Vimsy Closure - Why we’re closing Vimsy

A behind-the-scenes look at why we've made the decision to close Vimsy and the thought process that went into it

rowan@vimsy.co profile

Written by Rowan

Updated 2019-11-27

Vimsy Closure - Why we’re closing Vimsy

As I’ve written about before, our primary business is running a corporate video production company. In 2015 we saw an opportunity within our customer base for a product like Vimsy – specifically, we had an existing customer who needed it and was prepared to pay for it – and we believed that there was a bigger market for Vimsy.

Since then, we’ve seen over 1300 people sign up to Vimsy and give it a try (with new people signing up every day), we’ve been featured on websites like ProductHunt and Indie Hackers, and one of our customers even won a prestigious industry award for their use of Vimsy.

On top of that, we not only secured the initial customer that we built Vimsy for, but we’ve been able to provide our service to a good handful of paying customers, which has undoubtedly proven that there’s a need for a product like Vimsy in the market.

By all measures it’s been a tremendous success for us, considering it’s something that just popped out of our heads one day. But it’s not working for us, and hasn’t been for some time.

It’s not working commercially

From a commercial perspective, Vimsy has done well (in our opinion). The only trouble is that all of the income generated by Vimsy has gone towards paying outsourced developers, for servers, and for the other third party services that we rely on to make Vimsy happen.

All of our sales, marketing, product support, project management and business administration has been carried out at a loss. In theory this doesn’t “cost” us anything because it’s effectively paid for by our production company, but there is a real cost in time spent on Vimsy – and Vimsy has been taking up a disproportional amount of time for the value it provides.

We’ve made several efforts in recent memory to try generating more income from Vimsy, such as adding ads to free channels and introducing our “Enterprise” tier, but these haven’t provided as much as we would have liked. It needs a whole commercial reevaluation, but we don’t have the time or money for that, mostly because…

We need to get back in our lane

There's a lot of chatter in the business world about finding complimentary verticals to generate additional sources of income from. (Every business needs a "Plan B" in case their primary source of revenue changes, they say.)

Although Vimsy is a platform for managing video content, which you’d probably think would be a good link, unfortunately it turns out that running a web platform is not complimentary to running a video production company at all. Even if the web platform is for video content, the main skills needed to run each business don't overlap.

This makes Vimsy very hard to run.

When I get an email in the early hours from a video production client who needs some work completed urgently, I know that I have the ability to solve their problem and can get back to them promptly with a solution. It’s a great experience for the customer and for me. Everybody is happy.

When I get an email from somebody who’s encountered a bug with Vimsy, I have to email a web developer who can fix the issue, wait for them to pick up the email, negotiate the cost of the work needed, then wait for them to complete the work before testing the fix and deploying it. This has (for the most part) been a frustrating experience for everybody involved, including the customer who ultimately suffers as a result.

It has become increasingly more clear that the right business for us as individuals is our video production company, not Vimsy.

Our reliance on third party skills also makes Vimsy really expensive to run. Any changes we need have to be carried out by professionals who charge us for doing the work; sometimes a “small” bug or issue will cost us several thousand of pounds to fix.

As someone who makes a living from selling their own skills, I have no issue with the nature of this arrangement and I understand (possibly better than most) that quality comes at a price. But, as a small business, it makes operating Vimsy unsustainable.

As it stands, Vimsy would be a great side business for a web developer who’d like a project to hone their skills on, try new things with, and earn a bit of extra revenue on the side from – and there’s certainly room for it to grow into something bigger under the right circumstances. It’s just not a good fit for a video production company.

The technology landscape is changing at an alarming pace

Since launching Vimsy the market has changed dramatically, as has the world of technology.

From a competition perspective, companies such as Wistia and Vimeo, who are far bigger and far more established at building technology products than us, have entered the “Channels” space with their own offerings.

From a broader technology industry perspective, the last few years have seen the introduction of various EU legislations related to online privacy (GDPR), online payments (Secure Customer Authentication, which was due in September of this year but has been delayed until 2021), and online content piracy (Article 13, which will soon shift the responsibility of copyright enforcement to online platforms and not the copyright holder).

In between writing the first draft of this post and now, I’ve been made aware that on the 1st January 2020, California will be introducing their own GDPR equivalent, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Vimsy will not be ready for this.

I believe that the examples I’ve given above are the beginning of some serious technology regulation and I foresee even more global authorities actively regulating this space. We also have to contend with the fact that all of this could be thrown into the air at a local level by Brexit, whenever (and if ever) that happens.

Companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are struggling to keep up with these changes and between them they employ a small country’s worth of people. How on Earth can Vimsy stay on top of it all too?

Unlike companies operating a simple website for sales or marketing purposes, as a platform we need to keep up with these legislations in order to protect our customers and ultimately minimise our own risk. The last thing we want is a legal battle with a government we’ve not heard of for breaking a law that we didn’t know existed, simply because our service was available (intentionally or not) in that jurisdiction.

The amount of legal and development work required to keep up with these external market and regulatory pressures isn’t something that we can afford without taking serious investment for our business, which we do not want, or without receiving a miraculous and sudden influx of customers, which would come with its own challenges even if such a thing was possible.

Our video production company is doing great

With all of the reasons listed above that go against Vimsy from the perspective of keeping it going, the balance is that our video production company is doing better than ever. We have a great name and reputation locally, we’re working with great companies and brands, and for the first time in seven years we’ve had to start turning work down so that we can focus on the work and clients we already have.

I still believe that Vimsy occupies a unique space in the online video world, and I absolutely adore the product, but while my heart says “fight”, all sensible signs point to letting go and allowing someone else to take on this challenge, and focussing my efforts back on doing what I do best, which is making great videos for great customers.

Vimsy has by all measures been a success; That's not a commiseration. Vimsy has done exactly what we wanted and more. It's just time to realise that it's not for us, and that we can't keep pouring time and money into a product that isn't a good fit for our business anymore. We hope you understand and, again, I thank you so much for being part of this.

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