Time for another installment in my CEO interview series, this time it’s Kevin Fremon from vibe.me. Vibe.me is a “location-aware web and mobile platform that gives people the ability to see and experience the world around them in a whole new way. By doing a “vibe update” via a smartphone app, SMS, or website, users share the vibe they get from places they visit, news they read, or products they use while earning “Karma+.” Vibe.me helps users navigate through locations and events by offering a real-time map view of all the vibe updates happening around them.” I thought this was a really interesting idea, the ability to “view” places based on sentiment, so I tracked down Kevin and he was kind enough to speak with me via an email interview:
Rick Liebling: First, tell me about vibe.me, what is it exactly?
Kevin Fremon: Vibe.me is a simplified social network similar to Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+. Although, what makes vibe.me unique is that it’s based specifically on people sharing their “vibe” (emotion, sentiment, feeling) in relation to a variety of things that are a part of our day-to-day life. An example I love to give that always gets people excited is being able to “check-in” and associate a vibe to a specific location like a restaurant, bar, or even a stadium watching a ball game. Vibe.me users will also be able to view the real-time vibe of any location.
The location aspect is fun to talk about but that’s just one of the facets. Vibe.me users can associate a vibe to just about anything such as trending topics in the news, #hashtags, media, products, brands, or just their daily life as it happens.
RL: What was the inspiration for creating vibe.me?
KF: Over the past 6 years my two co-founders (Will Mason & Dustin Brown) and I have run a digital agency (dontblinkdesign.com) here in Santa Monica. Our niche was developing sophisticated web software for other entrepreneurs with BIG ideas. We’re suckers for collaborating with passionate people and expounding upon already really great ideas, hence we were very successful as an agency. Over time it really got to a point for all of us where we wanted to bring our very own BIG idea to life and would brainstorm every now and again during lunches, down time, etc.
Then one beautiful summer day last year I was out on my typical afternoon walk around the block with my dog Luna, who also happens to be the vibe.me mascot. The sun was shining, had my flip flops on, and all was right in the universe. At that moment I grabbed my iPhone from my pocket and popped open the Facebook app and proceeded to update my status as “I FEEL AWESOME!”… Suddenly I said to myself as I quickly deleted my status update “Man, people rarely do status update about how they feel” and canceled out. At that moment the “light bulb” went off.
RL: It seems a new platform, service or tool is introduced every day, why should people choose to spend some of their online time on vibe.me? What’s in it for them?
KF: The value I believe people get from making vibe.me a part of their daily social routine comes down to a variety of things. Our users are telling us that they really enjoy using vibe.me because it allows them to add a bit more “depth” to their social updates. Also that they feel more “connected” to their friends because they get a sense of actually how they are doing throughout the day vs. just what they are doing.
Beyond the deeper connections people will be able to maintain, what I’m personally excited about is all the amazing data that we will be able to provide our users with through different visualizations. One of our initiatives as we release the mobile app and reach a larger scale will be a vibe map feature. Imagine being able to see the real-time vibe across the country (or world) as it happens. Then being able to add other data sets on top of that such as weather or current events. Since our data is very quantifiable and everyone can relate to a vibe or feeling, it will be very intriguing and powerful in my opinion.
RL: Mobile is becoming a more important element in people’s lives, especially as it relates to social media, Does vibe.me have a mobile app, or plans for one?
A4: I couldn’t agree with you more. Vibe.me absolutely has a mobile app currently in the works and we’re very excited about it’s release later this year. Often I’m asked the question, “Why didn’t you start with the mobile app?” While our team and users have been jonesing for a mobile app from day one, we wanted to establish vibe.me as a full social platform vs. just another kitschy social mobile app. Also, the web provides a much better landscape to find our product/market fit by getting the idea out there in front of people, gathering user feedback, and continuing to iterate along the way. It’s completely different with mobile apps these days since there are so many awesome apps out in the market. If your app sucks, likely people won’t ever give it another chance no matter how much you improve it.
Our vision with the vibe.me mobile app is focused around simplicity and intrigue. Since we’re essentially asking people to use an additional social app we want it to be as easy as possible to get in, update your vibe, and have a look around with as little friction as possible. Sorry, but using vibe.me you won’t be made the “Vibe King” of establishments or receive “brownie patches” for updates. Instead, we’ve added in a simple point earning structure called “Karma+” in which users are able to gain points that they can later use to vote on which charity vibe.me should donate to that month, as well as, get swag items like t-shirts or other fun stuff.