Executive InterviewsLatest

Meet Warren Leow – INMAGINE – Making Design Smarter, Faster & Easier

Today we have selected Warren Leow to interview. He is CEO at INMAGINE.

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

Personally, I’m okay, and the team is all well as we have the systems and processes in place. As long as trust,  teamwork, and good communication, we’ve managed to overcome it and come out of it stronger. Navigating through the pandemic wasn’t easy, but luckily, most of the staff are already equipped to be working from home with broadband access, ready devices, and cloud access.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I graduated in accounting from the London School of Economics and have a background in commodities trading, management consulting, product development, and startup ecosystem building. 

Previously, I have led Designs.ai, Designs.net, Stockunlimited.com, TheHungryJpeg.com, and Craftbundles.com, besides helping drive strategic partnerships and products at the group level for Inmagine Group.

Now, I am the Group CEO of Inmagine Group, where I lead global businesses, including 123RF, Pixlr, and Designs.ai. Inmagine is an ecosystem that makes content creation accessible to everyone via SMARTER, FASTER, EASIER tools, powered by A.I. Our platforms across content, SaaS, and community are used by tens of millions of content creators and marketers monthly.INMAGINE

Could you briefly describe Inmagine and its development?

Inmagine was founded in 2000 and evolved from a digital stock photo library to a complete creative ecosystem driven by creativity, technology, and entrepreneurship. We were the first company in Asia to offer this service. We have been 100% bootstrapped from the very beginning. We are forging a future where design is within reach for everyone. 

We have continuously looked for ways to expand our offerings in line with our mission to make design easy and accessible for everyone. To simplify the creative process for all levels of users, i.e., freelancers, marketers, influencers, and business owners, we have launched the following SaaS products intending to make design smarter, faster, and easier.

123RF – An intuitive image content library with videos, photos, illustrations.

Pixlr – A modern photo editing suite offering professional editing capabilities with Pixlr X and E, one-click, batch-processing background removal with Pixlr BG Remover and Pixlr M, a free mobile app-based editor. One-click is all it takes to get the job done, replacing tasks that would usually require some person-hours and expertise in the past.

Designs.ai – Instant content creation platform with various creative tools powered by A.I… An example is an AI-powered Videomaker, which makes video production achievable within 2 minutes!

Inmagine Brain – AI-Powered creative solutions for businesses looking to optimize and take their products and services to the next level.

Inmagine also includes a variety of smaller brands such as The Hungry JPEGVectrLoveSVGCraft Bundles, and SlidesTheme.

How does your company innovate?

We are proud to say that INMAGINE is one of the largest creative ecosystems globally with 3 core products, including 123RF, Pixlr, and Designs.ai. Adopting AI helps in many ways, from search to editing to the finishing artwork. It helps speed up the whole process, and more focus can be placed on creativity. Better search results, enhancements and autosuggestions, and better relevance in design and content must be churned out by the A.I. tools.

By merging technology and creativity, we are forging a future where design is within reach for everyone. That basically means anyone could #designyourstory with the tools and create content that we are offering. 

Our mission is to make design smarter, faster, and easier for everyone using artificial intelligence and data analytics to simplify the creative process.

With Inmagine’s proprietary AI Brain, no designer will have to start designing from a blank canvas, again. Instead, they can expect to gain smarter, faster, and easier creative breakthroughs once unimaginable – with various easy-to-use AI-powered tools. 

Our Brain’s machine learning predictive recommendation engine is built to deliver accurate, recommended suggestions based on essential criteria such as color, font, content, and style preferences entered into the brief. It generates relevant design suggestions that can be used as the final design on its own, if not as the groundwork for further creative refinement by the designer.

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

The recent pandemic is the biggest challenge yet, with businesses worldwide still learning to cope with its adversities. INMAGINE is no exception. Since Covid-19 hit the Malaysian shores, INMAGINE has been on the ball, pulling all stops to keep the business afloat. 

We continue to invest in our products. We prepared our staff to sell virtually. We check in with our employees more often than before, ensuring that everyone’s safe and have what they need to carry out their tasks. We also encourage over-communication to avoid miscommunication. Since the crisis, the Company has grown even stronger as a team, reinforcing the DNA of Togetherness that the Company had set forth since day 1. 

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

Yes, given the company has been operating in a competitive space for more than 20 years, tech is not a luxury but a must to enable continuous improvements. We changed our strategy, technology solutions, and vendors many times to remain relevant for opportunities in the market. Now, we are investing massively into AI.

The art of story-telling is important in growing any successful business. Besides capturing your audience’s attention with visually appealing and relevant visuals, good photos and consistent imagery can also help convey the right message for your business and form a desirable personality around your brand, thus strengthening your brand presence and value among your audience.

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

The right project management and communication tools played a big role in helping to transition well into working remotely. We utilize a wide array of communications, messaging apps, video conference platforms, design prototyping, and so on. We adopt open communication channels.

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

Our competitors range from Shutterstock, Getty Images,  Adobe, Canva, many of which are very respectable companies.

Throughout this 20-year track record, we have connected with hundreds of creatives, marketing departments, and media giants and have learned a great deal about their pain points. We continue to pivot and disrupt ourselves, not something we like to do, but we must. Otherwise, we will not stay relevant to offer the most up-to-date services to our customers.

We want to help our clients create content smarter, faster, and easier. Thus, from all the lessons and resources gained across the years, we are using data, machine learning, and A.I. will help to make work more efficient and will greatly boost team productivity.

Our market-leading A.I. Inmagine brain research allows us to blend cutting-edge image and machine vision technology into our core products. We are in the process of also developing many more A.I.-driven tools to simplify, automate and assist the creative journey.

Essentially, we are helping users automate basic design work to focus on the creative process that yields higher value. By leveraging data and technology along with our strengths in content, media, and marketing, our value proposition is delivered and powered by seamless integration throughout our creative ecosystem.

In SEA, the market for stock and creative software will grow at an aggressive pace. Adobe forecasts the global market to be $30-40b a year, and we believe the Asia Pacific will eventually become on behalf of the market.

Competing against much more capitalized companies such as Adobe is definitely a challenge, but we have a strong execution track even with our bootstrapped resources. We are confident that we have the upside to provide an end-to-end solution to our clients for us to stay ahead of the game in the creative industry by continuously upgrading and incorporating AI features. 

Your Final Thoughts

In the coming years, we plan to grow, learn, and continuously improve our products according to consumer feedback. We will also expand the portfolio of our AI products in the creative design ecosystem by materializing our machine learning & AI research results while also continuously carrying out research to improve the AI features in our current SaaS offerings. 

We believe AI-driven businesses will be the key business unit as we move forward. We’ll be moving more into the SaaS space to enable content creation using AI to make things Smarter, Faster, Easier, and Cheaper. 

We want to make content creation much more manageable for the designer, enabling them to achieve bigger creative goals in the shortest time like never before. With the help of AI/ML, every designer will be able to design content with less effort and cost while also boosting their creative potential to a whole new level.

We are now working on increasing tool integration and improving AI capabilities across all levels in our products. Our goal is to create an all-in-one creative platform that can cater to every user’s needs. 

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