Startup Story – Introducing NIUME
Tell us what your business does?Niume is an interest-based social network that is born out of the need for a quality driven social network in which users are motivated to share high quality content and to pursue their passions. So how does Niume work? Quite simply, it is formed by a collection of communities called circles. A circle is a group of people that shares a common passion, whatever that may be. A circle becomes a natural interest-based community in which people who share an interest or passion can come together and opinion leaders are able to emerge and raise their influence based on the quality of their contributions.
The consequences of these new dynamics of interaction are truly exciting. Users in Niume are able to manage all of their interests from one place and to always get a relevant feed of information that follows from what they are passionate about. Not only so, but through their circles they can instantly connect and interact with new people who share a passion for what they love, and through the feedback they receive be constantly motivated to share quality content. Check us out at: http://www.niume.com and for our promotional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ktznZMPVO4
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The core idea about Niume was developed from an intense conversation between co-founder Francesco Facca and myself (Daniel Gennaoui) 2 years ago, in the middle of our first year mathematics exams back in London. With our brains immersed in numbers, we found ourselves having a conversation about social interaction, and its portrayal on social networks. We had two realisations that would become the basis for Niume. First, we realised people react to their audience, and will modify the content and form in which they share their ideas depending on who receives them. Second, people seek recognition and growth from their contributions. Combining these two (on a napkin on the coffee store) we developed our idea for circles of interest, and very quickly the idea took over our entire mind.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
It was never my intention to become an entrepreneur. I have always, however, admired the great innovators in the technology world, starting from Thomas Watson with IBM, thorugh to Steve Jobs with Apple, and finally with Larry Page and Sergey Brin with Google. It was this fascination and respect towards technology and the immense effect it has in our everyday life that pushed me towards building my own online platform. It is undoubtedly the most efficient medium to cause a great and positive effect in the way people interact.
What planning did you do before you started up?
We launched our Open Beta version of the website on late November 2013 with an MVP. To the date we have 2500 members, 400 circles of interests and 6000 posts. We are averaging 8000 visits a month, with an average duration time of close to 10 minutes, and around 700 weekly unique visitors . We have used these last 5 months as an experimentation ground for our core concept, fully comprehending what features Niumers like the most. Based on their feedback, we are now focusing on launching a new, improved version of the site that we will roll out at the end of May, together with a native iOS and Android application. The rollout of new website and mobile application will coincide with the completion of our degree and master programmes after which we will be able to fully commit to Niume. We have also secured a collaboration with a respected London-based data-mining and media company that will help us in our monetization efforts as well as in spreading our message to the perfect people for our platform.
Which entrepreneurs do you admire?
The person I would like to hear from is Evan Williams, founder of Blogger, Twitter and Medium. I would like to learn from his experiences for the following reasons: First, his resilience and perseverence. Having dropped out of college he worked for a number of technology companies and start-ups, and started a business, with family financing, that failed. In spite of that he persisted, moved to California and started Blogger which he eventually sold to Google (coining the term "blog" along the way). Thus he learned from his mistakes and got back into the saddle in an even stronger way. Second, He has revolutionized the internet from three different perspectives : blogging, tweeting ( a means to fast access to information around the world) and, now Medium, which is dramatically changing the way people share deep, meaningful posts about anything they like on a collaborative basis. Third, Since my company, Niume, is an interest-based social network, I am particularly keen to learn from his deep knowledge of why and how people use the internet and how to shape platforms to match those needs and likes.
What challenges have you faced & how have you overcome them?
As entrepreneurs we understand that an idea is nothing more than that until you implement it. And if it is to be a successful implementation you need a great team of passionate people behind it. That is why, to the date, our most significant challenge and accomplishment has been to put together a group with an outstanding potential and talent. Every single member of the Niume team has joined the project out of love for the idea, and has shown an outstanding enthusiasm to be part of this from the beginning. To count with a team of professionals that believes in your concept so much that they are willing to commit their careers to it is undoubtedly what we are most proud of. Another big challenge we have faced has been combining our university studies with Niume. We are all in our final year, and finding a healthy balance has been a complicated challenge to overcome. To face this situation we have used this final academic year as an experimentation phase for our concept. We have followed a strategy of pushing new features constantly to fully understand what we want Niume to become and what it requires to be an incredible platform. Thankfully, word of mouth has allowed us to successfully reach a big pool of users, whose feedback has been invaluable. We are now in a position where we have a solid knowledge of our user profile and are able to adjust our platform based on all of the usage and activity we have had.
How have you promoted your business?
We have small marketing teams assembled in London in Dublin which have focused primarily on attracting student users. We had a pretty successful campaign at King’s College in London which we are currently in the process of replicating at DCU.
Where do you see your business in 3 years?
Our ultimate goal is to become the most interesting place of the internet; a platform synonymous with high quality, engaging content. Essentially, we want to revolutionize the way people interact on social media. Right now, we feel as though most social media platforms encourage narcissistic behaviour that prevents people from interacting based on common interests. Rather than engaging with other like-minded individuals, people are too focused on portraying themselves in the most positive light. We want to change that by offering them a platform that allows them to produce quality content while meeting others with common passions. Of course, we recognize how ambitious these goals are and believe it may take over 3 years to realize them. Even the most successful companies like LinkedIn, which launched in 2004 and Twitter, which launched in 2006 took more than 3 years to become the revolutionary platforms they have become today.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Persistence is key. Remember stay focused and never compromise the original vision. It is very easy to shift or tweak your idea to something that may attract more investment in the short term but this can come at a big price in the long term.