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Developing easy-to-use software for video editing: Inside China’s Startups

Written by Gozde Celik Published on 

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Pearl Mountain seeks a slice of a global video editing software market that is expected to hit USD 1.1 billion by 2025.

The demand for video editing services is growing daily, as more businesses across the world are using video-centric social media platforms for their marketing strategies, while individuals are increasingly consuming video content via short-video apps such as ByteDance’s TikTok or Kuaishou.

The global video editing software market size is expected to reach USD 1.1 billion by 2025, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.4% during the forecast period, according to KBV Research. What’s more, 83% of marketers believe that video is becoming vital for their marketing campaigns, Market Watch reported.

David Lin, who shares a passion for photography and video editing, decided to found his own company, PearlMountain, in 2006, targeting online photo and video editing software.

The firm launched its flagship product, video editing app FlexClip, in 2019. The platform provides free tools to edit high-resolution short-videos of up to one minute for individuals and businesses. For more advanced functions, including the possibility of editing longer videos, FlexClip charges between USD 5 to USD 20 monthly, depending on the subscription package.

FlexClip reported a 400% user growth reaching 330,000 monthly active users by the end of 2019, while the app has already been downloaded 430,000 times in 2020, five times more than last year, Lin recently told KrASIA in an interview.

PearlMountain’s founder Xiao (David) Lin, during a trip to Rome, Italy.

The birth of FlexClip

Lin, who majored in computer science, started his journey by creating photo editing software and sharing it as open-source software. The positive feedback from the online community encouraged him to improve those tools, while he gradually set up a development-oriented team that later resulted in the foundation of PearlMountain.

In the first years of PearlMountain, the firm released several software products like FotoJet, DesignEvo, and DesignCap to create high-quality photographic work, targeting amateurs photographers.

“In the process of developing graphics and multimedia tools, my team and I realized that there is a large number of users who do not have professional graphics and multimedia editing skills. However, they still have a strong desire to make exquisite graphics and video works by themselves, to record the moments of life, or to use it in their work,” Lin told KrASIA about the conception of FlexClip.

He explained that after using several premium editing products, such as Adobe Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve, he realized that these programs have a steep learning curve. He also tried several online video editing tools, which were quite simple to handle. However, uploading videos to a server in advance took too long, while the online apps also did not allow the user to preview the videos in real-time.

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“This results in poor user experience, while it creates a potential risk of personal privacy leaks,” Lin said.

Therefore, he decided to develop FlexClip, which can be executed directly from the user’s browser. After signing up on the FlexClip platform, users don’t need to download and install any program. Instead, they can open the browser and import their video for quick editing with a real-time preview. Users can then edit their video project by adding clips (called storyboards inside the site) with graphics, photos, or backgrounds. During the whole editing process, help cards are presented to guide users within the workspace and options.

FlexClip is based on HTML5 technology, which provides webpages and applications the possibility to store data on the client-side locally, while it can also operate offline, a good added value for users who value privacy. The company also partners with royalty-free stock platform Storyblocks, granting users access to a stock library of over 900,000 video clips and more than 100,000 free music tracks.

His core vision for PearlMountain’s FlexClip is that everyone can design “stunning work” with user-friendly software tools in an effortless way.  “Not everyone needs to be a robust video editor or a video designer to create a nice video,” Lin said.

FlexClip’s browser interface. The company’s software allows users to run directly on the user’s browser. Source: FlexClip.

Rising demand and challenges

Lin expects demand for FlexClip to continue growing, as video stories on social media platforms are gaining importance among young people. “So, we hope that FlexClip will come handy in helping users to solve the biggest problem: how to edit the video in minutes without any design skills.”

According to Lin, in recent years, FlexClip has recorded over 50%l user growth each year, while the platform has been used by netizens all around the world. “We localized FlexClip services to the most used seven languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, English, Japanese, French, and German,” Lin told KrASIA.

However, he also recognizes his company’s biggest challenge is understanding users’ needs while making competitive products. He says the key to success in the video editing software industry is to gain customer’s trust by providing a better user experience.

Another challenge is the competition represented by a growing number of software producers entering the video editing field. Yet, FlexClip tries to differentiate itself by being an easy-to-use video editing platform, Lin affirmed.

While platforms such as Kuaishou’s Kuaiying, ByteDance’s CapCut, and BiliBili’s Cut promote straightforward software for video editing, FlexClip also targets businesses looking for simple but professional editing video software, he explained. “Our main users are small- and medium-sized enterprises, followed by individuals,” Lin noted.

“Our product pursues an easy-to-use functionality to bring a comfortable design experience. FlexClip is unique as it provides various templates for users to make easy edits while securing their data privacy,” he added.

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Not looking for external investment

When asked about the financials of PearlMountain and FlexClip, Li said that the company does not seek external investment at the moment.

“Because we are worried that our decisions and future development of our company would be interrupted by investors’ visions or plans. Besides, thanks to users’ appreciation of our products, we have sufficient profit to strengthen our company,” Li said.

Yet, he’s aware that technology is changing very fast in the software industry, so PearlMountain and its products need to stay up to date with new technological innovations.

“From my point of view, as long as our products continue to provide users what they need, and as long as we continue following recent trends on communication software, such as social media tools, then we can obtain more users and continue to stay profitable.”

This article is part of KrASIA’s “Inside China’s Startups” series, where the writers of KrASIA speak with founders of tech companies in the country.

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