Prezi has raised over $14 million in venture capital to grow its business. However, despite rocket-stick growth and a massive user-base that just passed 30 million, the company has not used a single dime.
Which doesn’t mean the company won’t, of course.
“The only reason we haven’t dipped into the investment is that the user growth has been so strong that it has exceeded all our expectations,” co-founder and president Peter Arvai told me this week. “But absolutely, as soon as we find investment opportunities, we will invest.”
The key is cognitive science, Arvai says. Prezi’s visual mapping presentation style works by combining two important elements about how we learn and remember information: we remember landmarks, and we combine landmarks with direction or action. That spatial relativity is something that, cognitive scientists say, enhances our ability to store and recall data.
And it was almost an accidental discovery.
“It’s something we didn’t know ourselves as we launched the company,” Arvai says. “I’m learning it now as I’m talking to more and more cognitive scientists.”
Prezi’s current 30 million users is a 50 percent increase in just six months, and 1.5 million new users are currently joining the company every month, Arvai says. The software is huge in education, with special pricing for schools and districts — my kids are using it all the time — but it’s also making a significant impact in business.
One franchise fitness company credits Prezi with a massive increase in closing sales:
“Our ‘Franchise Opportunity’ prezi has yielded a 30 percent increase in our closing ratio and all of our training modules are now served up in Prezi,” says Craig Pepin-Donat, CEO. “If you’re not using Prezi, it’s like you’re using a chisel and hammer to deliver your presentations.”
Prezi says the growth, which is largely at the expense of Microsoft’s presentation leader PowerPoint, is part of a larger trend, in which people are looking for tools to help them be creative, help them differentiate, and help them communicate more effectively.
“It’s a much more efficient way of communicating ideas than slides … textual and paginated information is just not as great,” Arvai says.
The company has recently added templates for inspiration, and there are millions of presentations at Prezi.com to search and use, thanks to the company’s interesting freemium model. Essentially, you pay for privacy: Creating a Prezi is free, as long as you share it. If you want to keep it private, you need to pay.
The software is now available in Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese, and new languages are “coming soon,” Arvai says.
“We want the technology to disappear and the ideas to come front and center.”