Is it fair to say that a lot of slide decks are pretty boring? PowerPoint has been around for a long, long time, and almost anyone can slap together a bunch of slides with the headline and bullet point templates. We had a brief escape from that monotony back in 2009 when Prezi launched, but now we’re back to the same old, same old. Now an Israeli startup called Emaze is trying to tackle this familiar problem and make slide-based presentations bearable once more.
Emaze is the brainchild of a three-founder team — Motti Nisani, a former VP of Marketing at NICE Systems; Shai Schwartz, a graphic designer; and Arial Lipshin, Emaze’s CEO and resident Ph.D. All three gave presentations extensively in their past lives and noticed a fatal flaw in the process — the slides weren’t very engaging.
“A good presentation is like a good story,” Nisani said. The content is extremely important, but good visuals can help keep the audience interested and focused on the presentation. The three found that the default PowerPoint slides weren’t cutting it, and doing anything better required some extensive knowledge of the application.
Emaze, which closed an $800,000 seed round back in January, is focused on helping the most basic users create good-looking presentations. The service is based in HTML 5 and aims to work on multiple platforms and devices. Theoretically, the app should work on your iPad, though I couldn’t get it to. I’ve been told the team does have plans for native iOS and Android apps at some point in the future.
In the drab land of PowerPoint and Google Drive slides that most of us are subjected to, Prezi does stand with Emaze as an alternative. But the Emaze team saw some problems with Prezi, too. Nisani pointed to that product’s learning curve as well as the fact that a lot of the presentations generated with Prezi have a similar look and feel.
“One VC that we spoke with told me last year that every founder came with a Prezi presentation,” he said. In no uncertain terms: it got old.
Emaze also hopes that its growing list of slide template options will lure users over to its service. As Nisani told me, “Prezi is a template inside Emaze,” meaning that if you want to create a Prezi-style presentation, Emaze will let you do that. But there are many other styles, such as one that pastes your slides on the sides and roofs of buildings, jumping between them as you advance. At this point, the list of slide templates includes Desktop, Infographics, City 3D, 3D Lounge, Portfolio and Simple Slides (for those who want a more PowerPoint-esque experience).
You’re probably wondering: does it cost anything? Right now, no. Emaze is currently in beta, a state which Nisani expects to go about two more months. The company then plans to switch to a freemium model, where free users will be limited to 10 presentations that can’t be made private. The premium tier should cost around $24 per year and won’t include any limits.
You can check Emaze out at emaze.com.