startup hackathon

Background: Business marketing is messy, and it’s even harder for small businesses and shops to get the word out. Sure, they can create a Facebook page and try to market it themselves, but they have to compete with companies with huge ad budgets, content strategists and social media experts. While big companies end up with pixel perfect marketing, small businesses struggle to put things - such as visual assets and marketing materials - together. On the consumer side of the spectrum, we are seeing a shift from text to more photos and now, from photos to more video (Snapchat, Periscope, Beme). People want to consume content in a visually rich, unfiltered and brief manner. This format is getting more and more popular to share personal experiences but they still have to go through tons of text and heavily edited image on sites like Yelp to plan an outing or deciding places to go nearby. Facebook, Instagram, etc. have increased the gap between creating and sharing content, so what eventually gets shared is heavily filtered and not really authentic. On the other hand, Snapchat and others bring more unfiltered content by doing two things: making content ephemeral (so people are more comfortable posting what may be perceived as crude) and limiting editing possibilities (so people don’t have the ability to edit). We seek to merge the needs of the small businesses with the wants of the consumer, so that the businesses create content that doesn’t take a lot of effort and which the users also want to consume.

Our Idea: We1 want to let attractions (pubs/nightlife, restaurants, farmers’ markets, places exhibiting art/music, etc.) record short, unfiltered video to let users get a glimpse of what the environment/ambience is like at the moment, in a more visual and relatable manner. This is far better than reading fancy long text and heavily edited images that are often dated on sites like Yelp. Businesses will be able to post 15-second videos captured through the app’s camera interface with minimal editing capabilities to ensure that the content is authentic. The short video length ensures that businesses get right to the point and show the most compelling things. The app fetches the actual location of the device so we can categorize the videos based on location. Along with the video, the businesses also post a short title, 100 character description, and a link/phone number/map reference. Textual details are kept to a minimum, because nobody likes a lot of text - especially when they’re in a hurry to decide where to go. Also, videos expire in about 4 hours so that content is constantly fresh and as close to real-time as possible. For example, a classy (but not really too different from the competition) Italian restaurant having a live jazz performance, a stall in Balboa Park selling muffins and cupcakes, a band playing in a pub, etc. We use two search criteria from a user - location and choice of activity (nightlife, food, art, etc.) - to present a “live” view of the locations.

We built a simple prototype of our service using Invision, Sketch and Photoshop.

Future Work: We plan on adding upvotes, downvotes and commenting features so that people get well curated feeds of videos. We will also give users the power to make a video map of their location, so they can see videos on a map and spatially note what’s happening.

  1. along with Calvin Gomez, Prabhav Khandelwal, Rahul Ramath and Vineet Katta