Bettina Hein CEO of Pixability interviewed by Blair Griffin
I see entrepreneurship in a distributed computing way. I can have the best super computer in the world; multi-core, everything tricked out but it will not be as powerful as if I harnessed thousands of computers around the world in a distributed network. If I am a Sloan Entrepreneur and I have this brilliant idea and I enlist a lot of people to help me improve my idea, give me feedback, connect me to other people, then I have become so much richer because I have harnessed those resources. The art of the entrepreneur is largely one of being resourceful. What I delight most in my profession is that you create something, it’s an idea and it turns into something.
What did you dream of being as a child? A couple different things. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. I didn’t quite have a concept of what it meant to have a “career”. That was not something that I understood intuitively. The first thing I wanted to be was a nurse because my dad is a doctor and my mom is a pharmacist and I thought that would be very complimentary, (laughs) a very complimentary profession. But, that was when I was 4. The first time my dad took me to the hospital he had to perform stitches on one of my friends and I couldn’t see blood so I decided, “I’m not doing that”. Then I was very interested in law, and I was very interested in becoming a businesswoman. So I did both. I got a law degree and I got a business degree. I decided to do that when I was 7 or 8. My grandfather, who created a very scalable coal business, would always tell me about his exploits and how he built his business. We would practice doing arithmetic together. We would calculate the size of the German social security system, or those kinds of things. He taught me all about coal mining because he was a coal miner. He would make drawings and we’d calculate things. We also created business models. How do you earn money with this? How do you do that? How does this work? To this day one of the things is I do is calculate business models in my headit’s sort of fun for me. If I’m on the treadmill and I have nothing
to do I’ll figure out how does this gym really work? How many members do they have to have? How much does it cost to lease the machines? What’s the rent? What’s the square footage? How does all of that work together? And then figure out their business model. Where’s their break-even point? How they can make money off of this and what’s the ROI on that? I do that for entertainment. Other people do other things, but my mind has this extra cycle. I think it just comes from my family background. When did you first think of the idea for Pixability and what was the impetus of making that idea into a reality? How have your goals changed since the start of Pixability? I was at MIT and I had transitioned out of my last company. Then I had this idea that there was something happening in the video space. I had written my Masters Thesis at MIT around business models in the software industry. The problem with many, many tech companies is that they are just too early. They see something, it’s obvious that something’s going to happen, but then it takes 10-15 years for it really to happen. I was looking for something that was closer to adoption and it was right there. And I thought, “Video is definitely happening”. Originally I thought that people take all this footage of their families eating holiday cookies, opening presents, and weddings and they never do anything with it. I was going to find a way to help them unearth that and put it into a form where they could consume it. Soooo, That didn’t work. You have to be very light footed and figure out how to make it work. With Pixability we basically figured out that even though people loved our service everybody that was buying our service of these family edited videos had a household income of a quarter million dollars or more and they were paying us roughly $300 to do this. That’s not a market. So, I had bought a flip camera, went to a trade show and brought the flip camera. I loved using that flip camera! Then I had the experience that my