Meemee.tv - The inspiring story so far!
The inspiring story so far of one of the most exciting tech start ups this year!
It was October 2012 – I was chatting at my health club ‘The Chelsea Spa’ with one of my best friends Kathryn – who was visiting from the states.
Kathryn and her first husband had built one of the first internet service providers in the 90’s and had sold it for millions $’s – as a buy out clause they had to spend a year in London starting a UK team.
It was during their ‘London’ year back in 1999 that we met – she rented the house next door to me! It was fun as we both had little 4 year-old daughters. Kathryn and I hit it off immediately - I was a struggling entrepreneur, just starting my dating business (I went on to launch the first ‘Speed dating’ company in London) Kathryn a more seasoned businesswoman.
We had spent every year since 1999 either meeting at her place in sunny Florida or at mine in Chelsea. We even did a few trips together most memorable was a road trip in a big RV across the states when our girls were 10, she had also given birth to twins who were then two who came along on the trip together with their dog and Peruvian nanny! It was like Thelma and Louise except we had a brood of kids in tow!
So here we were in 2012 chatting about a tech business she had recently invested with. I told her I had a vision that the next big thing would be customised online TV Channels. I thought that’s what would appeal to businesses, entertainers, YouTube content creators, educators, entrepreneurs etc. I imagined a one stop portal to house all their video content, articles, downloads etc.
Kathryn being the innovative entrepreneur she is immediately got a sparkle in her eye and we excitedly chatted and explored and exchanged ideas. Kathryn suggested each channel also had its own live broadcast platform and we thought how cool it would be if viewers could interact live on the video stage.
“Lets do it,” she said! We had often talked about starting a business together but had never got this close to doing it. Kathryn got on to her husband Mike (she had recently met up with her childhood sweetheart after her divorce and married him) and asked him to get hold of one of his tech savvy friends and propose the idea to him to see if it was doable.
Luckily for us the friend Mike approached was the wonderful Arthur – who became our business partner and has that rare combination of amazing coding skills as well as a creative lateral thinking.
Arthur put together a brief after we told him what we were looking to achieve and before you knew it we had started to build our vision. Within weeks I came up with the idea of calling it Meemee.TV so we bought the URL and all of a sudden we had us our very own tech start up!
Kathryn put up the money, Arthur started the development and I started the hype and marketing. Within six months – April 2013 we were able to launch our first live version and I had managed to persuade about 50 founder channel owners to create their own online TV channels.
Since then we have had one or two set backs, first we went down the route of creating a five person live chat screen template which we had endless problems with so had to completely re-build on newer more stable software. Then we crashed about a year ago and lost a huge chunk of data and development because we had not created a proper back up. However that stalled us for a couple of months and we quickly picked up again.
We had new ideas coming out of our ears and whilst Kathryn and I excitedly chatted at our weekly video conferences – using our own interactive portal of course – we used to watch Arthurs eyes slowly roll to the back of his head as if to say ‘Oh my god what do they want me to do now’.
Some of the ideas we developed have been put on the back burner, others have been scrapped. However many have amazingly been built by our amazing developer and we marvel at how rich the features are. We have discovered we are the only portal of our kind that offers everything under the same roof.
We have built a monetisation feature, which allows channel owners to monetise their content – so levy ‘pay per view’ charges on their live broadcasts, video content or downloads – books music etc. We also created a ‘donate’ button for channels trying to raise money, either charitable or otherwise. The donate feature can be re-named by the channel owners so that viewers can be prompted to ‘leave a gratuity’ or in the case of The Chelsea football club Fancast debate channel fans can ‘buy the guys a pint’ if they are enjoying the show. It enables content creators to test out their videos or ideas without levying an out and out charge – leaving it to viewer’s discretion.
Our live broadcast platform is brilliant quality and very stable now, it automatically archives the broadcast. We have seen channel owners run live debates, Q&A’s focus groups etc. We recently developed a ‘Private or public’ functionality so channel owners can decide if they want to run sows to unlimited viewers or just a select invited few.
We also decided very early on that we wanted to offer the service free, our strapline has always been ‘Anybody can be a global somebody’ – I always took inspiration from the young Jamal Edwards who built a fantastic YouTube channel which attracted a huge following as a teenager by sheer hard work and adrenaline. He made millions when a VC invested. I wanted to allow all the new breed of online entrepreneurs the tools to create their own online business through the meemee.tv portal.
All three of us business partners still have our ‘day jobs’ to this day – though our developer is soon to become our first full time employee! So the extra workload has been huge for all three of us, however it has been and still is one of the most exciting journeys I have been on. We feel so close now with all the recent interest that each of us becomes dizzy with excitement – well perhaps not Arthur as he is after all a techy!
Our next big ‘problem’ came recently when we realised after a series of focus groups that nobody understood from our website what exactly we did! – Which was a bit of a revelation, we realised that we had been looking at it day in day out and although it all made sense to us it wasn’t very clear to new users visiting the portal. So our current task in hand is to re-style our website (part done) to allow our site visitors to understand exactly what they have come across.
During our focus groups we saw the excitement in the faces of the users when it finally dawned on them what we did!!! We realised we may have the most exciting portal in the world but that was no good if nobody knew it existed.
Our thinking is to empower the next generation of Youtuber’s – by allowing them greater control over their video content and live broadcasts. Meemee.tv channel owners can customise their channels and even make their own deals to enlist sponsors to advertise on their channels. Rather than only allowing a select few – the Zoella’s etc. – with huge followings to monetise by running pre-video ad’s.
We see ourselves purely as the vehicle - the portal – for our channel owners to make money, whether they have a few hundred viewers or millions. We wanted our mediums, and exercise teachers and those giving guitar lessons to be able to earn money by offering live online classes and being able to charge for them. We wanted our football fans channels to be able to invite up to five of their unlimited viewing audience up to their video stage to banter with them and then toss them off the stage to bring new ones on for their say. We wanted our dating coaches to be able to sell their EBook’s through their channels and our charitable global ministries to be able to collect donations for their worldwide causes through their channels.
We see our value in the number of users we have so we are trying to attract the most creative and entrepreneurial content creators. We are not profitable but we have a monetisation model is place when our channel owners start to monetise.
Our white label offering has also started to attract a lot of interest – we embed the features into our clients own websites so they can run live Q&A’s etc. So we feel like we have a real business on our hands!
We still have a long way to go and we shall be giving live updates through our Twitter account @meemeetv so watch this space – this year we hope that meemee.tv will be on everyone’s lips!
by Lorraine Adams