As we all know, the main feature that distinguishes the human species is intelligence. Our brain, and consequently our intellectual capacity, has undergone an extremely slow process that has required the passage of millions of years and countless generations of humans for its development. However, this process has been accelerated by two factors that ended up creating a huge difference between the human species and other animal races: communication and cooperation.
Let’s go back to the origins of the human species. We begin with the discovery of fire. The first thing we observe is that a hominid rubbing two stones together has little or nothing to do with communication; but what would have become of this discovery if this person had not been able to transmit their knowledge?
The race that began that day, more than 1 million years ago, isn’t over yet. The fire was only an excuse to have a meeting place, a tool to remember the way to the cave, a starting point. From the bonfire the ashes remained and with this, one could paint. When today we visit prehistoric caves and see the engravings there, sometimes we think: “wow, my daughter could surely paint better”; but try to imagine the usefulness that this kind of message could have had 80,000 years ago… Impersonal communication between humans was being born, a concept that would change everything.
From caves we went on to great migrations, passing through ice ages, mammoths and squirrels looking for acorns Nomadic life was left behind, and the first large human settlements were established. Thanks to the community, and the continuous exchange of information, the development process accelerated, and in “just” a few thousand years, the first civilizations were already using hieroglyphics as the first means of written communication.
Just as the discovery of fire is considered the beginning of prehistory, the invention of writing, in 3,500 B.C., is considered the end. Look at the contrast. It took us 1,500,000 years to go from cave paintings to inventing the first Mesopotamian writing systems. And then in just 5,000 years we went from building pyramids around the Nile to building them in a digital editor.
“Anyone can make history. Only a great man can write it.” – Oscar Wilde
Thanks to hieroglyphics and especially papyrus, information was no longer only transmitted through art or speech, now it could be written and read in different places of a city or empire. Communication was no longer totally subject to time and space.
We were already in the age of Ancient history and the first books were being written, copied and used. What was learned many thousands of years ago could now be learned in less than one human life, unfortunately less than 40 years at that time.
Despite these enormous advances, most of the knowledge was still in the hands of a lucky few with enough resources to buy a book and learn to read. But it was not the only source of culture. At the beginning of the Middle Ages another very popular and effective way of learning was born: the storytelling juggler Vivid, visual stories were told that had a broad appeal. A complete way of transmitting all those stories that otherwise people could never discover. Once again, visual and dynamic learning won the practical game over the purely textual.
Middle, modern and contemporary ages have followed since then, gradually displacing animal physical superiority in favor of human intelligence. Great inventions such as the printing press, great schools and universities, and more recent advances such as cinema and television, have contributed to this adaptation.
Many changes have taken place throughout our history, but the only change comparable to the digital revolution we are living today may be the aforementioned discovery of fire. Can you imagine a world without the Internet? Many will probably ask Google what this scenario would look like.
The change in communication is here to stay. The Internet marks a before and after, establishing the beginning of an era where advances happen daily and where, thanks to our mobile or smartphone, we can know them in real time from anywhere in the world.
It is at this moment, at this new turning point for the human species, where the story of Genial.ly begins, a project conceived with the intention of leading the new era of information.
“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now” – Chinese proverb
Our “now” begins in April 2015 when Obama was still living in the White House and Stephen Curry was not yet well known. An idea called Genial.ly was devised in a company specializing in communication within the sector of sustainability: Ecoavantis Where did this idea come from? From this reality: faced with complex concepts and content to explain, Visual and Interactive Communication was the one that achieved the best understanding, engagement and memorability.
But this type of content (visual and interactive) was only possible for professionals or teams with knowledge in design and programming. In addition, the specialization of many tools meant that a user needed to learn how to use a multitude of programs in order to create quality content. That made them expensive and only accessible to large companies for special occasions (launches, corporate reports, the Olympic Games, etc.).
And not only was it expensive to have access to this type of resources, but also, visual content had been stagnant for more than 30 years in boring presentations and static material typical of an era without quality technology. Didn’t we say that communication advanced in years what used to take millennia? The creation of content, however, seemed to hardly be advancing.
It is in this situation when Juan Rubio, then CEO of Ecoavantis, enters the scene. The first decision taken by the team was to try to create a tool that instead of allowing any company to create and modify visual and interactive content, but rather trying to create a tool with which anyone can create that type of content without the need to have design or programming knowledge.
“The secret to successful hiring is this: look for the people who want to change the world”- Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.
In short, Juan put his background as a biologist to good use. He wanted to improve how we communicate in the future by learning from the past to help people create content that we are biologically predisposed to consume Therefore, the first step was to bring together the right people to start this ambitious project.
First, the person who would model the code for the tool entered the scene: Chema Roldán, current CTO of Genial.ly. Chema, at the time, was working in an innovation consulting firm in Madrid. He didn’t think twice about leaving everything and moving to join the project.
When the idea began to take shape after several long discussions, Chema and Juan realized that an initiative of this scope needed a communication expert. That person would be Luis Garcia, currently CMO of Genial.ly. Luis, a co-founder of the visual content agency Fugazzz, immediately accepted the challenge.
If Juan, Luis and Chema –despite their different backgrounds– could agree on one thing, it was that communication was the key that had brought human beings to this point in their history and that this was not going to change. Visual communication is universal and unrestricted by language or cultural differences as well as barriers of human attention. When we add factors such as interactivity and animation and witness their effects, we can see how that exploration and restlessness which began in our early days is still present.
This is what lead to the birth of innovative communication techniques such as StoryTelling and Gamification. As complex beings, our need for originality and variety of content is reinforced day after day. One day, the presentation format stopped being enough for everything we wanted to communicate. Suddenly, we needed a tool capable of supporting us in creating all the content we could imagine and more.
It was May 2015 and Genial.ly already had its first public beta version ready to be released. In the beginning, all the impact and users were people closely tied to the founders’ personal and professional circles. During the first 5 months following its launch, Genially reached a total of 4,000 users. Not bad, but a far cry from what was left to come.
By April 2016, Genial.ly’s team was made up of 8 people and our community began to expand with increasing speed. After the first year, the growth in our number of users began to multiply exponentially At the end of 2015 we had 4,000 users, and in the following 7 months we reached 100,000. One year later, the community had well over 500,000, and by May 2018 we’d reached a million users.
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” – Pablo Picasso
2018 was a key year for the expansive leap that Genial.ly wanted to take. Of course, you can’t grow without adding workers to the cause. Remember in 2016 when we said that there were only 8 of us on the team? By 2018, we had grown to a team of 32 people and hundreds of ambassadors distributed worldwide.
This international expansion has surprised even the most optimistic of us. In 3 years, Genial.ly has gone from being a local company to one of the companies with the fastest growth internationally with users and views in all the world’s official countries.
Sometimes, when small businesses start to grow, they can lose sight of what has led them to success: the people who use the tool. We are very aware that our community has brought us here and that if we want to continue along this path, we have to trust it. So we asked you for your thoughts on new features, new categories, new templates, etc. and we’ve advanced with the feedback you’ve given us. We cannot thank you enough
And we’re proud. Very proud. Of facing our fears. Of taking a chance on quality content that’s interactive and different from the rest. Of keeping our promise and providing a tool that allows you to create spectacular content quickly and easily. To be part of the evolution in communication, a process that began millions of years ago and that each year takes another step forward. We are proud of our community, a strong and healthy one where cooperation and interactivity are fundamental values.
The journey that we began huddled around a fire quickly turned into a challenge that remains even today. Many years have passed–we’ve learned so much and made a few mistakes, but we’ve done it all together. Communication is what allows us to share this process. It’s the spark that strengthens our togetherness as we’ve grown through a journey that began with fire, continued with the creation of the written word and brought us to where we are today with tools for online communication. Will you be left behind?