Weev is a new social video app that ‘talks back’.
Ask a question, make a statement, or start an idea by taking a quick video, which people from all over the world can reply to with their own quick videos.
I talked to the CEO of Weev, Andrew Sachs about the app, how it’s different from the social video competition and his plans for future growth.
Please describe what the company does…
Weev is a conversation. It is a social video app that allows users to pose a question, sparking responses from a community of users in the form of ongoing video threads. People from around the world use Weev to meet, engage, and form deep connections and tight-knit communities.
What problems does it solve?
In a social media world where trolls hide behind the mask of anonymity and context is diluted by text, Weev’s focus on face-to-face video discussion changes the tone of the dialogue.
Our content is as diverse as our international audience. Threads range from simple and sweet to original and provocative. Many tend to be humorous and collaborative. During conversations, Weev’s users are uniformly respectful towards other users. The lack of anonymity seems to spark social grace within the community.
This is not to say that members do not disagree; at times they do so with great passion, but the players upon this stage are redefining the rules of social engagement and are creating richer, deeper experiences.
What are your goals?
Our ambition is to create the most authentic social network. In the process, we believe that Weev can transform not just the way we communicate but the very character of the conversation.
Is this a crowded market?
Yes, social video is a crowded marketplace and getting busier every day. This is why, early in the process, we decided to focus on conversation.
It’s not just a niche of significance; it’s a significant opportunity. The rapid pace of technological improvement to mobile phones (chips, cameras, memory) are just starting to unlock the power of video. Weev is poised for real growth as new standards in phones unleash the power of video-driven conversation.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Our biggest challenges have been context and growth.
With regards to context, it’s difficult to understand Weev until you come into Weev. To the uninitiated, short videos strung together sounds like “Vine+1” but Weev is very different. In Vine you can drop some amazing content, sit back and collect the likes. It’s great fun. Weev, on the other hand, demands engagement and pays far bigger dividends.
Stringing together video into contextual strings enables so much more engagement. Everyday, our users are pushing the boundaries of what we imagined for Weev. They host open bars that progress to the wee hours, produce morning shows, conduct long-form celebrity style interviews, reveal remarkably intimate details about themselves, even date, all in a public forum.
It’s nothing like Vine; I bet anyone who goes into Weev after reading this article will be surprised by what they see.
Another question we have to consider is how can we describe to the uninitiated the depths of a community, which is actively being defined by the community?
They get into passionate arguments about the issues. They define the rules of engagement. When is it okay to interrupt a thread that is meant to be an art piece? Is cursing legitimate, and if so, what about when kids are present? How do we define the difference between comedy and rudeness? What happens when cultures merge?
It’s amazing stuff to see. They want us to be their moderator, but that is not scalable. It’s up to the community to figure it out, and that will be a never-ending challenge. After all, our global society is rapidly evolving and in some ways Weev has picked up the social experiment from where the Brothers Grimm left off.
Growth is our other major challenge. We are still building out our core proposition. Our roadmap is clear, but we are building around an engaged and passionate community of early adopters. There is nothing more frightening than pushing an update to an outspoken community that can use your app to tell you exactly what they think about that update. Get something wrong, and look out!
So far, we have been fortunate. When we released version 2.5, we implemented a big piece of the core infrastructure and users became ravenous, engaging in Weevs with hundreds of replies as Weevs grew into real-time conversations. This presented a huge problem with how to process, encode, and deliver thousands of videos to users in real-time. We had to create a much smarter downloading and display logic.
Basically, we are learning from our users as we build out the core proposition. It’s akin to building a house and having the owners move in before the framing is even up. To accommodate this, we are doing smaller pushes more frequently. This enables us to learn, adapt and fix small issues before they become major bugs.
We have not yet implemented the social hooks (social gamification if you will) that will drive real growth. We had to build out the core proposition and squash the bugs that bedevilled early versions. Weev is entirely video-based, so it contains a LOT of videos, which all need to be played on command.
Early on, the iPhone processors simply couldn’t handle all of the video players, feeds and navigation (Weev is currently on iOS, with an Android version coming soon). A user could have the home feed open and full of Weevs, but also have a certain user’s feed open and full of Weevs, a search result feed open and full of Weevs and the news feed open and full of Weevs. Early users experienced a lot of crashes, not from the app, but from the phone itself. That’s been solved and now we are poised for real growth
Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?
One year: 250,000+ Monthly Average Weever’s (MAW’s) and improving upon our 45 minutes plus daily average time on app statistics. It’s a big hairy goal, but with the proper partners and dogged focus we should be blowing past that marker by the time the calendar resets.
Three years: executing our brand level enterprise model.
Five years: partnership proliferation. Weev has the ability to take commenting and turn it into an authentic conversation for websites and apps in and across sectors. From news to reviews and shopping, Weev has the potential to provide tailored, authentic, contextual feedback that can bring commenting into the modern era. That’s where I would like it to be, because that’s how we’ll know that we have altered the conversation for the better.
How will you make money?
The obvious is advertising, but we need not be dependent upon it. We already have extremely active community members who are begging for the kinds of additional services that can be bundled into a WeevPro version, for which they would willingly pay a reasonable monthly fee or purchase on a one-time basis.
We also have the ability to quickly generate and export high quality, user generated video that is extremely valuable to brands. That brands can engage in a true dialogue with their audiences, and then delve deep into the metrics, represents an even bigger opportunity.
Who is in your team?
Andrew Sachs – Co-Founder and CEO
Stephen Moyer – Co-Founder
Law Casey – The Chief Architect
Plus a dedicated team of top developers, database engineers, and project managers
Other than your own, what are your favourite websites, apps or tools?
Meerkat: it is the inverse of Weev. I would love to find a way to collaborate.
Evernote: keeps me organised.
UberConference: I love this. Conferences actually start on time because it calls participants at the appointed hour.
Facebook: it all but invented the social category.
Beats: music drives my day.