Does the world need another social discovery app? That was my first question to Ben Broca, founder of Now, a service offering a real-time glimpse in to what is happening around you right now through Instagram photos and Twitter Vines. Tackling the real-time has been a challenge on many levels – density, user commitment, curation, relevancy – you name it this has become a very complex problem to solve for everyone that has tried, from Facebook to Yelp to Foursquare to Banjo and LocalMind. With these challenges comes the potential for huge reward and there is enough of that reward to share with many companies offering many different approaches.
Ben is a first-time entrepreneur (another GREAT example of how the mobile ecosystem is inspiring and democratizing entrepreneurship) who approaches things from an engineering mindset that brings with it a linear approach to solving problems (as you’d expect). If one hypothesis doesn’t work, change the parameters and try again. This type of experimentation is crucial to moving any business forward – let alone a mobile one. The ability to distance yourself from the work you are doing in order to assess its ability to succeed is a trait sometimes lacking in today’s entrepreneur – they tend to fall in love with an idea and follow it to success (sometimes) or death (often).
The problem Ben is tackling is huge but his linear approach means he moves quickly, shifting the business model and plans as needed. One great example he details in this episode is when he realized the dream to run a highly profitable consumer company needed much more time to come to fruition so he started looking at other ways he could immediately generate revenue. He also details his process for creating the “perfect” experience for his product and then applying his engineering skills to help it scale.
Some of the greatest ideas and inspirations come from first-time entrepreneurs who see things clearly because they don’t carry the baggage of their previous battle. There are valuable lessons to be learned from Ben’s experiences for you, the seasoned grizzled entrepreneurial veteran, and for you, the first-time adventurer. More than the lessons is the realization that there is an incredible opportunity out there waiting to be seized and all it takes is the right mindset to get things moving.
Here is a quick reference of what we covered in the show. Click on the link and the video will take you to that clip
1. What is Now 2:25
2. Why is your online persona Ben Cera and your real name is Ben Broca 4:00
3. Does the world NEED another social discovery tool? Why you guys? 7:00
4. Why is your approach different? 9:00
5. Why start by trying to capture events and then move back to venues 11:11
6. How do you discover things that are trending now 16:10
7. What does it mean to “build the perfect experience”? 17:05
8. How did you build your perfect experience? 19:00
9. What was the reaction from your users as you scaled and lessoned the “perfect experience”? 21:20
10. Why focus on B2B instead of B2C? 24:30
11. How did you decide to move from B2C to B2B? 27:03
12. What worked for your app to help increase downloads? 28:40
13. When did you realize the data you were collecting could be the business? 30:37
14. What is your revenue path? 35:38
15. What made you start thinking about generating revenue? 35:50
16. How were you featured 3 times by Apple? 37:25
17. What was the impact on your business of being featured by Apple each time 40:20
18. Do you notice an “Apple” lethargy? Why are you fed up with apps? 41:20
19. Did the features you added to each new version of the product have an impact on downloads when you were featured by Apple? 44:53
20. How did you bring Twitter Vine videos into your product without an API? 46:25
21. Ben’s launch and product strategy in a nutshell 50:13
22. What features did you remove between version 2 and 3? 50:55
23. What are Now’s metrics for success? 52:55
24. Where did the media coverage work to help your company grow? 54:13
25. Why is the Instagram API undervalued? 57:47
About Ben Broca
Ben Broca is the Founder and CEO of Now, that he launched in May 2012. Ben is from Paris and move to New York 5 years ago to study engineering at Columbia University. He loves exploring cities and wanted the perfect tool to find out about the best spots. Before founding Now, Ben worked in Banking for a couple of years.