- WEB STARTUPS
- WEB JOBS
- ALL TOPICS
Not a ton of pics today but it was only a daypart today. Should have loads more photos on Saturday. I even have a groovy pink camera tag. I feel so official as if I was a real reporter! Anyway, here is a link to my flickr set for SXSW so you can see my uploaded photos in real time.
On with a sample of the photos:
Spout rocks with the free Internet station!
Loads of crap
best way to wait in line – make balloons!
lego my sxsw!
Allen: How did you initially come up with the idea for Spout?
Bill: The initial idea was the brainchild of Rick DeVos and a few friends (Paul Moore, Dave DeBoer and Daryn Kuipers). It was fraught out of a frustration seeing films make the festival circuit but languish because they couldn't find an audience…at least not without a multi-million dollar marketing budget. Helping people sort through the abundance of content – films, movies, call them what you want – and giving a voice to the creators (filmmakers) is what Spout is all about.
Allen: Can you provide some insight into the technology behind Spout?
Bill: We sound like a lot of technology companies today:
- Open Source frameworks
- Agile development process
- We have really dedicated ourselves to a customer centric process driven by user research (user testing, focus groups, etc.)
Allen: Do you offshore any of your development?
Bill: Not a stitch. Our environment is just too agile for that to even be a possibility.
Allen: Why do you enjoy working at Spout?
Bill: Working with the talented folk that comprise the extended Spout team, including our technology, design/marketing and PR partners (NuSoft Solutions, BBK Studio and Peppercom respectively)
Allen: What has been the most rewarding element to working at Spout?
Bill: Our sponsorship of a number of film festivals (SXSW, Waterfront Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Denver International Film Festival). We've met such amazing people…helping them to showcase their films has been very rewarding.
Allen: How do you compare yourself to IMDB?
Bill: Even though we see ourselves providing much of the same type of information that IMDB does, we see ourselves as a very different beast. As IMDB focuses on data, we focus on making connections between people. We are focused on creating a social recommendation engine. Enabling trusted relationships within our community is the key to making it a reality.
Allen: Can you share some specifics about your membership? Age, gender, etc.
Bill: We have a pretty diverse membership base. Loosely they are: 18-40 years old, fairly even mix of men and women, more web savvy than the average person on the street…but all film lovers.
Allen: In my review I noted that currently you can only tag a movie. Are there any plans to allow users to write full movie reviews?
Bill: Actually, you can not only tag a movie, you can also add it to a list (My Favorite Films), write a filmblog review, start a discussion about the film, pass it along to another member of Spout or mail it someone outside of the community. And soon we'll have a full recommendation system generated by our users.
Allen: What is the business revenue model for Spout?
Bill: Right now we are focused on DVD sales, with about 40,000-45,000 titles available. That will extend to an online offering as well. We also see a revenue opportunity in offering filmmakers tools to connect directly with their audiences.
Allen: Who are Spout's main competitors?
Bill: Any online brand that figures into a consumer’s decision on what films to watch could be considered a competitor…Netflix, Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon. At the same time, I could very easily see us partnering with these same companies, driving traffic or leveraging their content.
Allen: What are the growth plans for Spout for the next 1-3 years?
Bill: Millions of visits a month. Hundreds of thousands of members. Thousands of user groups. And an unbelievable library of film tying it all together.
Allen: Do you have any plans to partner with either sites that offer online movie viewing or rental offerings (i.e. Blockbuster/Netflix)?
Bill: Not currently. But quite frankly, we are pretty format and distribution model agnostic. Although we would certainly like to facilitate our customer's purchases/rentals, we are most focused on helping them decide what it is they will watch.
Allen: How do you define Web 2.0?
Bill: Loosely. I think the most fundamental aspect of Web 2.0 is that it represents a shift from a "read only" space to a "read/write" space…a shift that assumes community and individual participation (just think about Flickr, Blogger, Google maps mash-ups…Spout).
Allen: Of the newcomers (sites live in the last 6 months) that you use regularly, which do you see as the most destined for success?
Bill: Quite frankly, I don't think I am really committed to any site that hasn't been around longer than 6 months.
Allen: What are the most important success characteristics of Web 2.0 companies?
Bill: That really depends on the service and industry in question. But on the whole, they really shouldn't be any different than any other company. The biggest challenge most companies have is listening to their customers. That's where I want to spend the majority of my time.
Allen: Top 2 things you have learned since working at Spout?
Bill: All simple stuff really…
- Not learned specifically from my Spout experience but definitely reinforced by it: business is business. I was at the Telluride Film Festival a few weeks ago and heard a great panel discussion – "What do actors require from directors to give great performances?" Forest Whitaker talked about his experiences as actor and director. I thought it was amazing. Great directors, he says, know how to bring in the right people, the right actors for the necessary performance…and then they get out of the way and let them do their job. Isn’t that the same thing in every other business you know of? Isn’t that the case with any truly great leader? If you pay too much attention to what is different (between industries, businesses, people) any given task can seem daunting. Looking for the similarities and common patterns can really help to simplify/clarify any situation.
- Design is EVERYTHING. As my friend Kevin says, that’s not design with a lower case "d" but with an upper case one. That means, everything needs to be driven by a problem solving process (Design). It should be obvious, but the goal of your business needs to be about creating the best possible solution or experience for your customers given whatever constraints naturally exist (time, budget, etc.). Ever had a poor customer experience? Shows that goal is easier said than done. Paying attention to and repeating your Design process will help you get there.
Allen: Top mistake you have experienced since working at Spout?
Bill: Not anticipating how much traditional marketing and PR is takes to make word-of-mouth growth a possibility. These things are not at odds – although the myth of many an internet start-up will tell you otherwise. Although word-of-mouth is still the best way for you to find an audience…especially one that will immediately value your product/service (friends telling friends), you still have to seed the neighborhood with lots of flyers to be seen in the first place.
Thanks Bill for taking the time for this interview. I am certain the CenterNetworks users have learned something about Spout and something about what to do and not do when creating their web application.
If you would like to participate in a conversation on CenterNetworks, or if you have any comments or questions, you can contact me via e-mail at allen===at===centernetworks.com or visit CenterNetworks for all of our news, reviews, insights and conversations.