August 7th 2020

How Tobias Raub, Co-Founder of Clipchamp, Saved Himself Eight Hours a Week

podcast

With the cloud of COVID hanging permanently over our heads, we’re all glued to our devices as both a means to escape reality and a way to stay tethered and informed. Some of us are taking on passion projects while others are trying to add a little pizazz to our presentations and posts for work. Wherever you land on the spectrum, we’re sure you can appreciate the value of a well done video. It's Impossible to inform, capture attention and entertain - all three if you’re lucky!

This week, The Loc Show welcomes Tobias Raub, Co-Founder of Clipchamp, to discuss all things video and provide an interesting glimpse into what considerations should be kept in mind as smaller businesses grow into global brands. His company, Clipchamp, makes it easy for even a noob to create professional grade videos through their digital platform. You can upload your own personal videos, choose from their stock footage and layer stock audio to create memorable, quality content.

Join us and hear firsthand the unique vision Tobias has for his burgeoning business and all he has learned from being a scrappy entrepreneur in charge of many facets of Clipchamp’s strategies.

And one more thing… Clipchamp leverages Smartling to manage translation, which saves Tobi eight hours a week. Also worth noting: they use Contentful as their content management system. Tobi is based in Germany, and founder Alex Dreiling is in Australia. The friends always wanted to create a start-up since they met each other at a previous job with German software engineering company SAP. Cool backstory, right?

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In this episode you will learn

  • The many ways you can leverage Clipchamp for personal and professional use.
  • What Tobias is keeping in mind as Clipchamp builds out their app.
  • Investing in technology as a start up.
  • How to manage translating several types of content simultaneously.
  • How to determine if your tools of choice are no longer serving your mission.
  • What to do when processes begin to tip the scale into unstable territory.

What to listen for
[3:43] The “itch” Tobi discovered to create a start-up.
[4:49] The backstory and creation of Clipchamp.
[5:40] What clients can do with Clipchamp and goals of the platform.
[9:18] Tobi dives into when he thought about translation and localization.
[11:15] Testing international language and translation methods.
[13:46] Content development and user interfaces of the platform.
[15:36] Building the website and technology.
[18:01] Github and integrations with third party providers.
[19:57] Evaluating costs and benefits of making investments in multiple languages.
[23:42] Difficulty translating the platform and terminology.
[24:58] Knowing when a change is necessary.
[27:04] What Tobi would do differently if he could go back 5-7 years and the lessons he’s learned.
[31:57] Validation of content and specialists involved.
[34:09] Emphasis on teamwork, meetings and statistics.
[36:52] Conducting user interviews and product management.

Learn more about Tobi

Full Transcript that almost certainly has typos (forgive us!)
Announcer: You're listening to The Loc Show presented by Smartling.

Adrian Cohn: Hey everyone. Welcome back to The Loc Show. Today I've got a cofounder as my guest, Tobi Raub of Clipchamp. Clipchamp's mission is to help everyone to become a creator of awesome video content. That's pretty important considering how valuable this medium is for both professional and personal content because it gets the point across easier. And frankly, it's just more fun to consume. They're pretty fun to create too, especially if you're using Clipchamp. This episode is great because we're getting yet another unique perspective about how translation and localization is viewed. And this time it's from the top. Toby's message is simple, even small to midsize companies can benefit from implementing software. Clipchamp uses Contentful for their CMS and GitHub as their product code repository to scale content experiences. And they leverage Smartling to manage translation, which saves Tobi himself eight hours a week. Let's dive into the show. Welcome back to The Loc Show. Tobi it's so great to have you here today. Thanks for being on the show.

Tobi Raub: Thanks for having me. Hello.

Adrian Cohn: So Tobi, tell us a little bit about yourself. I'm excited to learn a little bit about Clipchamp and to learn about how you've thought about bringing Clipchamp to the market globally. We were actually just chatting about how your team is global and it's a distributed team. So maybe we'll get into that, but tell us about yourself. Where are you today and how did you get to be a co founder of this company Clipchamp?

Tobi Raub: Yeah, I myself I'm based in Germany, the rest of the team, including my co-founders stay in Australia. We started the company about seven years ago by now in Brisbane, the four co-founders. We all knew each other from a previous job at SAP, the large German software company.

Adrian Cohn: We've heard of them. Yeah.

Tobi Raub: Yeah. Yeah. And always had chats about wanting to give this startup thing a go ourselves. And then finally jumped into the deep end and started working on something else for a while as you do. Had a couple of pivots on the way before we landed on the video editor that we're working on, or that we're building at the moment. So for me, I started my career at SAP, even though I started in Germany, I moved to Brisbane, did a master's degree and started working at that company. So I've been in the software industry for quite some time, even though, I never planned it really like this, but as things happen, I ended up there, which then led me to meet my now co-founders in the previous company and we've been doing that ever since, basically.

Adrian Cohn: I have a huge amount of respect for entrepreneurs, and I consider myself an entrepreneur. You mentioned that you had it in your mind that you thought at one point you'd want to start your own business, and you had a bug or an itch to do that. Where did that come from?

Tobi Raub: Well, for me specifically, and for the other guys, we worked in the innovation or research department of the larger company where we got the chance to work on some pretty exciting topics. But then quite often we did see smaller startups coming up with a similar idea, but then they were able to do it without having to wait for approval or for asking a number of management layers to progress. And I guess we just caught the bug while working on these innovation topics that we wanted to give it a try ourselves at some point, of course, being aware of the risk and also having to leave the rather secure job and all the rest of it. But the appeals deal still seemed to be big enough to just give it a try and see how we were going.

Adrian Cohn: That's awesome. And how long ago was this you founded the company in what year?

Tobi Raub: In 2013 is when we started, did something else at the beginning where we tried to, or basically started working on a distributed supercomputer that was going to be using laptops or computing power off of people coming to a website, virality widget was going to be embedded, turned out to be a bit too complicated to build at the time. But one of the use cases was video, digital video processing, so that's what we then decided to settle on. Published a couple of products before the video editor, then the compressor, converter, and webcam recorder and a few other things, but then eventually ended up with the editing piece.

Adrian Cohn: So tell us then about what Clipchamp is today and what are your customers doing with the product?

Tobi Raub: Yeah. So I guess where we are right now, where we moved towards is the target is to make it easy for anyone, regardless of skill level, to be able to create videos that look good. That are easy to put together, but still have a professional touch to them. So the main piece of software is the video editor that I mentioned, but we also have things such as prepopulated templates, stock video, and audio, direct integrations that let people put these into their projects without having to produce all of that themselves. I'm working on a version that can be installed at the moment. So you don't have to be online the whole time that runs as a Chrome PWA app. And that's pretty much the main product that we're working on and expanding. At the beginning it was just four of us but now we're about 60. With the majority, as I might've mentioned based in Australia, and with a couple of other people in the US and also in Europe.

Adrian Cohn: Wow, well, this sounds like a product that's useful right now. We have so many different content types that are available to us as marketers, or as people who are just trying to tell a story, frankly, it doesn't matter what division of a business you're in. And it's easy to capture video content. We all have a smartphone that has an awesome camera, a camera that would have cost a lot of money, just five or 10 years ago, and people are capturing video left and right. And then, so it sounds like they can upload it into your platform and make it look professional without a whole lot of effort. Is that the gist of what you're offering us?

Tobi Raub: That's pretty much at the core of it. I would say and so you can bring your own footage, video images, audio tracks, and then can combine them with stock media if you want to. You don't have to start from scratch, but you can, you can use some of the templates and the different aspect ratios. You can start the projects in depending on the kind of video content you want to produce. Say, if it's for a social media ad, then it should be 9:16 or 1:1 ratio. If it's for a YouTube video, then you do the 16:9 and we offer these kinds of input and adjusting options. And as you were saying people have recording devices right at their fingertips these days. And the quality that you can shoot with those is pretty amazing. So there is a lot of content getting produced and a tool like ours, that fits the niche that we're going for, it should make it easy for people who have the footage to actually also produce something half decent looking that you can use online.

Adrian Cohn: Awesome. So you co founded this company in 2013, when, at what point in this journey, were you thinking about translation and localization?

Tobi Raub: That was actually quite early on already, having an international founders team with Australians and Germans, but based in Brisbane at the time. The main version is English that we would publish our application and also did at the time. But at the same time, we were aware quite early on that it would most likely make a lot of sense to also provide translations and translated versions. Simply to be able to address non-English markets. In many countries, people do speak English and many say search for solutions online in English, but not all do. And just being able to unlock that space, made it quite attractive right early on. We didn't really know what to expect, but we as you do in the startup world, you just try and see whether it sticks or not. And so one of the experiments at the beginning, was to provide translations. Publish them and see how they would perform in search engine optimization. And we had positive results quite quickly. So we decided to double down in that space.

Adrian Cohn: I'm really curious to hear a little bit more about that. Maybe this is a few years back and you may not remember all the details, we won't fault you for it. But what was the language that you tested, and what were the results of these tests? You've jumped to the conclusion that it proved to be valuable, but what specifically did you do? How long did you run the test for, did you have a goal in mind or was it just like, "All right, let's see how it goes. And, wow, this is awesome. So we're going to keep going on this app."

Tobi Raub: Yeah, I guess it was more the latter, by now with a larger team, we can run proper AB tests and experiments and do proper user surveys and all the rest of it, and then make a more informed decision that's data based. At the time in a small team where there's always too much to do, it was pretty much, "This seems like a good idea. There are the larger companies that have translations in place, let's just do it and see how we go." I think if I remember correctly, we actually went for nine languages and translating those right away. After we did a bit of research in terms of the most popular languages in terms of speakers, in terms of countries where they are being spoken and then found an agency, luckily, that was able to translate across that many different languages at the start. And then once we had decided on the nine had the version of the website, and some initial blog posts translated at the time and published that. I think more or less within a relatively short amount of time, saw some positive results. And that's why then we decided to keep going with it.

Adrian Cohn: Yeah. So who was at the beginning of this, who was running localization for your team? Was it just you and your co-founder's small team figuring it out, maybe at what point did you bring other people into the fold to help manage this?

Tobi Raub: It's been pretty much me at the start and also still now to an extent, even though we have few more specialists in the team now. But it's been one of my areas that I've been looking after for basically from whenever we started working in that space.

Adrian Cohn: Go ahead. No. Sorry.

Tobi Raub: No, no, no.

Adrian Cohn: So you have a handful of different content types, too. You have your marketing website, you also have a web application, that's the actual product. And you have a mobile app is that so?

Tobi Raub: Not yet, but in the works at the moment.

Adrian Cohn: Cool. What other kind of content do you have?

Tobi Raub: So it's on the marketing side, as you were saying, plus the blog posts are two pretty big pieces. The user interface of the app or the video editor after people log in, that is another area. And I'm not sure if there's anything else at the moment. No, I think that's, that's pretty much it, but I should mention that we used to have a different product that converter compressor, and web webcam recorder that I mentioned earlier, that's been historically the main one that we focused on for awhile. And when we did the initial translations, it was not just for the marketing side and the blog post, but it was also for the interface of that application at the time. Now at the moment, it's the marketing side, it's this older product, it's the blog posts. We do have translations in place for the editor. We are preparing the translation of that at the moment. And with the experience of the previous product in mind, we know it's going to have a positive impact on all sorts of user statistics. But we simply have been busy with a mountain of other things, so were tackling it now.

Adrian Cohn: What's your tech stack? How does your company invest in technology and how did that fit into the picture? Because translation is both a human problem and a technology problem. It's not just one or the other. So how did you build the product? How do you build your website and how do you think about translation as part of that process?

Tobi Raub: Yeah, there have been quite a few iterations over the years. We always had a bit of a secret sauce technology in terms of how we process videos, which is a bit of difference to how others do it. Where we run in the browser. But a lot of the processing is actually happening locally. So you don't have to wait for final uploads off of larger video files and that kind of thing. In terms of how translation fits into the picture at the beginning, or for the last couple of years, we use WordPress for the marketing side. We used Angular for the application. And the translation of the app was pretty much a homebrew set up. For WordPress there are plugins that people might've heard about already, that you can use in order to offer the site and blog posts in multiple languages. So we started using one of those after we did a bit of an evaluation there for available options. But then as we grew, and as we also changed our application language to React, which is what it's based on now, we also realized that we basically couldn't scale in the way we would like to while keeping WordPress on and the plugin for translations. So that's when we, and that would have been about late 2019, started looking for alternatives. A friend recommended Smartling had made good experiences with that tool plus Contentful, which is now basically our go to for the marketing side and blog posts. So that combination is what we decided on in order to be able to do translations in the growing company, the larger volumes of content we're producing and also in the growing team, where simply need no good tools that we can use to manage it all.

Adrian Cohn: And then your web app, the content and the experiences developed in some code repo, I assume.

Tobi Raub: Yeah, yeah. We are using GitHub. So that was actually another benefit of Smartling, that it offers integrations with all sorts of third party providers. And knowing that GitHub and content for both, we're not going to be a problem in terms of running translations. That's the set up that we went for.

Adrian Cohn: So the Contentful decision, it sounds like you made the choice to start using Contentful because you needed the ability to scale your content experiences on your marketing website.

Tobi Raub: We use Contentful as well for our CMS and we found it to be terrific. And we've actually seen that a lot of people starting to adopt this headless CMS technology, and they've of course had a lot of important product developments and announcements even recently raising another round of funding.

Adrian Cohn: As a co-founder, we don't interview a lot of co-founders on this show. So I'm really interested to hear about how you started to evaluate the investment in all of these different technologies and supporting local languages. It's like everyone needs a marketing website. You need to do that, but you don't need to support. You could have your product in just English, but you've chosen to translate your content into, I think it's 12 languages. It may be 13. How do you look at this at the end of the day? Because there are costs it's like you have to translate content. You have to have a TMS, how do you evaluate all of this?

Tobi Raub: Yes, you're right. There are costs, but there are noticeable advantages and benefits as well of making that kind of investment. As I was saying, we noticed quite early on that being able to offer the website as well as the app in multiple languages, simply allows more people to find you, to start using you and to feel comfortable to use you again, and again, and again. Simply because they find it in their own language that they're more familiar with than they might be with English. So when it came to choosing Contentful and also Smartling a bit in the more recent past, it was basically coming from a place of having gone through quite a few migrations from CMS to CMS. And from translation system to translation system. And where we always at some point hit a couple of limitations of the system that we were using a time, where I say it worked well for the content producers. It worked well for the marketing team, but then the developers were having a bad time all the time. And we're having to jump through all sorts of loops and hoops to get things working. And to not plug and break or needing to make updates all the time. And there was just too much manual effort in it all. So knowing that we're going to have a larger team at the time in the not too distant future. So it was in late 2019 and we knew that we also wanted to scale up the content production. In terms of say the video templates that I mentioned earlier in terms of blog posts, in terms of landing pages, that were going to be targeting more specific niches that we would like to rank for. So we knew that we couldn't stay with the CMS that we were using at the time, and with the translation process that we were using at the time. Because it would have simply taken too much time to get it all under control with those. The headless CMS that is Contentful is basically a dream come true for our developers because they could set it all up by themselves. They could make the architectural decisions in close collaboration with our marketing team and content producers, and also me as the translation guy. Similar with Smartling knowing that there was an established connection with Contentful was definitely a plus. And then your colleagues that gave us the initial demos and whatever we saw there ticked enough boxes as well, compared to what we had been using in the past. So I think there was pretty much that combination of getting the confidence that we were going to be able to scale the content, to add additional languages and also making the team's lives easier, that completely justified the investment in that space.

Adrian Cohn: I'm curious to hear more about your content also because the product sounds really cool. You keep using the word templates or libraries for sound and video, what's it like translating your app, your web app? Is it challenging? Are there a lot of funky phrases that have to get translated are there tight spaces?

Tobi Raub: No, the app is actually okay to translate. You of course want to make sure that the terminology is accurate in the non-English languages because it's about specific video editing terms that simply exist in English. Everybody knows what they mean and their established terms in the industry. So if you translate, you want to make sure that whatever the translation specialist choose make sense in the language. But I guess that's pretty much the only challenge. In terms of translating itself the infrastructure is in place. So then it's a matter of getting the terms in place.

Adrian Cohn: Yeah. So you had a process, you said before, that was a little bit cumbersome, not scalable. You knew you were going to be ramping up your production. Tell us a little bit more about that. At what point were you like, "This process that we've got with WordPress and how were translating content through a plugin just, it's not working." What were the indicators? How did you know that a change was necessary?

Tobi Raub: Yeah. What we used to use it worked well while we were a little bit of a smaller team. And had our blog production volumes and landing page creation volumes at a level of whereas say one or two people could take care of it quite easily. But as soon as we decided that we wanted to scale it up and increase the volumes, just thinking or extrapolating, all the manual steps in the process that we were doing at the time. Including, a lot of manual copy and pasting, including Word documents, including lots of emailing back and forth. And then plugin updates and all the rest of it. It was pretty obvious that we weren't going to be able to do that unless we either hired more people, and they took care of individual snippets of that process, or try and get your more efficient set up that could certainly be managed by just a few team members without having to have a large department.

Adrian Cohn: Yeah. So you've been doing translation now for a while. Like you've got five to seven years of experience now managing translation. What have you learnt? What are the two or three things that come to mind when you look back at what you've done? Because you've built a pretty robust company here. Cool product, 13 markets. That's not a small volume of... Is it 12 or 13? I keep...

Tobi Raub: It's 10 actually.

Adrian Cohn: 10 Okay.

Tobi Raub: Getting to more soon.

Adrian Cohn: All right so we're on the way. So you've got 10 markets, that's still, that's a lot of places to support, languages to consider. What have you learned? When you look back on this if you could go back five or seven years, what would you tell yourself to do differently?

Tobi Raub: I guess one of the takeaways would be, first of all, I think it was a good decision to try a translation, a localization early on. So that's not necessarily something I would change. The one thing that we were not really familiar with, or realized then at some point, was that trying some homebrew set up in terms of the translation management, and in terms of the content management wasn't really going to be working all too well. There was a time where say some of our developers had the time to set it all up and to look after it and maintain, but then as soon as they got to easy, it turned into a bit of a challenge to find the time to actually make sure it wasn't going to be falling apart anytime soon. So I guess that that would be one of the takeaways, make sure that you use a decent system from early on if you can. Do your job in evaluating the market, see what's out there that works for your size of company that works for the volume of content you want to translate and that you want to publish. It's perfectly fine to start small, and go for something that's a bit more affordable. But be aware that depending on how things develop, that you will have to migrate again to do something a bit more, a bit bigger and a bit more comprehensive. So in hindsight, I might've done without the homebrew part and say gone for, in our case, WordPress and the plug in a bit earlier. But then also move away from that a bit earlier, once we got through that growth phase that was suitable.

Adrian Cohn: And so with all of this knowledge and fair enough to say in hindsight, these are the things that you would have done differently. And maybe there are some people who are listening to this that will listen to your learnings. But now that you've got things set up in a way that you're satisfied with, what are the things that you look at on a daily, or weekly, or monthly basis to validate the effort that you're putting in.

Tobi Raub: So we, as you can imagine, we have quite a few analytics and data collection, and statistics, and measurement KPIs going on. For the marketing side, for the individual landing pages, for the blog posts for all the translations, for how users work or interact with the application. So all of these are quite important to keep an eye on, as you do the translations and as you write the blog posts. First of all, write something that people are actually interested in, make sure that it also makes sense when you translate it into the other languages. Don't write something just for the sake of search engine optimization because someone looks at it and doesn't get any value out of it. They're going to be disappearing again in a few seconds and that doesn't do you any good? It doesn't provide a solution for the person who is actually looking for a solution. And maintaining that level of quality of the content that you write. In our case, in English, in the other languages is quite an important factor as well. And through all the tools that are available in terms of analytics, say Google Analytics to probably name one of the most popular ones. You can observe quite well, how content gets received. How people interact with it, how long they stay and read, or whether they click through to your app or to another piece of content. And we'd constantly try and optimize that, make sure we provide something useful to the reader.

Adrian Cohn: Well, interesting because your team is relatively small 60 people now, but you're still involved with localization and you're describing how you do an analysis of the content. Like one pathway is through Google Analytics, seeing engagement on site. Are they clicking through, things like that. Do you have people internally validating content or do you skip that altogether?

Tobi Raub: No, we do, we do. We have not just an SEO specialist, but also very skilled writers that do the research into the different topics, make decisions on what they would like to write about. Then we have a couple of writers that we hire on a prodigal basis, but then they get their information from the person inside our team that has done the research previously. And just everybody knows that it is pretty important to arrive at a high level of quality. If we want to get the results out of the content that we produce that we would like to see. And that has been working quite well. We've always put a bit of an emphasis on that. Whenever a new team member starts in that space, they simply soak up that attitude in the first couple of days. And in the hiring process, we also make sure that they are the kind of person that we think would be a good fit into our existing team. And that quality component is certainly an important one in. In terms of me still working in that space. It makes a point in the sense that we do think that it is very important, that one of the early guys, and that we would like to keep putting an emphasis on it. Let's see for how long I'll be active in that space. Maybe at some point, we're going to have additional specialists as the team grows, but for now, I am happy to keep doing it.

Adrian Cohn: When you're working with your colleagues. And I assume you have town halls or company wide meetings, is localization a big topic of those meetings. Is it something that you emphasize as a strategic initiative, and if so, what do you usually say?

Tobi Raub: Yeah, it's definitely fairly high up on the agenda simply because of the results that we see by focusing on it, or by having it as one of the pillars of the different activities that we undertake in the company. Yes, we do have team meetings, we have regular team meetings and calls and so on. It's not like that I talk about localization all the time, but it's mostly because it's inherently understood that it is an important area, and then we have a couple of people that focus on it. So it doesn't need a regular reminder for everybody to realize, or to know that we should be doing this and we need to keep doing this. In terms of the statistics and how translation and block prose writing, and creating video templates and so on and so forth is going. People in the team are keeping an eye on that. So it's not just from the localization angle, but localization is part of the broader marketing activities space and growth space. That's why it's not just me having to provide that input for everybody else, but it's a sufficient number of other team members that keep it in mind, and constantly check and make sure it's all going how we would like it to.

Adrian Cohn: It's still pretty cool though that you're part of the team that brings your product to the global market. I think it's fair that most CEOs, most co-founders, they understand that translation is important. For some of the reasons that you described. If there's an opportunity in a market that doesn't speak English, then you have to translate the content, but there's something about the connection that you have to the process that I find really cool. It could be something that ignites or fuels greater interest from other executives in other organizations to be more part of the process. Do you spend a lot of time hearing out international customers, so it informs how you invest in translation and localization?

Tobi Raub: Yeah, we do. We do conduct extensive user interviews and run surveys and so on and so forth. In product management and in growth and the localization is a part of that, in terms of asking specific questions about it. It's not necessarily... Well, depending on the kind of interviews that are being conducted, it's not a main piece, but it's understood by product manager, management and by others, that it is important. I'm repeating myself. Because of the early positive results and the realization that we should be focusing on, it's just part of the DNA of the company that we do think it's very important. Some of the team members that joined us a bit more recently also we're active in the localization space and the previous companies, and saw the positive results there. I'm not sure whether our founders were involved, but they definitely had a positive opinion about it. And for us, because we are still quite small, it's been translation as the main localization piece so far, but there are all sorts of other aspects that we haven't tackled yet. For instance, in terms of providing a bit more custom content for different countries. We have been running some experiments with local currency and local payment options, but need to spend a bit more effort in that space, so that's going to be part the journey in the next couple of months.

Adrian Cohn: Awesome. Well, we can't wait to see how that unfolds and I'm so glad that you got the itch to become a founder of a company because it led us to having this great conversation today Tobi. And I feel like I learned so much, and this was just such a great opportunity to connect with somebody on a subject matter that we love very much here at Smartling. So thank you Tobi for being on the show.

Tobi Raub: Thanks very much for having me.

Adrian Cohn: I hope you loved this episode as much as I did. Tobi has some exciting new things coming soon. So if you haven't already, go check out clipchamp.com in one of 10 different languages that they support. If you loved this episode of The Loc Show, it would make my day if you left a review. It goes a long way to help other people discover how to become an expert in translation and localization. And it helps to continue attracting amazing guests like Tobi. Thanks for listening and see you next week.

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