Today, with a heavy heart, I announce the closure of Storyboard. We will cease operations and turn off all Storymaker software on Feb 1st, 2023. If you are a Custorian or Storyboard customer, please continue to read more about the next steps and how we aim to make this transition as smooth as possible.
I originally started Storyboard as 'Custorian guide' to reveal the compelling stories hidden within Art exhibitions when thanks to 2020's COVID lockdown, virtual attendance became a sudden priority. Initially, our exhibitions were photogrammetry of physical exhibitions, but our analytics quickly suggested the real opportunity was in the overlaid short-tappable stories. 3D scans of exhibitions looked great, but the attendees hardly stuck around for more than a few seconds. But if just one tappable story were clicked, dwell time quickly lept from 12secs to 2 minutes on average! It was an aha moment, and we pivoted to focus more on the creation of Stories for virtual environments. I sourced and led a team to ideate, develop and deliver a Web3 system to display decentralised versions of TikTok-style stories (30-60sec video) across various virtual reality environments. It's been super exciting to pioneer a new technique of raising dwell time in virtual exhibitions. Our platform used web technologies, display kiosks, and AR to demonstrate that tappable video stories increase visitor engagement in the real world and then again in VR across many unity-based virtual worlds, including Decentraland, Somnium Space.
Why are you shutting down Storyboard?
Raising engagement in virtual exhibitions is challenging, but increasing attendance has remained a more pressing need. Storyboard can reliably increase visitor engagement, but we depend on a marketable audience. Regardless of quality, in 2022 we could not guarantee a significant virtual audience would attend any virtual exhibition. We worked with small agile brands to quickly create engaging exhibitions, but their lack of overall attendance made ongoing virtual exhibitions unjustifiable, so retention of small customers remained challenging.
Only brands big enough to invest in exhibitions for PR and skills investment alone could afford our virtual exhibitions, but such shows often took six months to source, close and create. Our pricing didn't warrant our overheads, and the available customers didn't justify the investment to standardise the process through software.
Startups need to exist far enough ahead of the demand to offer an untapped opportunity but not 'too' far outside observable market conditions to strain the confidence of even early investors.
Additionally, despite attracting 400+ Stories, 50k+ views and £13k from paying customers, we struggled to convince investors of the opportunity beyond what they believed could be quickly cannibalised by existing social networks. Although initial feedback from Creators was favourable, investors feared the additional process overhead wasn't justifiable at scale as evidence suggests we'd be unavoidably black-listed.
There are roads ahead; however, we have no further runway after four pivots. Of course, I could blame the disastrous market conditions and unfavourable capital-raising environment, but ultimately I didn't achieve a clear Product/Market fit within the required timeframe.
I'm a paid customer; what happens next?
Storyboard will honour all contracted agreements; we'll do our best to please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
What will happen to the Storyboard Platform?
We have developed the following audited software written in JS/Node:
- Storyboard's 'Storymaker':
- Converts videos & images into AMP Story format
- Deploys Stories to Google Cloud and Filecoin via IPFS
- CMS for associating Stories with exhibitions
- Narrus: Backup & deploy annotated Matterport 3D captures as CSV
- Custorian: X-Platform Tappable 'Story' Player
If anyone wishes to make an offer for our assets, we'd be happy to hear from you. Please contact email@example.com
Revealing the world's hidden stories remains a noble aim. I thank everyone who joined our team on this adventure and gave us a glimpse of our Web3 / XR future. Everything we ambitioned will evolve in due course, and I wish future entrepreneurs the best of luck in tackling the problem of in-venue virtual engagement.