A New Chapter for VBI

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🌱

Created on February 16, 2021

The VBI family just got bigger! 🎉

Today is an incredibly exciting day for me, my teammates and my family. My company, Visuals by Impulse has been acquired by Corsair (Nasdaq: $CRSR) & will operate as a product line within the Elgato business unit! While this deal has been inked/closed for a little over a week now, I'm super excited to share with the world & to fill you in on the specifics.

How we got here

For the past few years, we've entertained a number of offers and pursued fundraising. The entire process was eye opening and ultimately forces you to peel back the curtains of every nook and cranny of your business. You quickly learn who has your best interest, who is interested in making a quick buck and ultimately you latch on to those who believe in your vision.

A few years ago, the Elgato team reached out to us, with curiosity to explore what it would look like if they hired VBI for creating Stream Deck icons. We obliged. It was a great opportunity to explore design + hardware integration and to ideate on what makes this workflow even easier for creators. Fast forward to Twitchcon 2019, we had the chance to meet many of the Elgato folks in person, who were incredibly helpful throughout our first booth at a convention.

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Following the momentum of Twitchcon, we continued to work closely on creating new products compatible within Stream Deck. Even partnering up on bringing unique experiences to the 100 Thieves team using Elgato + VBI designs. They extended their team to us and opened new doors for our business. Both of our teams value quality over everything else. If it's not the best it can possibly be, then why even do it?

Around October 2020, we began talks of what it would look like to plant our flag underneath the Corsair brand. We had a monster year of sales in 2020 and the year before that, so finances weren't the issue here. Making our mark on the industry by integrating our designs and tech into the world's leading hardware provider - now that.. That's what has us bursting at the seams with new ideas and excitement.

February 2021, a new adventure begins.

Who is Corsair?

They’re one of the most recognizable gaming brands on earth, creating high-performance gear and technology to give you an edge. From award-winning PC components and peripherals to premium streaming equipment and smart ambient lighting, Corsair is an industry legend. They’re also home to some of the most beloved names in gaming, including ORIGIN PC, SCUF Gaming and Elgato. For more than 25 years Corsair have been helping gamers play at their best.

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Who is Elgato?

They're the team that brought you your favorite capture cards, green screens, microphones, key lights and stream decks. Many of you are already familiar with the brand.

For those that aren’t, Elgato specializes in gearing up content creators. In fact, they’re the leading provider of hardware and software for broadcasters. Over the years, they’ve built a reputation as one of the most beloved brands in streaming. Right now across the world, millions of creators are using Elgato studio equipment  — on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook Gaming and beyond.

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The journey, then the leap

VBI has always been bootstrapped from the jump. Since 2015, I've easily invested over $100K of my own funds into this dream. I won't sugar coat it, there were some tough days in the beginning. But, I always held on to the notion that most people don't experience success, because they don't have the patience to see an idea through long enough. If it isn't instant, they move on.

Over the years I've been fortunate enough to have great paying jobs within cyber security. Jobs that allowed me to learn about management, coding and navigating my way through incredibly large companies.

Nike onboarding, October 2016
Nike onboarding, October 2016

In 2018, I set a sales goal in my head. "If VBI can consistently sustain this level of revenue, I'm dropping everything. I'm going for it." While this didn't happen in 2018, it surpassingly happened in 2019. So, I was faced with the decision: do you take the once in a lifetime chance to pursue this or stick to what's safe? Safe didn't interest me. I created a plan, saved every penny I had and made daily progress towards "the leap."

That October, I said goodbye to my colleagues and friends at Nike in Portland, Oregon. Kelsey and I sold off belongings and packed what was left in a pod to be shipped. I drove straight to San Diego for VBI's first ever booth at Twitchcon and Kelsey drove straight to our new destination, Denver.

That drive to San Diego with John Martin was one of the most liberating feelings I've ever experienced. On my way to chasing my dreams. Jobless. Enough cash in the bank for a safety net. Uncertain what's next. Those memories will stick with me the rest of my life.

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Some said I threw away my career. I walked away from a job and profession that most people would kill for. I was reminded of that daily. So to be in this position I'm in today, the best possible outcome of the situation.. gets me a bit emotional. I'm still processing everything. But, it brings a smile to my face knowing those naysayers are eating their heart out right now. Failure never was and will never be an option, so long as you work hard - life is your oyster.

Learn by doing

I owe a lot to Nike, I learned a lot. Nike taught me these ten principles that I would then implement into my company's maxims and practice daily.

  1. Our business is change.
  2. We're on offense. All the time.
  3. Perfect results count - not a perfect process. Break the rules: fight the law.
  4. This is as much about battle as about business.
  5. Assume nothing. Make sure people keep their promises. Push yourselves, push others. Stretch the possible.
  6. Live off the land.
  7. Your job isn't done until the job is done.
  8. Dangers: bureaucracy, personal ambition, energy takers vs energy givers, knowing our weaknesses, don't get too many things on the platter.
  9. It won't be pretty.
  10. If we do the right things, we'll make money damn near automatic.

You're the man, Phil.

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The model

Our business model has always revolved around leveraging our Studio team & projects to help inform/productize our Marketplace of the newest trends and improvements we can bring to creators.

Julian Fest most accurately described it as a parallel to Formula 1 Racing and the never ending pursuit of perfection and innovation.

Our Studio is an integral part of the Visuals by Impulse team, whose mission is to expedite product innovation for creators across the world. The Studio fuels design innovation specifically through knowledge and insight gained from the largest influencers and brands. The research encompasses fundamental questions to unlock innovation, and builds on a knowledge base by tapping into insights from the world’s best streamers. Over the years, the Studio team have tested countless ideas in pursuit of improving audience engagement, reducing distractions on screen and achieving our client's main performance objectives.

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As a global leader in broadcast design, the Studio has established partnerships with major brands and influencers across the globe. The quest to be better than yesterday continues.

What's next?

Here's a sneak peak at some new additions on the horizon:

  • New team members: We can’t wait to expand the VBI family! Get ready to welcome new artists, developers, management and Client Success staffers.
  • More (and native) Stream Deck icons
  • Better design analytics: We want you to have better analytics, to see which designs are working for your channel (and which aren’t). That’s why we’re developing new strategies to track your channel performance in correlation to your designs.
  • More artist opportunities: The creator economy is growing at an eye-popping pace. That’s why we’re excited to launch our VBI Contributor program shortly, which will allow creators to list their products on our platform — and reap all of the benefits.
  • New OBS plugins
  • One-Click OBS setup
  • New Twitch extensions
  • Overhauled partnership program
  • New & improved tools: We’re excited to unleash our engineers on a host of new streamer tools. Up next, we’re creating a Banner Maker, which will allow you to create custom profile banners for any platform. Existing VBI tools (like the transition maker and free panel maker) will see major improvements.
  • More video tutorials: With a beefed-up Client Success Team — and more production resources — the VBI YouTube channel is in for a major upgrade. That means more how-to guides and video walkthroughs to gear you up for success.

What is NOT changing

Not everything is changing. Here are a few things that will stay the same:

  • Our current team: As mentioned, no employees or contractors were dropped in the acquisition. That includes me! I will continue to stay on as Founder and General Manager (GM) of Visuals by Impulse.
  • Our mission: We’re as committed as ever to providing professional design to all streamers — no matter the size of their audience. Beautiful, customizable live-stream design shouldn’t be exclusive to the pros, nor should it break your wallet.
  • Free products: We love creating free designs, and we won’t be stopping anytime soon. In fact, get ready to see more free products than ever before. That also includes much-needed updates for some of our existing, classic free packages.
  • Quality over quantity: Some design providers rush products out the door, with very little depth or substance. That’s never been us, and never will be. Every VBI product will continue to be jam-packed with features and customization options.
  • Our pricing: We’ve always believed quality stream design should be affordable, and that’s not changing. You’ll see the same low prices you’ve come to expect from us. That means $30 for most stream packages, with individual components running between $5-15.
  • Empowering artists: From its founding, VBI has created sustainable jobs and revenue streams for designers of all kinds. That commitment won’t end here. You deserve to make a living, while making the things you love.

The team

Our success is not based on any one particular person's actions. Myself included. The conglomeration of talented individuals all over the world - that's the magic of VBI.

There's so many crucial roles that help shape our company. Our creatives tend to get the spotlight for their amazing work, but there's so many more pivotal folks behind the scenes:

  • Client Success Team
  • Content Manager
  • Community Coordinator
  • Project Managers
  • Creative Engineers
  • Leadership Team

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I'm so thankful for each and every one of you. Your faith in me and our team is incomprehensible. 💚

What's next for me personally?

As for me, I'm not going anywhere. I'm incredibly excited to work closely with the Elgato and Corsair family. My role as GM for VBI is a long term play for me. I have so many big plans to continue growing the team and elevating our teammates. Just getting started here.

I'm looking forward to celebrating with my family and certainly seeing them more often. I'm also interested in new investing opportunities.

I'm also excited to travel the world once COVID is under control and it's safe to do so. Kelsey and I have not taken a vacation together in our 14+ years of knowing each other. It's time to change that.

For now, we're in the process of moving into our new home and getting acclimated to the new area. It feels good to get back to focusing on our business and sharing my thoughts along the way on Twitter.

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Special thanks

in no particular order (aside from Mom 😘)

  • Mom - this moment is full circle of all of your sacrifices throughout the years. thanks for always being my rock & thinking the world of me. any kid would be lucky to have that level of admiration in their lives, that's never lost on me.
  • Kelsey - putting up with my stress induced mental breakdowns, countless hours + weekends of not spending time together & being so supportive.
  • Eric Hardin - your leadership & mentorship helped me get to this point. your support throughout this journey has meant the world.
  • John Martin - for always challenging my views, your passion for VBI has always been contagious. who knew a difficult client could transpire into someone I consider a brother.
  • ICM Partners - thanks for always making us feel special & saving us a seat at the table.
  • Nick Avola - you've elevated our content across the web by ten fold. thank you for your countless hours of work and helping get us on the map from the beginning of time.
  • Kristi Horton - although my entrepreneurial path has diverged from our days of digital forensics/cyber security, the principles you taught me have remained the same. forever in your debt.
  • Miguel Lozada - thank you for taking a chance on us & being the great connector that you are. I promise we won't disappoint.
  • Kelly & Pat - Kelsey & I appreciate you opening your home to us more than you'll know. you've made the scariest career move of my life far less scary with your hospitality.
  • Julian Fest - you and your team have made this entire transition easier than I ever imagined. I'm thrilled to build alongside you.
  • Grandma - thanks to you, I had the opportunity to begin working at age 13 - which has taught me invaluable work ethic that I apply every day. thank you for everything you've done.
  • Tray Stidham - the genius behind our brand, the most consistent creative I've ever met. thank you for your countless hours of hard work.
  • Jared Rowe - you've embraced the ambiguity of the marketplace role and continuously challenged our team to think bigger than we did yesterday.

While I haven't listed an all inclusive list here, there's hundreds of people who have helped me along this journey. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To the nearly half a million creators & brands who’ve used VBI, thank you for all the feedback you’ve given both with messages and with your wallets. Six years ago, I never imagined this side hustle would end up impacting so many lives in such a positive way across the globe.

To my VBI crew, it’s humbling that you chose to spend any amount of your working hours helping me build this idea. You could have worked anywhere and you chose VBI. That means the world to me as a founder.

To the creatives reading this, I hope it inspires you to build your legacy. Hang in there. The journey can be long & even exhausting at times, but all great things in life take time & an unstoppable work ethic.

I'm even more hungry & motivated than I've ever been in my life. I'm humbled by this whole experience. Above all else, it's the most fulfilling feeling of elevating all of my teammates & opening this new chapter in our lives together.

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To the next chapter,

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Even more memories along the way 📸

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