Photo - Visualink
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Visualink

We help scholars communicate and organize knowledge visually

Germany
Market: Information and media
Stage of the project: Prototype or product is ready

Date of last change: 28.03.2021
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Idea

We are developing a systematic graphic language to let scholars take visual notes easily.
For each abstract concept, we design a graphic element to represent it.
It’s not your standard icons and shapes, you can combine the elements to visualize complex ideas. It’s like Miro, but for knowledge.
Scholars will be able to read the text in PDF format in Visualink, highlight paragraphs, and link the paragraph to visual notes next to the pages. The academic workflow will be 100% preserved with the added advantage of unlimited space for visual notes.

Current Status

The team started out with Clara and Wen-Min in June 2020 and Gemma and Ali joined a few weeks later. We started interviewing our first target group, academics, and building the first mock-up. During this time, we also worked with startup consultants at the HU startup incubator to apply for Berliner Startup Stipendium.
In November 2020, we put together the very first prototype and acquired our first seven clients, four of them are teachers and they have introduced Visualink to their students. In December 2020, we started our first public relations campaign by sharing visualizations created with Visualink on social media. In February 2021, our website is regularly visited by 100 visitors per week.
Currently, we are finishing the user account system, which will improve our users’ experience and allow us to more accurately track the usage of the app. After finishing the user account system, we will launch our first marketing campaign with visualization contests, conferences, and webinars, while at the same time building the PDF integration on the app.

Market

Our perfect customers are scholars and researchers in the early phases of their academic career – master and Ph.D. students, PostDocs, and Junior Professors.
Currently, there are 8 million researchers and 12 million academic staff in the world. 40% are working in humanities, social sciences, and psychology disciplines and can be benefitted from our service.
From the interviews with our customers, we learned that $10 per month would be appropriate pricing. Our serviceable addressable market size is, therefore, $ 9.6 billion (calculated with 10 years of subscription).

Problem or Opportunity

We have identified 2 value propositions Visualink can offer.
1. For research purposes, Visualink can help researchers put their thoughts in graphic form and so remember and communicate the knowledge better.
2. For learning purposes, ready-made knowledge visualization can help learners understand and memorize the knowledge faster.

Solution (product or service)

Visualink is a web-based collaborative multimedia graphic board that lets scholars visualize complex ideas with a systematic graphic language and crosslink the graphics with other data or text.

In the visual library, users can browse or search for visual elements that suit their ideas. Various graphic elements can be combined on the map (canvas) to present the nuances and overall structures of theories and arguments. If a user cannot find suitable elements, they can file a request and we will create the missing elements within a reasonable period of time.

On the Visualink graphic board, users can upload and view PDF files the way they are accustomed to – browse and highlight paragraphs – and link paragraphs to graphics on the board. This crosslinking feature will allow users to organize text-based information around graphics and strengthen the structure of their reading notes.

The visualization created in Visualink can be stored and re-edited, or exported in commonly used formats such as PDF. The first prototype located at ​https://visualink.online/ was published on the 16th of November 2020

The collection of graphic elements is the core innovation of Visualink. On the one hand, we collect the existing and commonly used graphic elements and add keywords to make them easy to search. On the other hand, we create new graphic elements by visualizing actual academic publications. As the library grows, we will be designing more and more new graphic elements, until users from various fields can always find suitable graphic elements for the topics they want to visualize.

Competitors

Most of our interviewees were using PowerPoint, GoogleSlides, and sometimes Miro to do their visualization. At least 11 scholars are already using our prototype (not yet an MVP) and have proactively signed up to become "Visualink friends" to support us with feedback on product development.
In the use case of creating knowledge visualization, users can only create graphics on PowerPoint and GoogleSlide, but in no way organizing them. The switching cost is therefore very low. Switching users only need to get used to the new interface, which would only take them 10 to 30 minutes.

Advantages or differentiators

Visualink has a systematic visual language to let scholars visualize their ideas in a drag-and-drop graphic editor.
For each abstract concept, we design a graphic element to represent it.
It’s not your standard icons and shapes, you can combine the elements to visualize complex ideas. It’s like Miro, but for knowledge.
A visual language with this level of complexity is not yet provided on the market.

Finance

The cost structure for July 2021 – Jun 2022
Technical services
Server: €24000
Zoom license: €140
Notion team: €1200
Salary
Co-founder 1: €36000
Co-founder 2: €36000
Co-founder 3: €36000
Developer: €36000
Marketer: €36000
Graphic designer: €36000
Legal & accounting
Accounting and tax: €1113
Terms of Use: €2500
Privacy policy: €2000
_____________________________
Sum €246953

Business model

Visualink is valuable as a tool where users process and store information. We will implement a freemium revenue model with the standard upgrade pricing of $10 per month.
Visualink is also valuable for its collection of visualized content. We can charge $1 for accessing one piece of knowledge visualization on an academic article. This price is at the same time acceptable for students and also profitable for the business. To maximize this value, we will also leverage user-generated content. To incentivize users to share content, we could learn from the Netherland-based company, StuDocu. By sharing a document of study notes, a user of StuDocu can earn 14 days of premium access. This way, users are encouraged to either upgrade to premium or contribute to the content collection.

Money will be spent on

The cost structure for July 2021 – Jun 2022
Technical services
Server: €24000
Zoom license: €140
Notion team: €1200
Salary
Co-founder 1: €36000
Co-founder 2: €36000
Co-founder 3: €36000
Developer: €36000
Marketer: €36000
Graphic designer: €36000
Legal & accounting
Accounting and tax: €1113
Terms of Use: €2500
Privacy policy: €2000
_____________________________
Sum €246953

Offer for investor

We will be able to assess the growth trajectory of Visualink after we launch the first marketing campaign in April. We would probably aim for a valuation of 3 times the projected annual revenue in 2023.

Team or Management

Risks

The following 3 circumstances could cause the business to fail:
1. Not able to realize product vision: There is an inherent risk of whether a visual language can have sufficient clarity that a "language" requires. It is also uncertain whether we are able to design graphic elements for abstract ideas in a sufficiently systematic way.
2. Not able to find and create the right interface that supports academic workflow in time and run out of capital.
3. Other companies that already have a great infrastructure of a graphic editor, such as Miro, catch up with designing graphic elements for abstract ideas and out-compete us.

Incubation/Acceleration programs accomplishment

Humboldt University Startup Incubator
Founder Institute Berlin Spring Program 2021 (ongoing until June 2021)

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Photo 1 - We help scholars communicate and organize knowledge visually

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