Text is out, video is in – Wipster, Rollo Wenlock

Rollo Wenlock, co-founder of Wipster, has a vision for our preferred method of communication. He sees video being as ubiquitous as the written word in just a few years.

“In high school,” says Rollo, “instead of writing an essay, you’ll make a film and you’ll enter that to get your mark. On people’s websites, instead of having written collateral, you’ll have a video. To hire someone for a job, you’ll get them to make a video. To do an invite to a party, you’ll make a video. Video will be how you communicate. The written word has had its time. It was really great when they had the printing press. It was really great when they had typewriters. Now we’ve moved on and people want much richer experiences.”

Wipster, Rollo says, will be the product and the company that will help the world move into that era.

The problem Wipster solves is simple. People need to be able to use video to share ideas and information in a way that facilitates discussion, not just as a passive viewers. Wipster is not like YouTube, where you watch the video and that’s the end of the experience. Users discuss points in the video by pointing to the area of discussion and adding a comment. No more timecode references. No more large file transfers. Just your video, in the cloud, protected by bank-strength security, with designated people having a conversation around it.

It’s a great product, and Rollo knows that because people talk about it. That was the idea behind Wipster’s marketing all along.

“We’ve aimed for word of mouth to be the strongest marketing tool by having a piece of software that is really well designed, feels really good to use, and is joyful. We’ve found that everybody who’s coming on the app now is coming on from word of mouth. People who have used it before are telling their friends, telling their colleagues, putting out tweets about it, putting out Facebook posts about it, and writing blogs about it. All of that is word of mouth because they’ve had first contact with the application and enjoyed it so much that they just want to tell everyone. They’re not being paid to tell anyone. They’re not on a referral program or anything. And that has been the best thing – making a product that feels really good so people want to tell other people.”

Although Wipster launched just a year ago, it has already attracted over 2300 users from 51 different countries. For Rollo, that year has played out like a movie in itself.

Rollo Wenlock comes from a background of making films, music videos, and TV commercials, where a large portion of his job involved post-production.

“I realised there was a problem in being able to share the edited work with someone before it was finished. I saw a problem in a world I knew very well and then I found a solution,” explained. “Wipster became the solution to the problem that I was personally having making films.”

Idea in hand, Rollo strolled down to a cafe in Wellington called Southern Cross where Nick Churchouse, a people-connecter at Creative HQ, can allegedly be found every Tuesday morning at 10 am. Nick is a former finance and business journalist who was a founding member of the Lightning Lab startup accelerator. He’s just that guy. If he likes your idea and thinks it’s got legs, he’ll help you meet people in the industry in New Zealand and in San Francisco.

“So I went down to pitch him the idea,” Rollo said. “He thought it was pretty good and said he’d email everyone he knew and see if there would be anyone who could help me out.”

Nick sent out an email blast and Rollo received about 150 replies from a range of developers and designers. He wasn’t looking for someone with qualifications. He was looking for someone who could help him build a prototype.

“After interviewing a few people just on Skype or on the phone, I then wanted to meet one of them whose name is Nick Green. So I met with him in a cafe – this was 6 days after I had the idea now, at 11 o clock in the morning. Within half an hour I had said, ‘Do you want to be a co-founder in a company?’

 He said yes, and so he quit his job. We were then co-founders in a company with no money. And by 5 o’clock that afternoon he had built a working prototype that he emailed through and said, ‘Is this kind of what you were wanting?’ That kind of proved that he could do it.”

Four days after having his idea, Rollo had his CTO and a working prototype.

Wipster moves quick. Know the name.

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