September 15, 2014 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
Digital Canvas to Create, Combine and Share Multimedia
buncee’s online and mobile canvas makes it easy for even the most “non-technical” individuals, to create and share beautiful greetings, personal scrapbooks, multimedia school projects, engaging business stories and more in a fun, quick and social way!
Marie Arturi is founder and CEO of Buncee LLC. A serial entrepreneur, she sold her division of her last software company and has also co-founded a medical research foundation for the research of a rare blood disorder, Diamond Blackfan Anemia (DBA). Working together with her family and esteemed colleagues from the international medical community, the foundation has raised over $40 million in funding for the cause. With buncee's success, Marie hopes to continue funding research for a cure for DBA. Marie resides in Long Island with her family and leverages the beautiful ocean landscape in her buncee creations.
Interview conducted by:
CEOCFO: Ms. Arturi, what is Buncee?
Ms. Arturi: Buncee is a digital canvas where you can add any form of multimedia, and we mean any form, such as video, audio, photos, stickers, animated stickers and pdfs. You can combine as much or as little as you’d like, it can be one slide like a card or multiple slides like a presentation. You can keep it private or share it publicly across any social platform with just a click.
CEOCFO: How does it differ from what is currently available?
Ms. Arturi: It is very easy to use; we have a screen that we call “One and Done!” It is just a simple creation screen where you can grab one of our backgrounds or use your own photo. It is sort of like a very creative PowerPoint. There are a couple of big differences though. In PowerPoint, it would be unlikely that you would design something as simple as a birthday card or thank you note and have it be very special, personalized, and easy to share. You can also create a 10-15 slide presentation on Buncee, and it is also different because we pull all of the media assets right into Buncee. If you want to grab a YouTube video to insert, maybe your friend’s favorite song, you would do that right within the Buncee platform. You do not have to go out to the web.
CEOCFO: What was the challenge in putting this together? Why has it not been tried before?
Ms. Arturi: What we are doing is pulling a bunch of assets that are available on the web together in one place. We were blessed to have been chosen as one of seven picks from South by Southwest this year, and they described us as PowerPoint meets Pinterest meets eCards. It is really an unusual tool in that you can create any form of messaging. I noticed this morning somebody used our mobile app to send a get well card, so that probably took them two seconds and you can do that on the bus or in a car, of course not when you are driving! It is just a different way of communicating, and the whole Buncee mission is to communicate creatively.
CEOCFO: Is it that no one has thought of the concept?
Ms. Arturi: That is possible. I am not sure how it was missed. We have a medical research foundation where we support the research of a very rare disease, Diamond Blackfan Anemia (DBA), and as I was leaving one of our conferences and had this mental image of a Buncee. A blanket email would not have been enough to thank all of our marvelous colleagues, and I am terrible with handwritten notes, so I was picturing something that was very personalized and much more than a typical eCard. What I pictured did not exist, but with Buncee, now it does.
CEOCFO: What is the derivation of the name Buncee?
Ms. Arturi: It was the name of a place in Patterson, New Jersey where my husband grew up, and although it does not exist anymore, the name somehow stuck in his head as a fun word. The whole family was together and we were trying to come up with a fun name, and so many of the fun domain names are already taken today. My stepson said bungee, and it sparked my thinking and I said let’s see if buncee is available, and sure enough it was.
CEOCFO: How are you gaining attention?
Ms. Arturi: Through all channels of media, advertising and social media, and personal referrals from excited customers have all been valuable in gaining traction. We demo at trade shows and have been presenting at EdTech conferences, South by Southwest and Tech Days.
CEOCFO: Who is using Buncee today?
Ms. Arturi: Educators are our biggest fans at the moment - which thrills us. Teachers and students in particular, students really seem to love it. We have heard a couple terrific anecdotes where one student was assigned two Buncees, and the student created six. We have animated stickers on Buncee that we create, so we have built them a sandbox of tools that they really enjoy. Educators are really enjoying it, but we still have many people who still sign up and use it for its original intended use of personalized birthday cards and notes. We have two different domains at Buncee: buncee.com and edu.buncee.com. The buncee.com side is perfect for personal or business use, and the edu side is for educators and students.
CEOCFO: Do you see those as the biggest group going forward?
Ms. Arturi: Yes, we absolutely do. We love the teachers that we are working with and we look forward to growing that. We did just close a big district out in Long Island, and we are in about 50 schools on Long Island.
CEOCFO: Would you be licensing Buncee?
Ms. Arturi: Yes, it is a freemium model, so two slides right now are free, and then you pay for premium features. We also developed a dashboard for teachers, so it is a classroom management system where the teacher can create an assignment, the student can complete the assignment, and it goes right back to the teacher for grading with all forms of privacy settings for the students. All of their work is private.
CEOCFO: How have you been able to talk to teachers to get into the schools or school systems?
Ms. Arturi: It is a little bit of everything. What has been fun is the people who are using it then will refer you to somebody else. It is an interesting space that we find ourselves in, educators on Twitter in particular, it is a really collaborative world there. Yesterday, a woman who has 35,000 followers tweeted about Buncee. She said check out all the fun and cool ways Buncee can be used in communication!
CEOCFO: What has changed from the initial concept, if anything, as it has been out and been in use?
Ms. Arturi: There are always many surprises whenever you build something. The edu piece is a bit of a pivot for us, we worked with teachers, principals and a district person to build out a unique portal for the educational community - edu.buncee.com. We were actually encouraged to pivot by them, the thinking was that something like buncee, which is a little bit like a PowerPoint tool, could be used in schools or even as a presentation in business. We worked with educators and have hired an educator on our team. We are creating Common Core lessons as examples of how teachers can create their own engaging lessons on buncee. The Common Core requirement has been adopted in 45 states, and the government is encouraging educational standards throughout the country. One teacher saw Buncee and she said she felt that we had to go into education because they are required to have students as young as fourth grade create a multimedia presentation and then present it. She said she thought it was the perfect tool for that effort. The ease of creation is perfect for anyone but young students pick up buncee very quickly. I guess that was a little bit of a happy surprise.
CEOCFO: What pieces are not being used as much as you would expect?
Ms. Arturi: I immediately think of that the opposite way, which ones are used the most are the backgrounds and the animations. Perhaps our RSVP functionality is not used as much as I’d expect. You can create a buncee for any reason and then repurpose it as an invitation with RSVP functionality, including Google maps and event reminders. It can be anything from a birthday greeting/invitation or a buncee created at a school that is particularly fun, and within a few minutes that same buncee can be turned into a great looking invitation. An additional feature is that you can repurpose a Buncee in any way. For example, if I made a public buncee about your publication or your company, you could share that same buncee across all social with just a click. If you are having a little cocktail party for your colleagues or customers and you really liked the buncee you made, you can take that exact same buncee and turn it into an invitation with yes/no functionality, Google maps, etc.
CEOCFO: Are you funded for the steps you would like to take next?
Ms. Arturi: We have been self-funded. My husband and I have funded this to date, but we will be looking for funding partners going forward.
CEOCFO: You are available on mobile as well?
Ms. Arturi: Yes, we have buncee bits, which is a universal iPhone and iPad app, and we are presently working on an additional iPad app that will have multi-slide functionality. Buncee bits allows for quick little messages or mini cards that can be shared across all social media sites, emailed or texted to a friend or loved one. You can upload your own photo and write on it or we provide you with backgrounds, frames and you can color on a buncee bit as well. We recently added stickers as in app purchases too.
CEOCFO: What will be the next steps?
Ms. Arturi: We built it, and now it is show time. The big plan over the next year is certainly to continue getting the word out about Buncee by going to events, marketing and going to schools. We do professional development for teachers as well. When they purchase subscriptions from us, we work with them to train them and help them learn how to use the tool most effectively.
CEOCFO: What is the barrier to entry?
Ms. Arturi: It is not simple. I would say the biggest barrier to entry is the noise out there. There are so many marvelous tools, but they are all a little bit different- so when we go to shows, it is a little bit amazing. People will really come up and wait at our booth for a demo, so we do see firsthand the interest in a tool like ours. From the time they leave the event until they get home, they have probably been on Twitter, Facebook and they are making dinner. The challenge is finding a way of getting buncee to stick in their head and get them to say, “Oh wait, I can do that on Buncee!” If you suddenly remember it’s your friend’s birthday, or your friend is not feeling well, you can very quickly send a thoughtful message using Buncee.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about giving back and how you are going to use some of the proceeds for the foundation?
Ms. Arturi: As I mentioned earlier, the need to communicate in a unique way with our DBA community was the impetus for creating Buncee. I have been honored to work with marvelous colleagues in Washington D.C. at the NIC and CDC and doctors all over the world, and together we were able to encourage well north of $40 million in research monies. We have made a lot of progress, but not enough. One day, we were up for another grant and it did not come through, so then I thought to myself I should try to earn money for DBA rather than continuing to try to raise money for it.
We just took the Buncee team to North Shore-LIJ, a big hospital system here that is one of the esteemed teams we work with; our goal was to have the Buncee team learn a little bit more about DBA and to have the Doctors meet our Buncee team. One of these days I hope to have made some money from this endeavor, and I can continue funding DBA.
CEOCFO: Are you open to acquisition or is it too early to think about it?
Ms. Arturi: It probably is early, but life comes along as it comes along. If something makes sense for the tool and the team, you always listen. By nature, I am the kind of person who listens to ideas, and then you figure out if they make sense.
CEOCFO: We reach the business and investment community, so put it all together. Why is now the time to look at Buncee?
Ms. Arturi: It is a terrific and fun tool. It is really novel. We actually had an industry analyst who we asked to rip us apart a bit, and he said right now there is nobody exactly like us. He told us to get out there and said we certainly did not need more features. We are different in that the whole point of Buncee is to communicate creatively, easily, and the platform provides tools that allow for any form of messaging. It doesn’t matter if it is a quick, thoughtful note, a creative school project or a robust presentation. We like to believe you can easily create just about anything on buncee.
“We are different in that the whole point of Buncee is to communicate creatively, easily, and the platform provides tools that allow for any form of messaging. It doesn’t matter if it is a quick, thoughtful note, a creative school project or a robust presentation. We like to believe you can easily create just about anything on buncee.” - Marie Arturi
SBU Calverton Business Incubator
4603 Middle Country Road
Calverton, NY 11933
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