Vidu: Ex-Intercom team comes bearing GIFs for sales reps

11 Oct 2021

Will Holden and Gavin Joyce. Image: Vidu

Two former Intercom staffers have left the Irish-founded start-up to make something of their own.

Earlier this year, Gavin Joyce and Will Holden left their jobs at Intercom to dedicate their focus to a venture of their very own. While Vidu is still just getting off the ground, the start-up counts its founders’ previous employer among its early adopters, along with Fivetran, Qualtrics and Greenhouse.

Vidu deals in the beloved online media format: the GIF. Its tools help users to set up GIF templates that can be customised for different forms of messaging quickly and easily as needed. Sort of a like a meme generator, but tailored for sales teams to make their email pitches more eye-catching.

With Vidu, sales reps can create templated loops of themselves conveying different expressions and emotions holding up a motion-track card or phone. Dynamic, custom content can then be mapped to this space to create a personalised, specific GIF that will capture a potential customer’s attention.

Between them, Vidu’s founders served close to 13 years at Intercom, which provides the software behind many of the sales and support chat interfaces popping up on websites around the world.

Joyce was a senior engineer at Intercom, following a similar role at Zendesk. Holden’s background is in sales, having spent some time in sales at Google before graduating through roles at Intercom up to becoming its head of outbound sales development for EMEA.

“Running an outbound sales team, I had to deal with multiple tools, trying to personalise content frequently across a number of reps,” said Holden. “Gavin was running an engineering team and knew there was a better way to solve this problem.”

And with that kernel of an idea, Vidu began. Holden and Joyce started working on the project four years ago and some tools they created as a side project are still used in Intercom today.

“However, over time it became clear that the problem was experienced by more than just Intercom and the SaaS industry, so we started Vidu to serve all sellers,” said Holden.

‘We plan to make several forms of content easier for reps to create and share, and easier still for prospects to consume’

Vidu can also liven up the inbox of those receiving sales pitches in its process. “Most people receive unthoughtful, robotic, generic and boring emails, every single day from sellers,” said Holden.

“There are a lot of tools out there to try and make it easier for sellers to personalise their emails and humanise their outreach. Loom, Vidyard, Drift Video all allow sellers to create videos for email.” Unlike these tools, however, Vidu doesn’t require a salesperson able to command attention as a video personality.

“Pitching in video is hard,” said Holden. “It takes time, from both seller and prospect, you have to be good on camera, and not even the best of sellers are able to use it for all of their prospects.”

By focusing on simple, soundless, looping GIFs, Vidu hopes to appeal to a broader sweep of sellers seeking to create engaging, personalised content that can be neatly embedded into emails with no action required to engage. “No clicks or redirects for the prospect, just clear and personal messaging,” Holden explained.

In his view, ‘wall of text’ email pitches are too similar to spam, and video is not only hard to scale but introduces more friction than is necessary. “Vidu lets every seller send personal and authentic content, fast,” he surmised. “It humanises the seller and helps start conversations with prospects.”

The first product from Vidu targets the top of the funnel, but the future could see the Dublin company supporting content creation throughout the sales process. “We plan to make several forms of content easier for reps to create and share, and easier still for prospects to consume,” said Holden.

The ultimate goal is to increase sales productivity and put an end to “bad outreach”.

“Salespeople are forced to make concessions on quality when sending outreach because of targets, quotas and activity-based metrics,” said Holden. “They’re all moving faster than technology can keep up.”

He wants to see sellers equipped with the ability to deliver high-quality messaging to all prospects, not just VIP accounts.

“Some of our customers are already creating double the number of opportunities since using Vidu,” claimed Holden. “They’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars in forecasted headcount costs, overnight.”

These results are from a closed early-access product launched since Vidu started its journey on the NDRC accelerator at Dogpatch Labs. The team were building up as much traction as possible in the run-up to the programme’s recent midpoint demo day.

‘The transparency shared by the Intercom founders is truly a gift to everyone that works there’

“We’re now fully focused on building the infrastructure to help us move into our next stage of growth,” said Holden. “We’ve been fortunate to have some amazing customers join us in the first few weeks, and we’ve learnt a ton about how people use the product and find value quickly. There’s a lot more work to be done, but we now see a clear path to making Vidu widely available!”

Thankful not to have had to give away a large chunk of equity to accelerate with NDRC at Dogpatch, Holden describes the company currently as “lean and moving fast”. The next step is to start conversations with “the right types of funding partners”.

Holden also complimented the calibre of the mentors on the NDRC programme, which included Intercom founders Eoghan McCabe and Des Traynor. Indeed, he remarked how the culture at Intercom helped to cultivate future entrepreneurs.

“The transparency shared by the founders and all teams is truly a gift to everyone that works there,” he said. “Having both been at Intercom and seen first-hand the challenges and opportunities that exist for a young company, it’s given us an unbelievable confidence when coming out into the ecosystem and starting our own venture.”

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.