideas and inventions. The company’s goal is to advance new ideas in any area that can impact the wellbeing and happiness of people, especially involving film or photography and ideally related to education and poverty. As one of his first projects, Porter sought to advance the recognition of a masterful scientist who often has been overlooked in the story of America’s technology development.
Porter established a fundraising campaign, using the Kickstarter crowd-funding site, to build a statue of Nikola Tesla and place it in front of a building in Palo Alto, Calif. The statue would host a free Wi-Fi hotspot and a time capsule to be opened in 2043.
Porter felt that Tesla was an under-recognized inventor who, he explains, “was instrumental to our mainstay system of alternating current electricity transfer and made hundreds of significant and groundbreaking inventions in areas of wireless energy, wireless communication, magnetism, radio, X-rays, cosmic rays, radar, robotics, engine-powered aircraft and much more.”
The Challenge: Raising Awareness
To craft the statue and install it would require a budget of at least $123,000. To obtain the funding, it was critical that potential donors in the Silicon Valley become aware of the project and of Tesla’s contributions. “In promoting the Kickstarter campaign, telling a story is important to getting people to understand what you’re doing,” Porter says. “I was looking for additional ways to create awareness and conceived of the idea of creating an animated story in which Tesla would pitch his inventions to modern-day VCs.”
The Solution: A Hilarious Vyond Video
To create his animated story, Porter talked with two firms that could produce the video from scratch, one of them in North America and the other one abroad. “As I awaited their proposals,” he recalls, “I explored what I could do and discovered Vyond online. After playing around with the software for a few minutes, I realized that I could achieve the level of animation I wanted with the tools provided. By the time I got the proposals back, I had decided on Vyond.”
Porter was especially pleased with the range of characters, movements and the attractiveness of Vyond animation. “I could create the characters and themes I wanted and had flexibility with the props and their movements,” he says. “Other sites offer out-of-the-box animation, but the quality of the animation is not up to par with Vyond.”
He says he was excited about how simple Vyond was to use. “The scene-by-scene building was very intuitive and easy,” he notes.
The result was a hilarious four-minute animated video in which venture capitalists around a conference table raise all sorts of irrelevant issues and questions while Tesla struggles to convince them to let him demonstrate his inventions for transmitting electricity wirelessly.
“My rational was awareness,” Porter says. “I could tell people about a statue, but having those people share the video was better, and they were more likely to share something true, relevant and funny.”
Watch the video here:
The Results: Exceeding the Fundraising Goal
Porter’s Vyond video, posted on YouTube, generated 185,000 views in the first 30 days. “The video was the number-one external source for driving leads toward the campaign,” Porter reports, “and second overall to the Kickstarter site itself. Actually, I believe people may have viewed the video first and then searched for the Kickstarter page.”
Moreover, the video became a topic of lively conversation in the Silicon Valley media and among venture capitalists. Porter’s Vyond production was featured online at Venture Beat, GigaOM, the Silicon Valley Business Journal and IEEE Spectrum, and the campaign stimulated extensive coverage in the San Jose Mercury News.
On Twitter, venture capitalists drew attention to the video with tweets like these:
“Love this: Nikola Tesla pitches Valley VCs”—Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz
“What Nikola Tesla vs. VCs video says about state of Silicon Valley. Patience is a virtue…but is in short supply” – AOL Founder Steve Case
“Must watch hilarious video on startup pitching/VC by my friend @dgp to support a great cause.”—Mark Suster of GRP Partners
“Freakin’ hilarious…Nikola Tesla pitching Silicon Valley VCs”—Michael Levit of Founders Den
With the increased awareness produced by the Vyond video, the campaign far exceeded its goal by raising $127,000 from 722 backers.
Vyond was so successful that Porter plans to use it for future projects as well. “I continue to see the ability to add animation for major or minor pieces of video work we plan to do,” he says. “Having a tool that makes it easy to put content out is important. With Vyond I was able to get something out much faster than by using a third-party solution. And I was able to do so much more cost-efficiently. To tell stories quickly and easily, Vyond is an obvious choice for people looking to get the word out on their projects.”
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