Typically when we get an email or pitch that has the words “event” and “app” in the same pitch, we get skeptical. The event space is a crowded space and an extremely hard nut to crack. We were actually referred to YeHive by our lawyer who is one of the leads in the firms emerging technologies practice. In other words he sees a lot of startups. I told our lawyer of my ambivalence about “event startups” but he insisted we check it out.
So Thursday morning we got a walk through of YeHive from the startups co-founder Brad Fuller.
YeHive isn’t about event discovery, it’s about making events more social. YeHive combines photos, videos, comments and a timeline to any event. Users can easily create an impromptu event or participate in an ongoing event. When you log into your YeHive account and then an event on YeHive all of your photos and videos get uploaded to the event. You can comment on other users photos and videos and also comment on the events timeline.
YeHive then archives all of the photos, videos and timeline entries, right now “forever”, Fuller told us. If you’ve set up a YeHive for a wedding, birthday party or even a camping trip you’ll be able to go back and check out the memories. If you participated in a YeHive for a sporting event you’ll be able to replay all the action directly from YeHive anytime you want.
Fuller and his co-founders haven’t cut any corners in building out YeHive. The website is built and functioning and for mobile they are debuting in the Google Play store and the Apple iTunes App Store today, simultaneously insuring just about anyone who wants to try it, can.
We got a chance to interview Fuller, check out the interview below.
What is your startup, what does it do?
YeHive.com is a new social media interface that allows you to group all of the features of social media around an event. Existing social media is focused around an individual, and that individual’s stream of photos, videos, and comments. YeHive groups photos, videos, and comments around events. This can cover anything from a large concert, sporting event, etc.. to something as small as a family birthday party. Just think about a kids birthday party, and how hard it can be to get photos and videos from everyone in attendance in one location on the web. With YeHive, you simply create the event, tell those attending to download YeHive and check into “Birthday party X, ” and you immediately start building photos, videos, and comments from every perspective there. Better yet, your grandmother in another state can log on to the website and watch all of this unfold live.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds:
Brad Fuller (CEO)
Brad is a 2004 graduate of Mississippi State University, where he earned his degree in Agribusiness and economics and also completed an internship with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Brad worked for six years as a professional staff member of the Appropriations Committee of the United States Senate, subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. While on the committee staff, he helped write legislation outlining spending of $32 Billion annually, and participated in oversight of prior year funding. After leaving the Senate, he co-founded Politrac LLC, which specializes in social media intelligence for political campaigns. Politrac currently serves some marquee campaigns in Senate races.
Dr. Gary Butler (Board Chairman)
Dr. Gary D. Butler is the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Camgian Microsystems® Corporation, with headquarters in Starkville, Mississippi. Camgian employs approximately twenty five and has annual revenues in the multi-million dollar range. Camgian’s original product line is in areas related to machine-to-machine networking and advanced sensors. In 2012, Camgian was named to the Inc 500|5000 as one of the country’s fastest growing companies, Mississippi’s Companies to Watch, by the Edwin Lowe Foundation. It has been listed twice as one of Mississippi’s top 100 private companies by the Mississippi Business Journal. Dr. Butler holds a Ph.D in Engineering from the University of Cambridge, an M.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University, and a BS degree in mechanical engineering from Tulane University. He has received the Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation from the MIT Sloan School of Management. During his years at Tulane, Dr. Butler was a scholarship athlete and a four-time varsity football letterman, and was named an NCAA and Entergy Corporation Winning for Life Scholar Athlete.
Matt Hayden (CTO)
Matt has over 15 years experience in the IT industry. He has spent the last decade as the Senior Information Systems Manager for the National Disability Rights Network, where he is responsible for the development and administration of the Disability Advocacy Database (DAD) System, a web-based client management suite. He also serves as the staff contact and supervisor of the DAD Committee, as well as the NDRN Website & IT Support teams. His Additional responsibilities include writing grant applications, providing training and technical assistance on website accessibility, as well as data collection standards monitoring and support. Previously, Matt was employed with the University of Alabama Law School and the Alabama P&A (ADAP) as a Technical Support Specialist.
Where are you based?
What is the startup culture like where you are based?
The startup culture in Starkville and Mississippi in general is very limited. However, Mississippi State University has an outstanding staff in the office of Entrepreneurship, and they have helped us every step of the way in getting YeHive off of the ground. The main issue for us getting started is that no one around here has any significant experience in the social networking space. This made raising money difficult, but we worked very hard and met our fundraising goal of $300,000 to get through development and launch.
What problem does your startup solve?
When logging on to existing social media, you may not have any interest in 80% of what your friends are saying on facebook, twitter, etc.. YeHive allows you to only view and participate in the events that you care about. While each user has a profile on YeHive, we are more focused on the event than the individual. Users can check into and out of events without fear of hurting feelings of friends like you would do on existing social networks. Also, since anyone can complete the event registration process in around 30 seconds, events can form very quickly to catch/crowdsource things as the arise.
What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Easy answer is fundraising….. We probably spent 4 plus hours a day fundraising, and we raised money in very small chunks. There is no way for me to express how thankful we are for our initial investors who believed in us when we had nothing more than a power point and an idea. I hope that we can make this a real win for them.
Also, one problem has been the short timeframe that we have worked on. Gary and I came up with this idea on the golf course at the end of May (this year). We formed the company in July, started building the site at the end of July, kicked off our fund raise on August 27th, and we are set to launch on Friday. We had many sleepless nights this week thinking that our iOS and Android apps would not be approved in time, but luckily both made it through the approval process today.
What is one thing the world doesn’t know about YeHive?
The world doesn’t really know anything about us yet, but we hope to burst onto the scene on Friday.
I really believe that we can get 5-10 thousand downloads on Friday due to our marketing approach. We are being fairly innovative in our approach as most of our marketing is last minute and being done through existing social media. We are also the presenting sponsor of a music festival called Bulldog Bash, and thus will be able to stream the site on the big screen during the shows on Friday night. All of the local bars will be using cups with our Logo and a QR code that takes you to the app download, and we will be sponsoring drink specials when we hit different download numbers.
What is next for your YeHive?
Our next step is to start efforts to expand into other areas of the country. We believe that YeHive has application everywhere, especially entering the Holiday season. We had to focus our launch locally because of the event centric nature of our content.
Where can people find out more?
On Friday (Nov. 2) anyone can download the app to iOS or Android, or log on to the website www.yehive.com to start creating and sharing their events. We started with an idea and set out to build it, and I believe we have accomplished that much. Where we go from here depends on our users, and we will strive to constantly improve the site to fit their needs.