8 QS with a Silicon Prairie Founder: Alex Kuklinski of NMotion, fyiio
Alex Kuklinski is director of NMotion, a Lincoln-based startup accelerator, and founder & CEO of fyiio, a video tutorial and written training guide platform for businesses. In addition to being a business visionary and a strong voice for the Silicon Prairie startup community, he wears timeless Buddy Holly glasses and fashionable dinosaur shirts from Stitch…
Alex Kuklinski is director of NMotion, a Lincoln-based startup accelerator, and founder & CEO of fyiio, a video tutorial and written training guide platform for businesses. In addition to being a business visionary and a strong voice for the Silicon Prairie startup community, he wears timeless Buddy Holly glasses and fashionable dinosaur shirts from Stitch Fix.
We sat down with Kuklinski to talk about how he got started, what he’s building, and what he’d do differently if given the chance.
How did you get started?
When I was in high school a friend of mine asked me to help her with a video project. Since she’s a girl and I was socially awkward, I uploaded a how-to video to YouTube so I wouldn’t have to help her in person. That video got more views than the other junk I was uploading, so I kept with it. To date the channel has generated over $60,000 in revenue, 23 million views, 32,000 subscribers, and has been featured by the likes of NPR, Engadget and Business Insider.
After I was featured on NPR, I got a ton of requests for written tutorials. YouTube’s obviously a video platform so I never thought about creating written instructions before. That’s when I decided to launch a WordPress blog to combine my YouTube videos with step-by-step written instructions. The website received over a half-million page views, but I ultimately shut it down because it wasn’t scalable or making enough money.
Lessons learned from building both my YouTube channel and website from scratch led me to start my current company, fyiio. My entire career has basically been one long continuous learning experience and evolution of something to do with tutorials.
Is your job what you thought you would be doing when you were a child?
I suck at math, so my aspirations to become a roller coaster designer, meteorologist and astronaut were not successful.
What are you building right now? Why is it important to you?
I am building fyiio and NMotion.
Lev Grossman’s piece in TIME reviewing the original iPhone perfectly encapsulates why I’m building fyiio: “When our tools don’t work, we tend to blame ourselves, for being too stupid or not reading the manual or having too-fat fingers. . . . when our tools are broken, we feel broken. And when somebody fixes one, we feel a tiny bit more whole.”
I fundamentally believe tutorials are broken for those who both create and consume guides. Long videos, walls of text and out-of-date content exist because tool creators are used to building tutorials that don’t help them tailor their content to how people prefer to learn.
For those needing to learn how to do something, our goal is to make the content as accessible as possible so they can learn what they need to and get on with their day. People wouldn’t watch tutorials if they didn’t have a problem, so we make the experience as frictionless and enjoyable as possible.
NMotion is important to me because it’s the one organization that gave me and fyiio a chance. Fyiio would be nowhere near where it is today without the help of NMotion and the Lincoln startup community. Every day I want to help people not make the same mistakes I made and give them the resources to move faster than I did. You don’t need to be a billion-dollar company to give back.
What is your favorite thing that you have ever built? Why was it your favorite?
My mom told me to go outside one day, so I built a rig for my brother and me to play Halo online on the top of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in Omaha. Got on the front page of Android Central for it! I love embracing my inner kid to do something silly every once in a while.
If you could improve one thing about your job or the place that you live, what would the change be?
I wish Omaha and Lincoln would collaborate more. We are collectively the Nebraska startup ecosystem—no one outside here cares about Omaha vs. Lincoln.
Was there anything looking back that you would do differently?
Tons. If you can look at where you were a year ago and laugh/cringe, you’re moving in the right direction.
One of the things I need to improve on is sending out monthly updates. I think a lot of entrepreneurs, myself included, sometimes feel like no one cares. That mindset couldn’t be further from the truth. Communicate often, be transparent and ask for help.
What could the SPN community do to help you succeed?
- Would love to get feedback on our platform from folks who head up customer support or product at early-stage software companies.
- Love to discover new companies and how we can use our program to help them move forward faster.
- Referrals to mentors and investors you found helpful in building your company.
If you could ask these questions to anyone, who would it be?
Gwynne Shotwell, Joel Gascoigne, Sheryl Sandberg
Tom McCauley is digital content producer at AIM Institute and a terrible standup comedian.
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