MAY 30 2022
Published in the Australian Financial Review
When former Canva account executive Gary Zurnamer told his wife he was considering leaving the $55 billion private tech unicorn to start his own business, he was met with scepticism.
Her reaction – “but it’s Canva” – was fair enough, Mr Zurnamer said, because it was one of the toughest decisions he had ever had to make.
But the decision in late 2020 to do just that has paid off in spades, with the digital marketer turned content creator and tech entrepreneur having raised $8 million in an oversubscribed seed round, led by OIF Ventures and Stage 2 Capital, for his video testimonial and collection platform Vouch.
“It was a hard decision, but I felt like there was an opportunity in this space,” he told The Australian Financial Review.
“I had absolute conviction in what we could build, but it was the one company in Australia that was hard to walk away from.”
Mr Zurnamer is one of a growing group of entrepreneurs to have emerged from companies such as Atlassian, Canva and Culture Amp.
Having started his career as a 19-year-old running social media for the NRL, Mr Zurnamer used short video content to engage fans. He then moved to London and worked for The Iconic, building out its sports marketing division, before joining Stackla.
It was when he joined Canva in 2019, though, that his attention was captured once again by the opportunity, and issues, with video content.
“They’d created incredible content for their regular product, but not for the enterprise piece, and I was tasked with selling the product to enterprise and I thought telling customer stories was the way to do that,” Mr Zurnamer said.
“They had all this resourcing and an incredible video team, but the world went remote [in 2020] and the video team was already stacked with other tasks.
“You used to have to put people in a room with a camera crew and lighting for seven hours, and that’s a lot to put customers through.”
Mr Zurnamer teamed up with technical co-founder David Stirk, who he met thanks to an introduction from a local investor, and the pair built the first version of their video platform in a few months.
The platform allows users to create questions and share a single recorder link with multiple respondents, allowing them to collect video at scale.
They can then edit and download the responses, with their automatically generated transcriptions, or embed the clips on popular platforms. It has integrations with the likes of Slack, Microsoft Teams, Notion and Hubspot.
Though it started out as an easy way for businesses to collect customer testimonials, its users have rapidly expanded its use case, with Vouch now also being used for employee onboarding and feedback. One UK furniture removal chain is using it to get customers to submit videos of their homes for quoting purposes.
“Companies have taken us in crazy directions,” Mr Zurnamer said.
“During COVID-19, people were having remote funerals, and we even had people using Vouch for remote eulogies.”
Mr Zurnamer said the company had, like Canva, adopted a “freemium” model in which users could use the core product for free, but pay for additional features.
Since launching in March 2021, it has had 100 per cent-plus month-on-month revenue growth and counts employees of Atlassian, Canva, Dropbox and Culture Amp as some of its early users.
It has been used to collect more than 23,000 videos, totalling more than 9000 minutes.
Culture Amp, which is now a paying customer, started using the product while it was still in beta testing.
“What I learnt from the Canva founders and senior leadership team is that it’s okay to build a beautiful, amazing, free product. You can monetise it. That’s a shift in the traditional way of selling,” Mr Zurnamer said.
“I was exposed to the hyper growth, scale and saw what is possible. It sets the bar for what is possible for [the next generation of founders] and reorients where you can go in your head.”
As well as OIF and Stage 2 Capital, it had previously scored funding from angel investors including Twitter product lead Oji Udezue and Archangel Ventures partner Rayn Ong.
“Video provides significant ROI, but while demand continues to grow across all business functions, production methods remain slow and expensive,” OIF’s Laurence Schwartz said.
“Vouch is the first team to address this problem and their customers are constantly discovering new use cases."