(First published on We Love Budapest, 20 November 2014)
While giving a presentation makes many people's palms sweat, it's never been easier to present an idea with a tool like Prezi. Zoom in on detailed information or zoom out to show the bigger picture, show a journey with the user hopping along the various milestones, or show how ideas group together. Prezi provides an innovative way of presenting information, making it easier to both explain ideas and understand them.
Prezi came to life in 2009 and has three Hungarian founders. It was Ádám Somlai-Fischer who had the initial idea; he was a media artist who wasn't happy with the existing slide presentation tools. He created his own code for a program that could zoom in and out and explain ideas in a more exciting way. Then Péter Halácsy, who was a professor at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, together with Peter Arvai joined Ádám in creating a product that was easy for non-coders to use as well.
Worldwide Prezi now has 50 million users and more than 160 million public Prezis have been created. But while this Hungarian company faces relentless competition from behemoths like Google and Microsoft, Prezi is no shrinking violet. It's working hard to overcome challenges and keep improving its product to make it more useful, user-friendly and of course popular! Prezi uses the freemium model, so users can have the basic product for free but can upgrade to more features at a price.
Prezi employes 250 people worldwide with 170 in the Budapest office and the rest in San Francisco's Silicon Valley office. The Budapest office is filled with locals andexpats who fit Prezi's work culture of creativity and innovation. There are no set ways to complete tasks: if there's a better or different ways to get the required result then the engineers are given free reign to work in their own way.
Together with Ustream and LogMeIn, Prezi is confident that Budapest is becoming a startup hub in Europe, attracting creative minds from all over the world. Of course Prezi's owners themselves know about the challenges of starting a new business - they themselves went without a salary for about the first year of this new venutre. Now Prezi has a sprawling "Google-esque" office off Nagymező Street, where the focus is clearly on the axis of fun and work. There are guitars at the entrance and the so-called "Problem of the Week" competition is hung on the wall that the engineers can solve for fun.
While the US market and the US office are both key for future growth - and while many don't even know that this is a Hungarian company - Prezi is proud of its Hungarian roots. Prezi has many charity and goodwill projects including Bridge Budapest where, together with NNG, Ustream and LogMeIn, Prezi provides one month fellowships to university students. Reflective of Prezi's culture, this initiative hopes to inspire and empower entrepreneurial and spirited young people to create ideas that make the world a better place.