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BeBirbal Aims to Make Social Video Sharing a Global Activity
by Startacus Admin
You are unlikely to know that the World Record for beer mats flipped is a rather spectacular 112 beer mats and was recorded in a Waterstones Bookshop in Nottingham UK in 2001.
Co-Founder of Startacus (Also the Journalist of this piece - not the World record holder) was in the pub last week. He achieved a massive 22 beer mat flips and so the scene was set for a rather fabulous challenge lasting 3 hours where said Co-Founder and his three friends flipped to their hearts content. A maximum 27 beer mats flipped later and all went home happy.
In a very convoluted way, this is a fab introduction to BeBirbal - the social video sharing App that is aiming to make social activities and challenges a global activity. Put simply - capture a 15 second video, share with your friends and ask them to add their own version. Imagine 100 beer mat challenges happening from London, Edinburgh to Bangladesh - the mind (and enjoyment levels) boggle.
With this (and the three hour beer mat challenge) still in Startacus’ mind, we set about challenging Olly Whittle, Founder of BeBirbal to explain all...
Olly, first up, give us your pitch! What is Bebirbal and who is it for?
BeBirbal is a social video sharing app. To give you an example of its use, Nike would start a group with a 15 second video of a Rory Mcllory golf shot and invite their audience to add their own video who try to beat his distance or replicate his swing. Think of the Ice Bucket Challenge where the charity ALS started the video chain and everyone contributed, in BeBirbal you could have seen everyone’s addition in one group.
In my mind the app will be predominantly used by young people under 25 who are accustomed to regularly using apps, social networks and producing and sharing content. More specifically we’re targeting 16-18 year olds but then that’s why we wanted to launch early; to discover who was using it most. Snapchat hadn’t anticipated their target audience until it got adopted and used mainly by schools, they were expecting an older market.
You launched just over a month ago - how have the first 5 weeks or so gone so far?
So the first few weeks have been very much a soft launch finding any problems and reasons that are limiting people watching or sharing videos. We did some testing before the soft launch but I wanted to have it submitted to the app store and get it launched for people to use, so I could talk about a live app to investors and even reasons like being accepted in Facebook’s startup program which you can only be part of if your app has been live for 1 month.
Who are your competitors within this space and what stands Bebirbal out from the crowd?
So the obvious examples are Instagram and Vine as they’re social micro video apps and also to a lesser extent, YouTube and Snapchat. BeBirbal has some key differences, the videos are manually grouped so that users can view everyone’s addition to a theme, whether it be a cover of a popular chart song or a sporting trick. Currently videos in our competitor’s apps are very scattered and there’s no flow from one related video to the next. Yes, hashtags are a grouping mechanism but i don’t feel this is the most effective form of engagement which is crucial to any social platform. Simple functions too like the way a video is edited in BeBirbal is unique to the app and gives it a great USP that separates it. Personally, I don't think you always have to be revolutionary in your USP’s, you just need to be good at what you do and solve small and often simple problems. Filters weren’t new when Instagram was released but it was a well designed and fast app which set it apart.
Tell us all about your career. How did you get actively involved in the startup scene?
The startup scene has always interested me, how people take ideas that came to them in the shower and are able to grow it into a huge business. Everything started from a small idea, the businesses and inventions and it’s often forgotten that people have put in hard graft to build huge corporations that we think have just appeared and been around forever.
I studied English Literature and History at university because i thought I’d be a published author as writing was what I loved most at the time. But as always things didn’t work out as I’d expected, publishing houses wanted you to have written volumes of books rather than one and the freelance writing I was doing at the time dried up when contractors saved money by taking articles from the internet.
It forced me to find a different route and by chance I was working part time for a company who had a poor web presence so i suggested they modernise their website and look into this new thing Facebook and Twitter that might become popular. It did become popular which seems crazy to think was ever in doubt and companies were asking my first client who had revamped their web presence and whether I could do it for them too. So it was funny how my first business SWARM Marketing grew quite accidentally but that’s often the way
I’ve been running SWARM for the last 5 years which has been helping clients with their social and mobile strategies and in the last year started releasing apps. I really enjoy mobile, my phone, the apps, the capabilities and the huge market which is still in its infancy. It was great building apps which people were using but early on I was only doing it on a very small scale. I wanted to build a bigger business focusing on a single app and at the time I noticed video was hugely growing as a trend, BeBirbal was the result of numerous factors which came together which I felt I couldn’t ignore so here we are!
What gets you out of bed in the morning? (Apart from the alarm clock!)
Wow interesting question! Interesting because for me it’s all about personal motivation when the alarm goes off, it’s cold and dark and all you want to do is hit snooze and your mind starts making excuses why you should sleep longer or not be in front of your desk as early as you normally do. You deserve it, you’re tired, it can wait, what difference will 1 hour make, I’ll work 1 hour later tonight- yes that all happened this morning!
But these things do matter, 1 hour does make a difference or the attitude of delaying your work day is what actually makes the difference. Yeah its hard every morning, you normally haven’t slept enough and your body is screaming out to sleep more but it’s game time!
I do get out of bed every morning because I want to build a company and because I want to be part of something amazing- not only what BeBirbal can be but also the opportunities and excitement spin offs from BeBirbal can create even if it fails. You just never know what might happen but it’s certain very little will happen if you’re not active. Right now as a startup founder things are tight with time and finances and to change that situation I need to get up, get to work and start making things happen. I would be so angry with myself if I got to my rocking chair as an old man and I thought that if only I’d done more or worked harder I could have accomplished more. I’d be a very grumpy man in that chair so I do what I can now to avoid that situation. I could go on and on about what gets me up because I go through the battle every day but I have to think of all the reasons that motivate me, people that motivate me who have accomplished so much and then once I’m up, the battles over and I’m ready to go.
Monitising Apps can be tough - especially at the start. How do you plan to monetise BeBirbal?
I’ve made a very conscious effort to separate BeBirbal from the typical Silicon valley startup where they pitch for huge sums of money without a monetising strategy, mostly because that scene I don't feel, exists in the UK. I just don't think I could walk into a pitch and say my plan is to get millions of downloads and monetise later, I’d be laughed out. So we’re going to serve video ads to our users which we want to be as subtle and indiscreet as possible to avoid effecting the user experience. From the research I’ve done, people don’t mind ads if they’re tailored and relevant. I think people shun ads as though you’ve sold out but lets face it, if they were hated so much then click throughs rates would be zero but that just isn’t the case. It is however important to be very careful how you present those ads. I’ve released 25 apps over the last year to get an understanding for the market of which they’ve all been monetised via ads and in-app purchases. I’ve learnt a lot from them: serve lots of ads and you’ll make money fast but lose your audience quickly, serve a few ads and you’ll make less money immediately but have a higher retention rate. If you’re building for the long term, keeping your audience happy is pretty important unsurprisingly!
In 140 characters or less - why should someone download and use BeBirbal?
To collaborate via videos in a fun and engaging manner with friends.
**Post the interview going live the guys from BeBirbal thought wise to upload their own Beer Mat Challenge Video, go take a look - http://www.bebirbal.com/video.html?id=1418993406&tid=1418993406and if you want to take up the challenge or add your own challenge simply1. download app 2. Hit link from your mobile 3. Add a video!
There you have it! Why not check out the app and let Startacus know how you're getting on!
Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.