'We have already adopted the app for the Indian market. The version available in India has a smaller footprint in terms of the size of the app and is optimized to work in Indian network conditions. We will eventually support all major languages starting with Hindi.'
Loop Now technologies is all set to launch Firework, short Video App, in India. We recently caught up with Vincent Yang, CEO, Loop Now Technologies, Inc. and discussed his plans for India and why is hopeful that his app will taste success in India. As per market reports Firework became the fastest social media app to achieve 1 million users in only 5 months while still in beta, growing +200% quarter over quarter.
Firework, short video app, is planning to officially make an entry into the Indian Market. Do you think users who have been glued to TikTok would like to explore it?
Yes, we are confident on owning our own market position in India. Firework is actually very different from TikTok in the following ways:
1. Mature Audience - While most of the user base for TikTok are kids in India, Firework’s audience is a bit mature, ranging from 18 all the way to 30.
2. 30 Seconds Story Telling - we intentionally focus on contents that are 30 seconds and longer. We deprioritized 15 seconds (the main content length for TikTok) because you can barely tell a story under 15 seconds. So most of the video on TikTok are lip syncs, belly dances and very silly memes. You won’t find these on Firework.
3. High Quality Content by the Professionals - while TikTok and other short video platforms focus on low-end user generated content, Firework created a community of hundreds of thousands of professional creators or people that aspire to be professionals. A typical persona for TikTok might be a nine-year-old kid trying to have fun by doing a lip-synchs. But a typical persona for Firework would be a 17-year-old aspiring to a professional content creator in the fashion industry.
4. Reveal – a new patent-pending storytelling format: We noticed all professional creators like to use a high-end camera and shoot horizontal videos that later they posted onto Youtube. Normally TikTok or Snapchat/IG videos are viewed most as low quality vertical “Selfies” mainly for fun among your close friends. Firework wanted to change that. With that we invented a new content format whereby we allow pros to continue to use their professional cameras to shoot horizontal videos but can be converted into our Reveal format and watched in a mobile-friendly vertical format. The most magical part is that users can rotate their role 360 degree and see all angels of this video. As soon as we launched Reveal, we got featured by Apple a few times in US and got the award of the most inventive app on Google Play. Reveal gives all creators now a new way of storytelling that was never possible in all other platforms.
What was the idea behind making the app? Did having people in core team who have worked in different social media platforms at one point of the time or other catalyze it?
Some part of core team came from social media platforms like Linkedin, Snapchat, Instagram and helped build these companies from the beginning to multi-billion dollar companies. The other part came from the artificial intelligence industry and helped build EverString (No.1 in predictive analytics), Admob (acquired by Google for $1bn). So we constantly brainstorm how the new social media platform would evolve 5 to 10 years from now. So it’s not very difficult for us to all come to a conclusion that short-form video platform powered by AI would be re-shaping the future media industry, in particular when 5G comes. However, we realized there are already a few players in the market including TikTok (formerly Musical.ly), Likee, Dubsmash, etc.
I took the courage to actually cold-call all of their CEOs/Presidents to get their take. What we find is very interesting. The short video industry is very much similar to the early days of Youtube where content is very low quality and limited to only one to two content types (in this case, Lip Synch kind of is what short videos are for at the moment). Based on that, we decided to do something very different here by combining: a) 30 seconds story telling, b) reveal as a new format, c) high quality content.
Luckily it worked very well and we quickly get our first million users within a matter of a few months in US. Now we wanted to take the same success we have and bring this over to India.
Reveal seems to be an interesting feature which capitalizes on the curiosity of the human mind. Is it the USP of the app?
Yes, Reveal is a very big USP of the app. However, we have many other uniques takes of a social short video app that hasn’t been tried by our company. Those include:
a) No Likes – we are the first social media app that took off likes. We realized there are too many creators trolling for likes instead of pushing the boundary of creativity. The existence of “likes” has created a big unnecessary peer pressure that discourages creativity.
b) No comments – same here. Internet world can be very dark. Online bully is a real thing. Again, our philosophy is to create a platform for creators to shine and maximize their creativity, without worrying any negativities.
c) No stickers – compared to TikTok/Snap where users can turn their head into a cute little dog or others, Firework do not have any stickers. We wanted to push for the original creativity with full diversity.
d) Professional Curator can also be fun – we introduced an action called “repost”, which is very different from all other players. Because Firework stands for high quality creativity, not everyone find it easy to create their own content. What else can they do? They can actually curate great content and share to their community and showcasing their strong taste making. Anyone can click repost on any video and that would build up his/her own feed that other people can follow. We have people that never created anything but spend lots of time curating great content and build up a strong following base.
Will the app be customized for Indian audience in terms of content and language support?
We have already adopted the app for the Indian market. The version available in India has a smaller footprint in terms of the size of the app and is optimized to work in Indian network conditions. We will eventually support all major languages starting with Hindi. As far as content goes we are engaged in discussions with content creators from all major Indian languages and already are seeing content coming in from places like Chennai and Kochi and even Shillong. In the future, we will build features that are specific to India and caters to the needs of the Indian users.
Who will be your target audience in India?
The content is very similar to what one would see in a high end lifestyle magazine. There is something for every taste and age. Our primary audience remains the 16 to 25-year-olds who are no longer consuming long-format content or for that matter anyone who has some time on their hand and do not want to invest in a 30 minute episode. India is too vast and diverse for any one yardstick to stick effectively. Firework is meant for everyone who enjoys storytelling in 30 seconds.
In recent times social media platforms have been accused of spreading the fake message and creating disharmony. What are the steps you have taken to avoid the potential misuse of your platform for any such activity?
We have a big content review team doing 24/7 content review. The content uploaded into the Firework platform won’t be shown to the public until it passed review. And we have stringent guidelines that take into context the rule of the land, cultural sensibilities and nuances.
As and when you come to India, will your servers be located in India so that government agencies can access them in case of need arises?
We will comply with the requirements as specified by the regulatory authorities as and when needed. We are in India for a long and successful run and will do what it takes to ensure we comply with the local rules that are applicable.
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