Watch out Microsoft and Google, the Flying Pigs are ready to be outed
After six months of secrecy, Shaul Olmert finally reveals what his new startup Piggy actually does
For the last several months I have been writing here about what it’s like to launch a startup. Every column I wrote was followed up with many comments, with the chief question I got asked being “but what in the name of god are you developing?”
I explained before why I preferred not to address that question publicly, but today, with our product about to launch, I decided that it’s time for the Flying Pigs to come out of hiding. Are you ready? Great, so here’s a brief prologue before I go for it. Nearly 20 years ago, when I was working at MTV, I took part in a meeting at our offices with representatives of a company from Cupertino, California called Apple Computers. They told us that they were planning to sell movies and episodes of television shows on their digital platforms so people would be able to view them on their computer monitors. “And that’s not all!” added the Silicon Valley nerd who had flown all the way to New York to tell us about the upcoming revolution in the field of digital content consumption. “We believe that in the future people will even watch TV and movies on their mobile phones.”
Piggy CEO Shaul Olmert. Photo: Orel Cohen
We had no doubt that the man was out of his mind. The idea that anyone would choose (and even pay) to watch content on a tiny personal screen sounded ludicrous. Needless to say that he had the last laugh. In the years since, we have gotten used to using our phones for a wide variety of tasks that previously would have sounded inconceivable— shopping, transferring money, signing contracts— all actions that in the past were clearly restricted to our computers, have nearly completely transitioned to our phones.
However, there is one field in which the shift from computers to phones hasn’t taken place yet, and that’s document creation. Sure we can already write documents on our phones using platforms like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, but it is very inconvenient to do so. Even reading documents on your phone is cumbersome and awkward, never mind writing them. Meanwhile, however, there is a generation growing up who have had smartphones for as long as they can remember and use it for everything they do, even tasks that old folks such as myself prefer to wait with until I get home and can do them on my computer. They don’t like using computers (and in many places in the world simply don’t have access to a PC) but have become, courtesy of social media platforms, prolific and creative content producers.
When they are asked to write an essay for school, a resume document, or even a letter that’s longer than a WhatsApp message, they find themselves in unfamiliar territory and the content they produce tends to make them out to be lazy or superficial— two things they are definitely not.
It is for such people that my partner Ilan Leibovitch and I created Piggy (or as it’s formally known - “Flying Pigs”).
Piggy is a mobile application that will be launched in the next couple of months that allows each of us to easily and efficiently create documents on our phones. We believe that the existing content creation platforms do not suit the new generation of users. They still treat documents in terms of the old formats of text paragraphs that are meant to be printed, while the world has moved on to new and different modes of expression. They may still contain text, but can also feature video or audio, an image, an emoji, or even, heaven forbid, a meme or a gif.
The challenge we have taken is both difficult and exhilarating— enabling people to take the tools of expression that they employ so creatively to make content on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, and use them to create personal documents.
Our research revealed that nowadays teachers are willing to have students submit assignments in innovative formats if that’s what it takes for them to get them to put effort into school work. We also spoke to HR recruiters and discovered that when it comes to young employees, who often don’t have too much experience, allowing them to submit a resume document that let's them express themselves in a way that is more natural for them is far more effective than demanding they submit a dry and formal document that uses a format invented decades ago.
And it doesn’t stop there— our vision is that the folks known as Generation Z and the Alpha Generation (ages 10-30) will use our app for a wide range of use cases because it enables them to express themselves freely, without limiting them in terms of distribution. Piggy is not a social network and we have no desire to lock our users into a closed system, therefore any document that’s created on Piggy can be sent out via email, text message, Messenger, WhatsApp, or any other platform, and can be opened and viewed without the need to download the app, so that any Piggy user can derive value from it from day one, without having to wait for their friends, teachers, or employers to download the app too.
It requires a fair degree of audacity to challenge one of the most deeply entrenched processes in the computer world and believe that with our creativity and vision, we can play in the same court as giant corporations like Microsoft and Google. But that is precisely what a startup is supposed to do— dream big, dare, and believe that nothing is sacred.
We recruited a team of nine people who share our vision, and have the innovation, sophistication and courage to help us turn the vision into a product. Like I’ve written in this series of columns before, launching a startup is like embarking on a journey without knowing where it will lead. Perhaps our product will become the word processor of choice for the new generation, perhaps it will become the standard tool for creating a certain type of document, but not others— there is no way to tell. We love the product that’s beginning to take shape, and if we’ve learned anything during our decades in the industry, it is that when you develop something that is bold and innovative and attempts to solve a real existing problem that people face, there’s a real chance for it to break through and produce real change in the world.
Piggy doesn’t aspire to cure diseases or establish world peace, but when we think about the possibility for people to express themselves using all the tools that are at their disposal, or students being able to actually enjoy doing assignments, or talented people being able to present themselves to potential employers in a way that showcases their creative strengths instead of their lack of experience, we are filled with pride and a sense of purpose.
Unlike Microsoft and Google, we didn’t choose the term ‘Word’ or ‘Doc’ as our product’s name because we believe that Piggy will be much more than just a word processor. We strive to create a tool that will enable you to express your thoughts and feelings and generate conversation with people about your ideas and not just an image of you in a bikini or at the gym.
We are members of the Startup Nation, where people dare to dream and challenge established industries, believing that through technological innovation we can reinvent processes that others have consigned themselves with and no longer believe can be improved.
Starting now, there will be no more secrets between us. You now know what we’re working on and what we are aiming towards and we thank you for accompanying us on our special journey.