“YELLaround” is an online local message broadcasting platform that travels with you everywhere you go and connects you with everyone in your area.
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Case’ regarding his start-up company “YELLaround”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “YELLaround” is all about?
YELLaround is the world’s first local message broadcasting platform.
It is a location-based newsfeed of all messages (Yells) that are posted within your location radius.
YELLaround gives individuals, organizations, and businesses the ability to reach every YELLaround user that is near them.
With YELLaround you don’t need to add friends or try to attract followers, you immediately are connected with anyone within a common distance radius.
2. When has “YELLaround” been founded? And what stage is “YELLaround” currently at?
Our startup was founded September 2011. Our startup is preparing for a private beta release focused on the University of Minnesota campus and the Twin Cities in September 2012.
We will expand YELLaround to more cities based on the number of signups we receive on www.yellaround.com.
Once a city has reached the signup threshold we’ve established, then we will release YELLaround in that city, so sign up today!
3. What is “YELLaround”’s business model and how does it work?
Our company is focused on growing our user base and creating a great experience for our users.
We believe too many startups are focused on making money instead of creating products that users love.
Revenue is a result of making great products.
We believe there is an opportunity for YELLaround to eventually move to a freemium model that would allow advanced features for business and power users that are interested in high performing Yells.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Trong and I met when we worked together at a previous job.
We started YELLaround as a hobby project and began to spend more and more time on it until it became a reality.
I am responsible for user experience, testing, and business tasks within YELLaround.
Trong is responsible for development and technology decision making.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
YELLaround is unique because its a newsfeed that is follows you everywhere you go.
When you travel to a new city, your Twitter followers and Facebook friends don’t come with you.
With YELLaround, you could be traveling in a completely new city and feel like you know exactly what is happening and what is on the minds of everyone there.
You don’t have to check in to every restaurant or bar.
You just pull up your newsfeed or mapview and see what places are most talked about on YELLaround.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “YELLaround” achieved so far?
YELLaround recently completed alpha testing with a private user group.
We are going to be rolling out a private beta in the Twin Cities, MN in September 2012.
Currently we have open signups on www.yellaround.com.
We have established a signup number threshold internally that will determine which city we will roll out to next.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “YELLaround”’s competitive advantage over them?
We compete with anyone in social media or location based app space.
Our competitive advantage is our uniqueness.
We have a much different approach than Facebook or Twitter. They are looking to connect you to everyone in the world. We are focused on connecting you with the people that are right in your neighborhood.
These are people may attend the same activities as you, people that eat at the same restaurants as you, and people that know about great things that are happening right now in your area.
YELLaround is not an application for people who want to sit around waiting for an update from a celebrity.
It is an application for people that want to find out about great things going on in their area, and get out and live their OWN life.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Our biggest obstacle has been time.
Trong and I have been working full-time jobs in addition to creating YELLaround.
We overcame this obstacle by working late nights and weekends to get everything completed.
This has been very difficult and has slowed us down at times, but we have been persistent, and we can’t wait to see all of the hard work and late nights pay off.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Location-based messaging has already been done before. We know this. There are several big reasons we are doing it better than the competition.
1. YELLaround is not for creepers. We did a lot of user research and we know some people are hesitant to be posting messages based on their location. To combat this, there is no 1:1 messaging in YELLaround. Every message that is posted can be seen by everyone within the location radius. Also, we will be enforcing strict banning rules for users that are using YELLaround in inappropriate ways.
2. We understand that users don’t like ‘checking in’ everywhere they go. Theres no checking in on YELLaround. Just go to a new location, refresh your newsfeed, and you will access all of the new Yells for that area.
3. Ease of use. When you start using YELLaround, we don’t ask you to fill out a massive profile, import all of your e-mail contacts, or find friends and followers. You fill in about 4-5 fields of information to sign up, and start using it right away. You automatically have access to all of the Yells near you, so you immediately have access to potentially thousands of other users right away.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We will succeed because we are in it for the right reasons.
We didn’t create YELLaround because we were out to make millions.
We knew that there was a gap in the way existing social networks work.
We want to fill that gap and change the way the world communicates.
Our team has a never say die attitude and can’t wait to get YELLaround released to the world.
11. If “YELLaround” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We want YELLaround to not only be a messaging application, but a platform developers to create their own location based apps.
We have some great ideas already within our team for add-ons to YELLaround that can add gamification and other great tools that can allow local user bases to interact in new ways.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “YELLaround” based on?
I came up with the idea when I moved away for my first job.
I realized when I moved to the new city that all of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers were back at my old college town.
When I wanted to find friends to grab a beer or find out about good restaurants etc. my social networks were rendered useless.
I came to find out 15% of the U.S. population relocates every year, so I realized this is big problem that is impacting a lot more people than just myself.
I brainstormed my orignal idea with Trong and it grew to what exists today as YELLaround.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
I have learned that startups are time consuming.
When we first started working on YELLaround we estimated that we could have an MVP (minimum viable product) in about 3 months.
I came to find that it takes much more time than that, especially when working full-time.
I also learned that no matter what, the time spent is extremely worthwhile.
When I look back at where I was a year ago when we started YELLaround, I realize I have learned SO much about startups, technology, business, funding, etc.
When I compare it to what I would’ve been doing: playing xbox, drinking, Facebook stalking.. it has definitely been a worthwhile experience.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
I hope that our problem will be: keeping up with the growth of YELLaround.
Right now we have a small staff and we are just working on YELLaround for the love of it.
We have bootstrapped up to this point.
As we start to roll out and attract users, we will need to expand our team which will require a lot of additional work beyond just application development.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
There are many benefits that all depend on the type of user you are.
For the everyday individual you can use YELLaround to find out about great things going on in your area, find volunteer opportunities, find sales/discounts, find your lost dog, find a teammate to play soccer with you, you could use it when travelling in a new city to see what’s up, or use it to speak your mind to the world around you.
If you are involved in a local or student organization: you can use YELLaround to attract new members, remind people of upcoming meetings and events.
If you’re a business owner or marker you can use YELLaround to promote sales, events, or specials to potential new customers that are already near your stores.
16. How did customers/users find out about you?
We’ve just recently started our promotion strategy as we roll out our beta.
We are reaching out to some specific groups/meet ups in the area and have focused a lot of our promotion on social media.
Users can keep up to date with the latest YELLaround information by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, or signing up on our website www.yellaround.com.
17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?
We are targeting the University of Minnesota and Twin Cities for our initial roll out.
We see YELLaround being a big hit on college campuses because there are so many great uses around campus.
We think any densely populated cities will enjoy YELLaround.
There is no better way to connect and stay in tune to everything that is happening in your community.
18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
The great thing about YELLaround is we’re all about the users.
If no one is posting content or checking their newsfeeds, then it isn’t useful. But with YELLaround everyone has something to gain from using it.
Whether you are promoting a club, event, or business or you want to express a thought or idea beyond your existing social networks, everyone wins when there is a lot of user traffic on YELLaround.
We believe that new customers will come as we expand to more cities and get our name out to the world.
19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?
One thing that I’ve found very exciting about YELLaround, is that it is an app that people like to tell their friends about.
There is a community element to it that makes people want to get others to join in.
I believe this is one of the things that will make YELLaround a success.
Whenever I tell people about YELLaround they want to see it work and want to help spread the word.
20. How are you going to scale?
We will scale by bringing great people on board to expand YELLaround.
No matter how fast paced things get, we are going to make sure we have the best people possible to do the job right.
We want to make YELLaround a great place to work and a place that enables and celebrates new ideas and innovations.
This culture will allow YELLaround to continue to be fresh with new ideas and allow continued growth.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
We are still developing a mobile application for YELLaround.
We realize that an application that relies on your location, mobile is a critical step.
We are currently working hard on our mobile development, but we don’t want to wait to get our website available to users.
So we will be rolling out the web-only version in our initial beta and mobile will follow in the near future.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We are currently focused on one market. That market is the Twin Cities location for our beta release.
I can’t wait for YELLaround to grow to the point that international expansion makes sense.
At this point, we must maintain our focus on one market at a time.
We are basing our expansion approach on the number of signups we receive from each city.
Once we have adequate user signups in a city, we will make decisions on how best to expand to that market.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
I think YELLaround could be an application that is used globally.
YELLaround is an app that the users make it what it is. There may be certain locations that jump on board and love it right away.
There may be some that aren’t comfortable enough with location-based applications yet.
Our goal is to make it available to users, get feedback from users, and make improvements until it is an application that anyone and everyone will be excited to use.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
YES! We are looking to hire Ruby on Rails developers, iOS/Android developers, and a Marketing guru.
If you are in the Twin Cities that would be ideal, but we are open to talking to remote resources as well.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are currently looking to raise funding.
Our team has been boostrapping YELLaround up to this point, and we would love to grow our team.
If you are interested in investing in YELLaround, or you would like to heard more details about our longterm vision please reach out to us at:
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Stop second-guessing yourself. There is always going to be someone that doesn’t think your idea will work.
The experience and satisfaction you gain from pursuing your idea is extremely rewarding.
Its not going to be easy, but nothing in life worth doing is ever easy. Enjoy the ride.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
We hope you all are excited to start using YELLaround!
Please sign up on our website www.yellaround.com to help your city to be the next city that YELLaround expands to!