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We at Daily BR!NK love to introduce you to the people behind today’s groundbreaking projects. After taking a little break, we thought it would be very appropriate to feature the founders of a platform that is literally changing the way in which we tells stories. Without a doubt, most of you have had to sit through endless and convoluted Powerpoint presentations at work or in the classroom that bored you instead of enhancing your interest in the subject matter. Another alternative (in the form of a non-linear presentation using an infinite canvas) called Prezi came to life in 2007 and has been growing ever since. More appealing visually, more engaging content-wise, and more dynamic in the way the presentation unfolds, Prezi’s secret lies behind the three brilliant (Hungarian) minds that are running the company. Check out the one-minute explanatory video below and meet Peter Arvai, Peter Halacsi, and Adam Somlai-Fischer.


 

Peter Arvai, Founder & CEO

 

After four years, Prezi is becoming a widely-used platform and gaining prevalence everywhere around the globe. What keeps it exciting for you?

 

The most important is my love for interesting ideas. Prezi is a great tool to collect ideas that are more complex than a tweet and less detailed than a written document — and that is exactly the type of ideas I like working with. The Prezi people are also some of the greatest folks I’ve ever worked with. It is really great to see how we built a company and a product together.

 

The people at TED gave you twenty-five minutes to convince them to invest in Prezi. Can you give us a little insight as to what happened during this meeting, and how you felt?

 

The TED folks did not think I was going to pitch an investment. They thought they’d only get a demo of Prezi — in fact nobody else at Prezi knew about this, either. I usually get my most outrages ideas on planes and I was on my way to New York to meet Chris (Anderson, TED Curator) when I decided to pitch the investment idea. Our missions are so similar: we’re all about helping people to share ideas, and they are all about ideas worth spreading. I gave a demo, talked about our common vision and Prezi’s space in the future of presentations. I was extremely focused because I really wanted to make the deal happen, but Chris was very calm and super smart as usual. I walked away feeling great about our short meeting.

 

As the CEO of a company that prides itself on its customer service and the attention given to people using Prezi, how has your interaction with users been? Any examples of feedback, either positive or negative, that had a big impact on the company?

 

At Prezi, everyone interacts with users and we’re very lucky to have a passionate fan base. In fact, one of the biggest rewards in our work has been letters from teachers and business folks who describe how Prezi has changed the way they work. Some people tell us they got their job thanks to Prezi, others tell us how they aced their schoolwork. I think this is the most inspiring part of working with Prezi.

 

Finally, what is the main difference between doing business in the U.S. versus Europe, according to you?

 

I don’t think this is the case for the entire U.S., but the Bay Area certainly has a high concentration of people who think “big,” even though they might be just starting out. I’ve yet to find such an environment anywhere else, although I do think that the understanding for this attitude is spreading thanks to the many stories being written about successful start-ups.

 

It’s harder to generalize on business attitudes in Europe since the countries differ a lot but I do think that European investors have traditionally been less willing to take risks compared to their U.S. counterparts. The European businesses I am familiar with have often been more team-oriented compared to the ones I know in the U.S.

 

If your schedule weren’t busy enough, you are also working on a Japanese cookbook. Any recipe you’d like to exclusively share with our readers?


Sure, here is a simple yet fun recipe that includes enough physical activity to burn some calories as you cook (see sidebar for recipe of Homemade Udon).


Teach us a word in Hungarian.

 

Kocsi (coach-y): car, coach. Kocsi is derived from the Hungarian city Kocs where a popular form of horse carriages were manufactured in the 15th century.

 

How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?

 

Make your next idea so inspiring that it survives the immediate presentation occasion. Here is a challenge: can you make your presentation interesting enough to get a person who did not attend ask about it?

 

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Peter Halacsy, Founder & Head of Product


I like to define entrepreneurs as individuals who notice something missing in society and do something about it. What was that “something” and how did it lead to the creation of Prezi?


I’d say something was actually missing in my life. I was a teacher, a public speaker, and a computer scientist talking about business/technology/society. I had tried several presentation technologies, but nothing was good enough. When I met Adam and first saw his presentation technique, I immediately got the concept. I think the majority of our users feel the same instinctive feeling when they can see a prezi. Anyway, I tried to use it… but it sucked. It was terrible experience because Adam used a software created for design professionals. So the big invention was: hey, prezi, the zooming presentation is cool… but let even visually handicapped people (like me) use it.

Since Prezi is free of charge for people using the regular version and the content is made available/public, do you have examples of presentations that you find particularly incredible?

 

For example this is incredible:

 

 

 

 

 

At what moment did you realize that your concept and project was taking off? How did people initially respond to Prezi?


Well. And from the beginning. Our first users were real users who created great presentations. People really wanted to use Prezi. I remember, we were working on a presentation for 3,000 people but there was no “undo” in the software. But because people loved Prezi they weren’t too upset. On the other hand I feel we haven’t really reached the tipping point. Maybe because I’m from Hungary (Eastern Europe), I don’t really feel the success. I think we have more to do because I think more people need Prezi.

 

What are your hopes for the future of Prezi? Do you see it completely overtaking the slide system?

 

Yes. If not Prezi then the next [platform]. I really would like to help people to be able to create better presentations. The next generation of presentation will be even more dynamic, like animations/movies. Creating a really nice movie should be as easy as telling a story to your child. If you can make a story and tell it you should be able to draw it as well. On the other hand I think Prezi is not just about storytelling, but about structuring information. Why do you structure? Because you want to present it or you just want to understand. So I think the zooming canvas could be a general place holder for collaboration.

 

Teach us a word in Hungarian.

 

Prezi: this is the short/nick name of “presentation” in Hungarian.

 

How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?

 

They should try Prezi.

 

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Adam Somlai-Fischer, Founder & Head of Design

How did you initially meet Peter (Halacsy), and how did you decide to start working together?

 

Around 2005, he also saw me using an archaic version of Prezi, and saw how powerful it was, what effect it had on the audience. As an active lecturer himself, he wanted to use it but found my homemade version very difficult to author. So we decided to create an easy-to-use editor. Fast forward to today, eight years later, and we are still doing the same!

 

As the co-founder and head of design at Prezi, how did you initially conceptualize the aesthetic of the presentations and how did it evolve from the launch until now?


The first Prezi-like presentation I’ve created was made in 2001 (with a friend, Peter Sandor Nagy) in Barcelona for an architecture practice. We used a mix of words and plans of Barcelona to create a zoomable map of their projects.

 

 

 

The next interesting example was created in 2003 for the Swedish Research Council, and was used to explain contemporary biology to the public. This became very fractal like.

 

 

 

 

Then in 2006, we did a large exhibition for the Venice Biennale, and I created this zoomable prezi of concepts which stitched the research of 20 artists into one narrative.

 

 

 

I gave a talk at the Royal College of Art in London in 2008 called, “Peer Property’s Tangible Beauty.” It looked very sketch-like.

 


Finally, the latest one in 2011 was a keynote at a huge internet conference in Vilnius (for 2,000 people in the audience) about creativity, and Prezi.

 

 

 

You have been known to ideologically strive for technological freedom. Would you like to elaborate on that concept? How do you feel like Prezi contributes to that goal?

 

The one common element among individuals like myself trying to shake things up in the technology world is that we need the possibility to open technology and change it to invent new uses and create new experiences. If technology became too distant and closed, looked upon only as ready-made products, how could people like me change it? Freedom is also about freedom of access, about simplicity, so anyone can start creating a prezi. I think we bring the power of visual communication to the public, something that was a domain of professionals only in the past. And on the same analogy, this enables visual stories to exist, which would have never existed without Prezi. Children create prezis about things no visual communicator would ever invent.

 

Teach us a word in Hungarian.

 

Gondolat (pronounce as gone-doh-lut) – means “thought,” and sounds nice…

 

How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?

 

Use Prezi to think about to world around you, and to develop your ideas, as if it was a whiteboard. And then present them!

 

 

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