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Meet Leslie Kajomovitz – Kamwise, Bringing the Magic of Television to your Zoom Calls

Today we have selected Leslie Kajomovitz to take her interview. She is the CEO & Founder of Kamwise.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

No need to say that it has been a challenging year. Gratefully the entire team and their families are doing good, working from home.   Some have contracted the virus, but thankfully all did well and are fully recovered.

Tell us about you, your career?

Since I could remember, I’ve always been fascinated with cartoons and animation. Like most of us in my generation, I remember watching cartoons every Saturday morning with my brother. So when the time came to decide what I wanted to do I knew I wanted to work somewhere in motion graphics and design.    I set foot from my home in Guatemala to the US to get my university degree and ended up graduating with 2 Bachelors in Science, one in Visual Effects and Motion Graphics but more than that I learned about the great visual designers like Saul Bass and Paula Scher.  Shortly before graduation, I joined the media industry as a designer and animator for news and sports television shows at Univision Network.

 In 2010 my life took another turn and I migrated to Israel where  I joined a software company developing tools for the creation of graphics called Vizrt. Which is used by the major broadcasters around the world such as CNN, FOX News, BBC, Sky News, to name a few (my mom proudly watched just to see my work) where I was the Head of Product Management and Design. 

Since 2017 I have been working as a consultant for the media industry traveling around the world providing services to different broadcasters in the creation of graphics, live data integration, and custom software solutions for projects such as elections, live sporting events, etc. (www.lkfgx.tv)

How you founded or joined this company?

Like many other companies, I started Kamwise out of the bizarre situation life puts us in. When COVID-19 started, I was in Washington DC delivering a project for the US Primary Elections, and all the borders around the world were suddenly shut. Everyone went into lockdown, preventing me from returning home. I had to find a place to stay in DC for what I thought would be 3-6 weeks but ended up lasting around 9 months. (Thank goodness for all the food delivery apps cause I don’t like to cook!) 

My work before COVID was primarily something that required constant travel to meet with customers, deliver projects or work on live TV events. Like everyone else, it rapidly morphed into video conferences, and  I quickly started struggling with how impersonal and disengaging those calls became once I started to share my screen to present the projects. I swear I once saw  someone from my client’s team falling asleep and then I remembered the term “death by PowerPoint.”

 Right there, I set out to find better solutions to keep my clients engaged through my presentations. Having a background in television graphics, I knew the golden rule in newscasts to keep audiences engaged is never to lose sight of the face of the person who is talking to you.  So I wanted to find something to keep my webcam next to my presentation when screen sharing, similar to how content is presented in a live TV show. To my surprise, I could not find a single tool that did what I wanted except for professional tools used in streaming and live TV production. So, I decided to build a very simple tool where I could have my webcam next to my PowerPoint slides. After hosting my first presentations, and seeing the reaction of the attendees and how effective it was in keeping their attention, I knew I was into something. I realized that if I combined many of the concepts and technologies used in today’s television production and made it accessible and easy to use for anyone hosting online presentations, virtual/hybrid events, or giving online training and classes, I could surely benefit from such a tool!  That’s when I decided to develop Samwise.

How does your company innovate?

All of Kamwise revolves around one idea; You cannot lose face-to-face interaction with your audience, even in this online era. All we build services around this idea. We help our users host more professional, engaging presentations and events with four main components that make us very unique.

  1. Having visual contact with the host is the holy grail to keeping the attention of your “viewers,” and this is why with Kamwise, you can keep your webcam next to your presentation whether you are screen sharing a pdf file or jumping to a youtube video next, your viewers will never lose sight of you.
  2. Content playlists: Most of the time, when screen sharing, we scramble through all the different screens, files, tabs, and whatnot. Each time disengaging our audience. With Kamwise, you can load any type of content (pdf, youtube video, website, google slide, and much more) into one place. So you’re only worried is to click on the next slide without having to scramble all over your computer. (sometimes revealing unwanted content!) 
  3. Branding and Company Image are key. Samwise lets you set your brand, such as colors, logo, etc., in any video conferencing system that supports screen sharing, such as zoom, MS Teams, Google Meet, etc.
  4. Interactive Content: there are countless interactive platforms for polls, trivia, surveys, etc., in the market, and many online events organizers or online educators use them to give attendees the chance to feel part of the event. In Kamwise, you can use any online engagement platform and mix and match between them during your event giving your participants a single interactive link where organizers can enable what activity they should have access to at any given point.

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you Coping?

Our business, I believe, would not have started if it was not for the pandemic. With Kamwise, we are constantly trying to provide tools used by gigantic media networks to the average person. Solving real-life problems that everyone is currently experiencing when transitioning to an online working space. Utilizing proven concepts to make sure audiences on the other side of the screen are engaged and attentive to what you have to share.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Launching a new startup in the middle of a worldwide pandemic was for sure not an easy choice and full of daily lessons, from forming a team to managing people scattered around the world. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that wary times also come with full of opportunities, such as having no boundaries on where to find the best talent.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Most of the tools we use are part of Kamwise tools, and we try to use our own products in our daily work as much as possible. As for management skills managing remote teams has always been part of my work for the last 15 years due to my constant travels. During all that time, I’ve learned that as long as you maintain open communication with the team and everyone works towards common goals, the physical presence of a manager becomes secondary. Still, during all that time, my teams worked together in the same physical space, Now with Kamwise our team is more divided now having the team scattered in different countries and timezones have added a whole new level of management challenges that requires a more engagement to make sure everyone is aligned with the goals and targets and helping the team feel connected and a team regardless of the physical distance between them.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Currently, we don’t have a clear competitor, “Prezzi Video,” and a new app called “mmhmm”  for example, has some overlapping features, but their focus is a little different than ours. Competing apps focus on trying to replace PowerPoint by having the user create their presentations within their softwares. We want to stay open and provide a tool that lets them have an efficient storytelling workflow, let them create their presentations in the tool of their choice such as PowerPoint, pdf, google docs, canva, etc. rather than forcing users to create their content inside our software we still provide animated templates for those who wish to create some animated slides inside Kawmise but that is not our main feature like our competitors. We want to provide a tool that not only lets them use almost any document type or online presentation software but also lets them combine any online engagement platform such as Mentimeter, polls anywhere, google forms, cahoots, etc. as well as make sure their brand is always visible in their online presentations.

Your Final Thoughts:

With the increase of the use of video conferencing, breaking the barrier of the monitor between the host and attendees has become essential to maintain that personal connection with clients, co-workers, students, etc. something that was not a problem when in the same physical space and finding tools and methods that work will become essential to continue a productive virtual life.

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