Life is full of decisions. Do you want a cheeseburger or the taco? How about wearing Jordans or a pair of Converse? Which video was funnier? There are a gazillion questions we are asking ourselves. So who better to help you out then your friends and family? That’s where Bedloo comes in. Bedloo is a social media voting platform for those who want to find the right answer in life. Bedloo has one of the most visually appealing ways to ask questions. If voting for politics were this appealing, there would be a higher voter turnout. TechZulu catches up with one of the co-founders of Bedloo, Vincent Plummer, and talks to us about social media, startups, and Bedloo.
TechZulu: Why call Bedloo, Bedloo?
Vince Plummer: Let me talk a little about our background of who we are first. We are all coming from a background in entertainment. I’m coming from a music background. Todd is coming from a video editing background. We are power users and we are constantly trying to redefine platforms we are frustrated with. That is how Todd and I met, from all the talk of using platforms that frustrates us. Daron on the other hand, met Todd on a video project.
Bedloo came from a dream Daron had. Daron was a film maker back then and one night he had a dream. The dream was about Daron making a documentary and trying to figure out a name for his film. The film was all set, but he was stuck between two titles. Finally a film intern comes in and says put it out on Bedloo. Bedloo? What is that? The film intern spelled it out for him and that’s when he woke up. Daron called his lawyer to found out if Bedloo was still available. No one has registered Bedloo and Daron immediately registered for it. He went to Todd and they tried to tackle the idea of the “two-choice question”. The project has been on the back-burner for around two years, but they finally decided to start up a website.
Once they brought me on board, I told them Bedloo needs to go mobile. We started to work on the mobile site and I had an idea of Bedloo being kind of like an Instagram for voting.
What is Bedloo all about?
VP: Bedloo is a two-choice question application you can ask your family or friends to help you with the decision-making process. What makes it unique is that you add photos, videos, and music to the question and it’s all synced up with all your social media accounts. We are not trying to beat Facebook or Twitter; we are trying to be an accessory to their system. We are trying to integrate with them. That’s it. We want to step into the voting space and we want to be the premier brand when it comes to voting.
VP: Not yet. The thought behind that is, when you first launch a first version of something, instead of dual platforming, we thought we would build a prototype first on the iOS. We can make all the mistakes on the first app and then we can have a working model. Finally when the Android version is ready to launch the Bedloo will be bug-free app. It’s kind of like a lean principle. If we released Bedloo on both platforms, it’s double the mistakes we would have to fix. We wanted to build a set up to be as responsive and create the same experience you would have on both your mobile devices and on your native browser. The iOS version has a few more features, but other than that, you will experience the same Bedloo on your computer as you would on your phone.
The Android app is still in the works. We are still making some tweaks and adjustments. I can’t say when the Android version will be out yet.
Since Bedloo is a social media voting platform. Where do you see social media is heading?
VP: I think we live in a day in age where people are starting to communicate in pictures. Blogs are getting re-blogged, Instagram being what it is and Vine being six-second videos. We are inundated with media and we are all developing this weird “ADD”. Things that are visually appealing and don’t have a lot of words is the new trend. When we were building Bedloo, we wanted to keep things simple by leaving the voting at two choices and keep it visually engaging. Things that are really simple and visually compelling are the new trends.
Society now is a fast-paced ADD-like environment where people constantly need to be connected. Do you see that as a problem?
VP: Put it like this. If I have 20 tabs open on my computer. Am I going to go through all of them? Maybe. I want to. But I’m going to try to go through as many as possible. The tabs I get through will be the ones with shorter content. I got to engage with it for a short-time and got the gist of it. Do I see it as a problem? Maybe. Reading a blog post and reading a book are two different things. It just depends on how, what, when, and why. I still hope people take time to read books. But it’s also interesting on how people can engage with a large amount of content anywhere.
Why do you still see an audience, especially in social media, which still wants to vote?
VP: Everybody wants to be heard. Since there is so much noise, it’s hard to cut through the clutter. So, everyone wants to vote and feel like they are part of a decision. Think about it like this…LeBron James comes out and asks you which pairs of shoes he should wear to the game. It’s a simple thing to take part in. It’s just enough to make people feel that they were the reason why LeBron chose the pairs of shoes or not. We just made a fun, more visually compelling way to vote.
We are going to be tied to social media, no matter what. People’s responses to things are everywhere. There are Twitter responses in news casts, you can respond with certain hash tags, and be part of the conversation. Whether it be voting or not, people just want to be a part of it. People want to be a part of a tribe; even it’s just for a moment. That’s why hashtags are so interesting. I can participate on any conversation passively or actively. Whether or not I am going to follow certain people, it’s like a weird way to have friendships. It’s also a weird way to argue and debate. People have these conversations all the time. It adds little momentary bits of meaning in our lives and then we move on. That’s what’s great about it. When you add voting to the equation, it’s just a simple way to gather information.
What other technology can change the future of social media?
VP: Whether it be the Google Glass or the new smart-watch, it’s still going to be the same thing. I feel the platform doesn’t matter when using social media. Social media is adapting and changing because they are trying to figure out the best user experience. At the end of the day, I’m still communicating. I don’t know what is going to be the new thing, but I would like to think that Bedloo will be a part of that conversation.
Google Glass for example, I don’t think they have concept fully developed right now. I think it’s going to take a while for people to get used to it. It will feel like people are being policed and they will reject it. But it won’t go away; Google Glass will be back at some point. A group will revive it and it will become a fad and have 20 different iterations of the thing.
Social media is kind of the same thing. You want quick access to all of the information. Got a problem? Solve it with an app. The social media aspect of it, share the information with your friends or to the public. Those platforms are constantly changing. I think it’s a good thing. The new generation will grow up and have something totally different.
Here’s an interesting story. When we were launching Bedloo at New York, we had a band show up called Mindless Behavior. They are similar to One Direction and huge with the teenage girls from the ages of 13-17. We had about a 100 of teeny-bopper girls in front of our hotel and trying to find out where this band was. In a matter of minutes, all these girls had Bedloo accounts and they were using Bedloo instantly. It was amazing to see this young generation start using Bedloo without a problem.
The reason why I mention that is, that age range, they have no barriers. They have no trouble adapting to different social media platforms. They are willing to try new technology and that’s what you want.
VP: I think our biggest headache would be how fast the internet is moving. How fast mobile is changing. For example, iOS 7 just came out and you have to rethink your design to adapt to the platform. That’s a lot of man hours we need to spend trying to integrate with social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and all the others while they are constantly changing. You have a limited amount of resources. You try to keep up with all these changes and it’s tough to do. You need to test it and it starts to become expensive.
Todd and I both know code. We know enough to be dangerous, but not enough to compete with the big boys. But we can create mockups all day and whatnot, but we aren’t coders. Usually the way the whole financial structure is setup to get into incubator programs and stuff like that, they want business minded people. They also want someone who has failed once before, because it shows you have a proven track record of trying something and failing. Trying to find someone to code is a challenge. You want to find someone who can code really well. If you get them at an early stage, you are kind of married to them. We went through the whole process backwards. Daron is our chief angel investor and he didn’t code. There are ways to do things, but we did it in a completely different way. We came from an entertainment background and not a typical tech startup background. We were finding out things the hard way pretty much every step of the way.
What were the fun times?
VP: The launch parties! Honestly, what’s fun is when we got a conference call with someone really important. We have been meeting with a lot of entertainment companies and people and the experience has been great. We are able to meet them because of Bedloo. What’s also exciting is building a tool for artists to use. I’m a musician and I think every day about how I would utilize this tool. How would I engage my fans, friends, and followers to get them involved with my decision making? That’s exciting when you see your product come to life. It’s been a really weird ride. I think because we are in entertainment and we have all these connections that made a bigger splash.
What’s the next step for Bedloo?
VP: We are definitely trying to step into the space where we will be the main brand for voting. I can tell you, we got some powerful strategic partners. We are also trying to work on our Bedloo widget to imbed for every website.
How hard was it to convince the entertainment business to work with you?
VP: One conversation leads to another. At first, you’re juggling conversations. We didn’t have to sell the concept very hard, because people got what Bedloo was about quickly. They knew that we wanted to work with them.
Is this your first startup?
VP: It is my first tech startup. I was in a bunch of different bands and ran those bands. I learned how to creatively make money in those bands. It’s kind of similar in a weird way. Yes, this is my first tech startup, but all three of us are entrepreneurs. So it’s like we have been working on the same thing in different ways.
VP: We were very lucky to have a founder who was able to finance this from the beginning. Daron was able to bring this to life and we were able to test a lot of things and that’s a powerful thing. The biggest thing I have learned is the power of consultants. The person who knows how to leverage other people’s networks and the ability to have them walk you through the front door to powerful people. It’s an unbelievable experience to talk to some powerful people. How do you get that meeting? It’s through the power of consultants who have connections. Otherwise, you are an act amongst acts that is trying to startup in a sea of “Who cares?”
LA is your homebase? What’s so great about LA to startup?
VP: All three of us live out here. That’s one thing. Silicon Beach is a great startup community. There are a lot of really great organizations who are doing great things with startups. It’s sunny and 72 degrees. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun to go to Denver and New York. But, we live here and the entertainment business is huge in LA.
What is the future of the startup community here in LA?
VP: Some people call it a bubble. But I think more incubators are going to pop up. You are going to have all these startups and you are going to have people who have sold their companies that still want to be in the community simply because they like to obsessively build things. Entrepreneurial spirit is a fun spirit. Incubators and individuals with money, just want to pepper and spray it into all these businesses. When it comes to startups…who knows? I hear about things starting-up all the time that do things in unique and interesting ways. Basically, wherever there is a problem, there is an ability for disruption. Anytime you can bridge communication, where it’s difficult to communicate, there is an opportunity. There are all new platforms coming out and new technology is coming out for clothing as well. Our clothes are going to start to be more interesting with bio data and technological stuff attached. Bigger, better, faster, stronger I guess.
Nice Daft Punk reference.
Thanks Vince for your time.