Featured Startup on Azure - Penxy

Here's the best thing about our interview with Alexey Petrov, co-founder and CTO of penxy -- he told us to stop worrying about the interview and said that it was important that startups just use Microsoft BizSpark to start their business.  Seems a fair enough proposition. Interviews are never as fun as getting a full business up and running. 


penxy turns a tablet device into an instant live stream video and presentation tool. Their back end is on Azure. 

BizSpark:   Tell us who you are and your role in the company:

Alexey Petrov: I’m Alexy Petrov, co-founder, also leading the product development as CTO.

BizSpark:   What did you do before creating your company?

Alexey Petrov: I'm MIPT alumnus (Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology), co-founder of educational startup ColorPen.ru and charity startup 1Minute.ru.

BizSpark:   What is your company’s mission?

Alexey Petrov: We believe education is the thing playing critical role at everyone's life. That is why we are working at Penxy on the platform that empowers anyone to share ideas and learn online, starting with a presenter tool that allows to create and share presentations recording.

BizSpark:   In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:

Alexey Petrov: Penxy is an iPad app that allows to switch slides wirelessly, broadcast them synced with your voice and then share your voice-enhanced decks with anyone.

BizSpark:   How did you get the idea for your company?

Alexey Petrov: We found out that very often we get a slide deck from a colleague or a friend and find ourselves staring at a slide wishing we could hear what the person was saying when presenting. Even video doesn’t solve the problem as even if your presenter spent a lot of efforts of bringing a camera, a tripod and a mic to the presentation, setting everything up and recording. What you’re mostly likely to get in the end is a low quality video where the presenter is too dark or screen is too bright! Last, but not least  - video recording looses the speed and simplicity of navigating through the deck - how do you skip boring or clear to you slides while watching a video? We realized that it would be great to have a “talking slides”  - ones that combine an easy navigation of a slide deck with an ability to listen to a piece of presenter’s speech behind any given slide! But how do we convince presenters to make “talking slides”? Clearly, by providing a tool that makes it very easy to produce them – Penxy. That was the idea.

Alexey Petrov, Co-Founder and CTO of Penxy 

BizSpark:   Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?

Alexey Petrov: Previously we received a grant from Microsoft seed fund in Moscow ($70k) and grant from Skolkovo foundation ($50k). It helped us to make the product, now we are looking for additional $400k to test our business model and show user traction.

BizSpark:   How many employees do you have? How many developers?

Alexey Petrov: There are 10 people in our great team today, 5 of them are developers. Core team has total 15 years of teaching experience, 44 years in IT and 2 successful start-ups raised.

BizSpark:   Are you hiring?  If yes, what are you hiring for and where?

Alexey Petrov: We are looking for evangelists - great speakers those who want to improve the way people present and share their knowledge!

BizSpark:   Which platform are you building on?  Why?

Alexey Petrov: Our client application is made for iOS platform, server side is on Windows Azure. iOS - widespread operating system for tablet computers, at the same time we build app so that its core can be run on any other system and we have plans for other platforms. Regarding the server from our point of view Windows Azure is the most advanced and powerful cloud PaaS solution.

BizSpark:   Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?

Alexey Petrov: I think the biggest software opportunity is cloud-based scalable services, in marketing – mobile and realtime services.

BizSpark:   What do you think about the BizSpark Program?

Alexey Petrov: BizSpark is great. It helped us to grow from the very first  day using Microsoft products, then there was our first Azure subscription for BizSpark users, community help, conferences and so on.

BizSpark:   Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?

Alexey Petrov: Pay more attention to testing but launch your product as soon as possible, cut all features except the only one that matters.

BizSpark:   Who’s your role model?

Alexey Petrov: In fact, I do not know, there are a lot of people that I look up to.

BizSpark:   What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?

Alexey Petrov: Stop reading interviews and start your business today! ;)