Their start-up will change my marketing, and many of my clients, exponentially. Normally video, and video editing takes a STACK of cash. But with Kapwing plug in your video, pick features like filters, music and text, and VOILA, you have a e-marketing campaign , engaging social, convincing pitch decks, a less boring presentation, or an amazing Christmas montage for Grandma (you're welcome).
And the co-founders are young, extraordinarily amusing and ready to take the punches of starting a company (not to mention very photogenic). They left their secure jobs at Google to escape the group mentality and control their own destiny. In an era where we thrive off labeling generations I wouldn't consider them as Millennials. Both act well beyond their years but know how to cut loose. Their self awareness but willingness to offer transparency are the heart of their business. And like most founders I meet they are hungry to absorb information and make mistakes. Meet Julia and Eric.
You both met at Google where you had secure product manager jobs. Did something happen at goggle that sparked you to leave? As an outsider Google sounds like this amazing place. Why leave that security?
E - Nothing happened, Google is an amazing place. I think you get great things like security, predictability and you get to be apart of this big product with lots of users. But the trade off is you don't control your own destiny and make large contributions to that product. Nor the scale that you want to make contributions. You don't make something from scratch.
J - Yes, you’re very replaceable.
E - Yeah, I think for me you don’t get to control your destiny as much. And at the time I wanted to try something new and control my own destiny.
In your own words what is Kapwing?
J - An online media editor for casual creators and creative professionals.
How do you see it helping people? More for entertainment or as a business tool?
J - Kapwing is for any original content creator and serves artistic, personal, and business use cases. It helps people make modern formats quickly, saving them time and enabling them to bring their vision to life.
You guys have moved into your first office! Congrats! What is your first order of business?
J - First order of business is getting everyone on-boarded. We had two people start this past week. New first lunches, etc.
E - Are you sure the first order of business wasn’t buying Coup? lol
Does it freak you out that you had to take so much time to onboard newbies yourself the first week of moving into an office while running the company?
E - Yeah, it’s a change because it's been just me and Julia for a really long time; over a year. So to go from two of us to four people that we have to consider and work with, is a big shift in the way we approach how things get done.
Have you guys set out a structure for how you’re going to hire people. The guidelines for company culture, or set a "this is what we stand for", and this is how I’m going to secure someone to fit that role and this is what I’ll listen for.
J - Yeah I think we have company values we think about for hiring. One of them is a tendency toward action. Someone who is a doer other than a thinker. Someone willing to do something even if it might be the wrong thing. Also people that are creative and interested in wacky, trendy, current ideas. Growth mindset.
Eric I want to know what it’s like for you on a personal level. Julia and I had a chance to talk one on one for almost 2 hours about Bay area culture. Do you guys ever get questioned about being "together"?
E - For me, Julia and I worked together at Google and the same team so we've had a shared working history. Which was nice to build off of. Our personal relationship is positive and we hang out a lot, share the same interests. We have a shared respect for one another and care a lot about what we’re doing.
J - We did have our very first investor asked us whether or not we were dating.
S - What?!
J - Yeah, I mean I don’t think they would ask two guys about that but I guess it’s so unusual to see a female founder as a separate entity since they see a lot of prominent female founders being apart of couple. And that's the only that one asked. Other investors ask what the breakdown of the roles are. They treated us similar.
If you could give yourself advice would you give yourselves two years ago? Because that's when you were starting to do this.
E - I would tell myself to buy bitcoins. (all of us laughing)
J - I have learned a lot in the past year from Eric and running Kapwing. To be less critical of new ideas and to just try things. I think that a lot of people see something that might be wrong and so they never try it. Sometimes you do something weird and it turns out to be a contribution to the world. Also I'd put more things into the world. One of the things I love about working with Kapwing is writing the blog. I get to share our experiences. It's cathartic. Plus it’s a resource for those working through similar things.
E - One thing that somebody told us, he was another founder of a company but still a start up. You ‘ll get there as long as you don’t give up. Perseverance. Giving up is the only thing that will kill your start up. But if you don’t give up you’ll get somewhere. We could do it as long as we stick with it.
What is your biggest fear at this stage of your company
J - I think for me .... I wanna make Kapwing a fun and fulfilling place to to work. I want it to be a place where every employee feels safe.
E - I'm not very afraid of things. But maybe our own ability to execute. Can we achieve what we want to achieve in a reasonable time line. Not really a fear but a challenge. Are we doing something today to achieve our goals.
What's next? What are Kapwing users looking forward too next year?
J - Our goal is to launch a unified video editor. By end of 2018.
Do you have any books you could recommend?
J - "Lean In" for both genders. Super important book about being ambitious and how to treat people respectful in the work place.
E - "Pachinko" by Min Jin Lee and it documents this Korean women’s journey during world war two. Touching and sad. Well written.
S - Sounds like a bottle of wine on the couch for the weekend read Eric. (laughing) I'm into it.
Thank you both for taking SO MUCH time to do this article. I know you're super busy hustling a brand new start up. I can't wait to see where you are this time next year. AND I'm already using you.
Summer Wilson - Creative Director and Photographer of Battle Cry
Photo by John Thatcher