Based in Columbus, Ohio and community management in Washington, D.C, Huddlewoo a live video platform set to launch early 2013 to give people the ability to access extraordinary people for one-on-one conversations and mentoring.
We caught up with the CEO William Zell.
What do you do and Why?
We are a platform that facilitates the most important conversations of people’s lives! Technology has given us the ability to connect with others like never before, but personal access still remains uncommon.
If I want a conversation with my favorite author, but am not personally connected to him, how would I ever have access to him? The offline solution includes travel, lodging, fuel, food and a whole lot of time.
Our online solution gives every user the ability to set time availability and a value on their time, and anyone who wants to access them for a live video conversation simply chooses an available time and pays the value of that time, and voila, personal access.
Who are you targeting specifically?
Is the world too big of a target? :) Our focus is providing anyone who is active online already with the ability to leverage their existing social networks for monetized one-on-one conversations. For instance, a blogger who has 10,000 followers can easily make themselves available on Huddlewoo for a live video conversation, and promote that access to their followers. This will give the followers an amazing opportunity to actually have a live conversation with their favorite blogger! The blogger can do all of this while monetizing their time.
How does it work?
Users create a profile for free and control their availability and huddle rate from a dashboard. From there the user promotes their access to their social networks through our easy social sharing, and others can come to their public profile and request a huddle. The calendar, payment and live-video are all facilitated through our platform.
There are many features we will be rolling out over the next year, but in simplicity, it will be a way for people to have conversations with those it otherwise would be difficult to get access to. This is ideal for bloggers, speakers, authors and any extraordinary person that has an online following, to be able to engage that following in a new way, while monetizing their time.
Who are the founders/ background?
Will Zell (CEO) is based in Columbus, OH, and is an Empact100 entrepreneur who was honored at The White House in 2011. His main company Providence Holdings has invested in real estate and several small businesses. He attended The Ohio State University where he studied business.
Mathew Brian (Chief Creative Officer) is also based in Columbus, OH, and is behind the strong branding effort of Huddlewoo. He also serves as the Chief Creative Officer for Will Zell’s Providence Holdings. Beyond that he owns his own branding company where he takes on two clients per month in addition to his duties with Huddlewoo and Providence Holdings. He also attended The Ohio State University.
Zach Ferres (Chief Technology Officer) has been an entrepreneur since the age of 15. A graduate of Ohio Northern University, Ferres built a digital marketing agency called BounceFire, which was acquired in May 2011 by a company in Phoenix, AZ. Ferres and his team moved to Arizona. Along with helping build Huddlewoo, Ferres is building a web marketing agency called Ciplex and also runs a company called Creative Priority that helps web marketing companies become more successful
What Inspired You?
In November 2011 I was honored at the White House as an Empact100 recipient and participated in the FEE Summit conference (Now Empact Summit). There, Jeff Hoffman, one of the founding members of Priceline.com, gave a challenge during a keynote speech to come up with a way to connect fledgling entrepreneurs in places like Egypt or South America with successful entrepreneurs in the US that would be able to mentor them. This challenge grew into the idea that became Huddlewoo.
I am constantly reading articles, stories and books about and written by fascinating people. Many times I think that it would be awesome to have a conversation with them, but typically write off the idea because the process for access is too difficult. Yet, an inspiring conversation with the right person can change someone’s life. In fact, in all of our journey’s it is often the conversations we have that become difference maker’s in our pursuit of our dreams. We simply want to provide a platform to make access to extraordinary people possible and simple. What inspires me about Huddlewoo is the potential it has to be a platform where a person has a life changing conversation. That’s cool!
Any funding yet?
We have received seed funding from a friend and it is personally funded.
What is your business model?
Our revenue stream will come from huddles that are paid for on the site. There is a 9.95% fee for paid huddles. If a person is willing to give their time away on the site, there is no charge. We make money as our users make money!
How different are you from other networks?
We are passionate about and fight for daily the opportunity for people to have the most important conversations of their life on Huddlewoo. We are giving extraordinary people the tools they need to make giving access make sense. We also believe that extraordinary is innate in every person. The right conversation with the right person can unlock big dreams that will produce big actions. We bring the inspiring and the inspired together.
Have you had any challenges?
Many. We are an agile team spread across the country, which is a new experience for me. At first it was uncomfortable, but I found out quickly that the people on our team are amazing! My biggest challenges came in my personal life. One month before we launched our Alpha my father passed away. For the month prior to his passing my wife and I moved him in with us as his sickness progressed, and we became his primary care provider. This was the most challenging month of my life, but also the most rewarding as I was able to spend high quality time with him. I have read many articles, stories and books about the importance of having the right team. They are all right! In a situation that could have made things fall apart (the care of my father was very demanding of time and focus) my co-founders and the others on our team kept everything moving forward and we launched on time with a beautiful website. It is good to have compassionate people on your team!
How many connections so far?
We have under 100 select users testing our Alpha site’s full functionality. Anyone can come and create their profile, and when we enter Beta in January everyone will have full functionality.
Our plans are simple. We will continue to develop rich tools and features for our users to enjoy while having life changing conversations. We adhere to Lean Startup principles and will listen to our users to develop the features they desire. There is a lot of opportunity in front of us.