Can a group of smart people from Israel do a better job of finding the most relevant content for your audience? Roy Weissman from MediaJobs.com spoke with Lior Degani, of Swayy, who agreed that there was lots of competition in the space but explained why he believes that Swayy will rise above them all.
“What Swayy does, it goes over your communities, your audience, your social, your photos and everything, and start checking out what they react better to, what topics they react better to, and provide the content according to that.”
Listen in or read along as Roy Weissman talks with Lior about why he believes Swayy will become the leader in its market.
You can listen to the interview as well as read it below:
Roy: My name is Roy Weissman from MediaJobs.com. Today we’re speaking with Lior Degani from Swayy.co. Swayy is a personalized content curation platform that helps you discover engaging content to share with your audience to share on social media.
Welcome Lior. How are you?
Lior: Hi. I’m great. Thanks for having me.
Roy: You’ve got this business and we’re talking about a social content creation platform.
Roy: You know, maybe you can give us a sense of why you chose to create this, your background, how your founders came together. Just a little bit of background on the business and the founders.
Lior: Yes. My pleasure. We’re from Tel Aviv, basically in Israel. Short story, it begins with a different product we used to do around six months ago, which was called Summer.
During the process of working with it on a start up and, you know, acting on social media and trying to be active as much as we can on our Twitter page and our Facebook page, we find that it’s really, really hard to find great content to share, that it takes a lot of time and knowledge.
We hired a community manager that used to work at another, two other sites finding content. Then we realized that it is a big pain in this world and we decided to check out other people, other companies to see it was an existing problem for more people that started up, and we found out it is.
We started looking around, and eventually we launched Swayy three months ago on a private beta, which is supposed to do exactly that, it’s supposed to help social media marketers, community managers, SMBs and start ups, share great content easily, just a few minutes a day instead of a few hours.
Roy: Now, your partners, you have three other partners, how did you guys‑, did you guys know each other? How did you come together?
Lior: Yes. Basically it’s an instant connection, we all spent from childhood, we worked together in several start-up companies before until we got this, I’m not a poet, but trading, to start up our own venture. Then, yes, we’ve known each other for many years now.
Roy: Now this venture is an evolution from Summer.com, or-
Lior: The URL is Getsummer.com, yes. It’s not an evolution, but it’s something that we wanted to build to help us work better in Summer, and once we realized that there’s a better business here, so we started putting more focus on Swayy and left Summer just as a history.
Roy: Now there must be, there’s so many different social media tools, platforms-
Roy: Content search tools. There must be some people, organizations, some other sites that are competitors that what you guys are doing.
Lior: Exactly. Yes. There are many competitors. Some are direct and some are not direct, but the thing is our approach is a little different. We think, we want to change this concept of concentrating in the sense that it’s not about what you like to read or what you like consume, it’s about what your audience likes to consume.
What Swayy does, it goes over your communities, your audience, your social, your photos and everything, and start checking out what they react better to, what topics they react better to, and provide the content according to that.
It’s something that we couldn’t find out there. No one does it in that approach, that’s one thing.
Another thing is that in other social media tools, not all of them goes with content. They are great. We are probably using most of them each and every day, us too, but we want to make content sharing much more easier, just provide the content, give you the best options, obviously to read the content if you like to, but also share it and share it better.
We can talk later about how we do it. There are comparisons here, but we are taking a different approach, and that’s our goal for the moment.
Roy: Who would you consider your two biggest competitors?
Lior: Okay. Our competitors are, let’s say, they can fit into two groups, either content
creation platforms, like I said, they give you contents you like to consume, and you can, obviously you can find them, also to share, and it can be from Seedling, which is Google Reader’s replacement, and you can find FeedBoard that gives you great content from your feeds, and so on.
On the contents for your audience, there are bigger companies that, like Percolate, for example, which provides the solution for brands, for big brands, and we are taking it to the more SMB start-ups approach.
Roy: Now you said, what was the other one called? Percolate?
Lior: Percolate. Yes.
Roy: Okay. So the difference is they’re targeting larger organizations and you guys are targeting small to medium-sized organizations?
Lior: That’s everything. Yes. That’s everything, you know, big brands like Pepsi, that provide whole solutions for big enterprises, and we are giving it that way that you want to hire someone just for the content. You want to solve the problem for companies or start up, but that doesn’t have the resources.
Roy: A lot of companies form these businesses and they immediately go after the big brands because they can charge them $25,000 a month.
Lior: That’s what they do, yes.
Roy: They don’t need that many people to make a lot of money. If you go after the smaller universe, what kind of pricing are you anticipating for your service?
Lior: In our immediately business model, it’s a framing model, it’s a description model, but we provide different solutions, we provide a solution that is good for ourselves, as a start up, on social media, and it’s a different product. I mean, they are going from‑, and you’re right, they can charge up to $25,000 easily. Get it to the more, that’s the SMB products, or even one man shows also.
Roy: What are you expecting? You’re saying that for a basic version it’s going to be free?
Lior: For yes, for some. The basic version is free. The basic plan, you get some of the features, and you get to connect two social accounts, one Facebook and one Twitter, for example, and then you get to distribute content according to this audience, so the audience of these accounts.
We also provide more advanced plans, which are a monthly subscription, where you can connect more accounts, you get better scheduling options, you can collaborate with your teams members. It will higher level for the bigger companies then.
Roy: It sounds more like a HootSuite model where they charge $9.99, they have a free version and then $9.99 a month, and then you pay more money if you want to have more, you know, a larger version.
Lior: Exactly. Yes. It’s very similar to what HootSuite does and Buffer, for example, those are good companies and they have great models, and we are more in their world, in their realm. This is the best audience, but we’re giving‑, they have solved the management problem and we are solving the content problem.
Lior: I’m using Buffer, by the way.
Roy: You’re using, what is Buffer?
Lior: I’m using Buffer and I’m using Twitter. Yes, those are great-
Roy: What’s the first‑, what’s the “B” one?
Roy: Oh, Buffer.
Lior: I think it’s Bufferapp.com. Yes.
Roy: Buffer. Okay. You’re using them both, and what are you finding when you use them?
Lior: I’m using them to manage my social accounts.
Lior: Buffer is for scheduling, when, basically it finds something you want to share you just put it to your Buffer and it posts it for you.
Roy: You can post it on a schedule.
Roy: With HootSuite, but, yes.
Lior: You can do, but yes, and I’m using, Twitter, for example, which is great, to get all my feeds because it has many social accounts, but we are going on technology. We have a semantic engine that knows how to extract whatever an article’s talking about and gives you exactly what you need to share.
It’s a different, completely different game.
Roy: Now are you going to integrate with some of these companies like HootSuite or Buffer?
Lior: Yes. That’s something in the plan, yes. I’m not trying to right away, but that’s in our plan, those upgrades to it and the initiative to work together or something.
Roy: Because obviously people are looking for one solution to coordinate-
Lior: You’re right. You’re right.
Roy: I mean, kind of like so many tools.
Lior: You’re right. Definitely. I also one tool. By the way, also the user, they’re asking for that, and that’s good, because that’s a sign for me that people want it. They’re asking us about integrations, then we’ll definitely do it in the future.
Roy: When do you anticipate having a launch of the product?
Lior: Soon. We’re just finishing, we want to be ready. We like the whole go fast and develop methodology and we a lot of little implementing, and that’s how we got this did a product in less than three months, and launch it very quick and we initiated a business model a few weeks after that private beta launch.
We’re generating revenue pretty quick. But, still, we want to do a public launch when we’re a little bit more ready in terms of features and pricing, and once we feel ready, we’ll launch it. I don’t want to say dates because, you know, I want to stand behind it, but hopefully soon.
Roy: Now did you say you’re generating revenue now?
Lior: Yes. Yes, definitely.
Roy: People are paying for-
Lior: People are paying to add extra social accounts for them to get better scheduling options, to corroborate with one or two team members in the company. We also give a little bit more extended analytics, for example, in the pro plan.
You get a few more features, that people need the product and use it daily are willing to pay for. We have two plans, one is pro plan, and one is the team plan. We have a few on each.
Roy: Now what is the cost for each of those plans?
Lior: We generated revenues, I think, a couple of weeks after we launched.
Roy: Okay. What is the price for each, the Pro and the other plan?
Lior: Basically the price at the moment is $12.00 a month for the Pro plan and $39.00 per month for the Team plan. We give it on a discount, 17%, 25% discount for the private beta users, but those are the prices, $12.00 and $39.00 a month.
Roy: Do you have any sense of what type of users you have?
Lior: Yes. Yes. I can say that people that have many social accounts, like, let’s say, they manage two entities, for example, they go for the pro plan. The teams, it’s a little bigger, companies, 10 people or maybe 20 people that collaborate content, or managing a few, several accounts. Let’s say, for example, media agencies.
They manage, they can manage 10 or 20 accounts on Facebook and we provide the solutions for them. One of our oldest users, user types, is media agencies, and we’ve just helped them work better for their accounts for their customers.
Roy: Say you launched this in 60 days, is that reasonable to say?
Lior: Yes. That’s reasonable.
Roy: If you launched in 60 days, that’s pretty much, say, the end of the summer.
Roy: Where do you envision yourself being in September of 2014, from a business standpoint, from revenue, from users, things like that?
Lior: That’s a great question, but it goes together with what you asked me before. We, in a year from now or a year after the launch, we want to be on the integration level. We believe that in a year from now we can do really big things for the HootSuite users, for the Buffer users, for the Twitter users, so many great management, social media and management tools, which lack of content.
They don’t provide users with content. In my perspective, in our perspective as a company, content marketing is huge now, but it’s not widespread enough, but in a year from now it will be.
Every companies knows, and will know, they need to share great content with their audience, apart from doing all the other stuff. That will be the perfect time for us to integrate with those social media tools then and provide them just content for the users.
Roy: How many users-
Lior: That’s our biggest goal for next year.
Roy: Would you have a goal for the number of users you want to have by next year?
Lior: We do. It will be, I guess, in the hundreds of thousands.
Roy: Hundreds of thousands?
Lior: Hundreds of thousands. Yes.
Lior: That would be a great achievement.
Roy: Will that be paid users or free users?
Lior: No, that will be total users. From then we are definitely, I can’t give you exact numbers or a percentage of paying users, but between 2%-5% would be also great for us.
Roy: 2%-5% paid.
Roy: Now you’ve developed this technology, you’re obviously working to refine it, I think the concept sounds fantastic. Obviously what your audience wants instead of just what you want because that kind of addresses a key marketing issue, but what’s to stop somebody else from writing software that does exactly this?
Lior: Which software? Sorry.
Roy: Now you guys have created the software to analyze the user-base of each account.
Roy: What I’m wondering is, you know, how proprietary is your software? What do you think you’re doing that gives you a competitive edge over someone else who could just be writing the same program as what you’ve done?
Lior: Okay. Basically it’s not that simple. The technology is quite sophisticated and was quite expensive, by the way, because the thing is, we do two things at the back end. We analyze your audience.
I mean, whenever you share, and whatever you’re sharing all the time, and we know, and we can tell exactly that topic, on a very, very drilled down level, what your audience reacts better to.
That’s what we do from the one side, and the other side, through each day, each day out of more than 50k pieces of content each day and analyze each one of them to match it between the two. The content you see on your Swayy dashboard is something we’ve gone all over the web finding exactly to match the same content for you.
The technology for that, not many companies can do that without the knowledge, obviously, and some companies, of course, do it and do it great, but for me, that code, the actual writing process and technology, and that’s something we are developing.
It’s more than just a social media tool. We are more of a semantic engine. It’s not that easy to do. Anyways, yes.
Roy: Do you see that this, obviously you’ve designed this for a specific purpose from a social media perspective. Do you see yourself expanding the business into other segments or using the technology different ways or just staying focused on what you’re doing now?
Lior: Yes. Content recommendation is a huge, huge, huge market, in general, not necessarily in our world. It can go from when you read an article on the New York Times and on the bottom of the article you can see recommended articles for you, that’s content recommendation.
The New York Times uses a tool that can tell, “Okay, this person liked this article, so he might like the other one.” That’s a huge market, and it is for the last few years, and it’s worked great, and amazing companies do that, but we’re taking it to the social level.
We believe we can, we should seek in that area because that area hasn’t been discovered yet, and that’s what we want to focus on. It’s content discovery for social media.
Roy: Staying very focused on this approach for this purpose, at this point.
Lior: At the moment. Yes.
Roy: How do you value, how big is the market from a revenue basis? How big would you say the market is?
Lior: Oh, that’s a great question.
Roy: I mean, because you’re selling a tool that’s a B2B tool. It’s not a consumer. It’s not a consumer market, it’s a B2B, which obviously, those markets tend to be smaller.
Roy: What do you guys estimate the dollar value of the market that you’re selling into is?
Lior: The thing is, you’re right, it’s a B2B, in that we provide total solutions for us, and start-ups and stuff like that, but in social media, I see myself as a brand and I’m sure you see yourself as a brand. You promote yourself.
You want to be better on Twitter and you want to have more followers on Twitter, on Facebook, and if you have a Facebook page, for media jobs, you’d like to get more likes and everything.
It’s not necessarily only for brands or companies, because everyone is active on social media and wants to be active and want to be better at it, getting potential customers.
I said it before, I believe that more and more people and businesses will expand into the content marketing world in a year, maybe two years, from now, it will be more main stream.
It’s hard to say, exactly, the size of the market, but as far as I think, it will be quite big. It will be some portion of the old social media management tools.
Roy: You must have some sense of a dollar value on this?
Lior: It will be just, you know, a rough number. You mean, in a revenue number?
Roy: Well just, yes, what would the total potential market for these tools, for what you’re doing?
Lior: You can get to, and I’m just saying, just a number, but easily the millions, easily revenues, easily, before it will really destruct. In the next year or two, it can be in the several million dollars of the year revenue, which is quite small, but that’s for now. That’s just to establish the business.
Roy: What do you think the potential is?
Lior: In the long term? It can get to, easily to, I don’t know, dozens of millions.
Roy: $10-$20 million?
Lior: $20 million, $30 million, I don’t want to say a specific number-
Lior: It will be really good. But, yes, that’s easily the context of social media, growing, I mean, it’s true it’s existed for many years, but the use of it and the fact that people are paying for great tools for them that helps them and saves them time or saves the money, which is one of the facets we found on Swayy, for example, and I’ll tell you later.
When people work with social media, any tool that will give them, you know, use the time they’re using, something like that, they are willing to pay, and that’s how social media tools aren’t working. It would just grow more and more, and I believe in the five years from now it will be quite big.
Roy: Do you guys, have you guys hired any employees yet?
Lior: Yes. We have. We have hired a community manager. That’s it for now. We’re looking to expand the team also for mobile. We’re looking for mobile developers at this stage.
Roy: How many people are you thinking you’re going to be hiring?
Lior: The near future will be two more, and growing slowly.
Roy: Have you guys raised any money at this point?
Lior: We have, yes. We’re in the middle of a seed round. We have raised founder money, and that’s it for now. We’re still raising.
Roy: Do you have anything you want to share with us, how much you guys are looking to raise, or…?
Lior: We’re just in the middle and we’re about to close this round. It will be a few hundred.
Lior: Yes. For this testing round.
Roy: Then, you’re going to be raising more money down the road, I guess.
Lior: Yes. Yes. We’ll see, but we might, yes. It depends, obviously, on the revenue then how big our goals will be, but yes, I guess you’re right.
Roy: Now, you’re the head of marketing. Is that correct?
Lior: That’s true. Yes.
Roy: What do you see yourself doing in the next three or four months with respect to getting visibility for Swayy?
Lior: Yes, that’s a great question. Marketing for any web app or mobile app, it’s really hard work, and the thing is‑, but if you think about it, Swayy is a content marketing platform. It helps to share content, and great content, and we really believe in the whole current marketing perspective.
As a company, and me as a personnel, and also as the company, we’re really devoting a lot of time on writing great content about any topic in this world and about Swayy, and we’re trying to put our name out there.
Right now, we work really hard and we get some great mentions of Swayy all around and you can see Swayy mentioned in many blogs, and that’s something I work daily on.
We’re looking also for growing the product, I mean, growing the user base within the product itself, which is something we’re working also, in a team level. Basically, it’s original content marketing and some viral growth from the product itself. That’s something we’re devoting our time to in the near future.
Roy: It sounds like a major social media marketing effort.
Lior: Right. Exactly. A lot of content and social media marketing, yes, that’s right.
Roy: Where do you envision, do you have any sense by the end of this calendar year where you guys will be with respect to number of users?
Lior: At the end of this year, you mean, like-
Roy: December of 2013.
Lior: That’s five months from now. Yes. I could say around 50k. That will be a great success. I mean, we haven’t launched it yet, so, we’re only growing by invitations only. So it depends when we launch, but we can get to the numbers of 40k to 50k for this year will be a great kickoff for 2014 for us.
Roy: It sounds like you have your work cut out.
Roy: I guess using your platform you should be able to share a lot of content and get some action.
Lior: Yes. It does help me a lot. Yes.
Roy: Do you guys have any kind of thoughts on once you build the business up and you’re doing great what your exit strategy would be?
Lior: There are several directions. Honestly, I can’t pick one, but there are several directions for an exit strategy. Again, I told you before, we are in the content discovery, which is, I mean, it’s a huge, huge market and unique technology is utilized there, and we are one of them.
We have the best technology. We do, that’s kind of disruptive to the social media world. So definitely, if the whole content discovery will go from publications to social media, which by the way is happening right, I mean, these days, so that can be an exit strategy. I mean, big content and discovery companies.
Roy: Lior, you really presented some exciting opportunities for people to do better in their social media efforts in getting and sharing content and a tool that has an enormous, enormous depth to it. Is there anything that I haven’t talked to you or mentioned that you’d like to discuss?
Lior: In general, I just, we really believe in doing stuff quick, and I mentioned, we launched our premium model a few weeks after we just released the product, and that’s something we didn’t do before in our previous product, and that’s something we learned and I think it’s important to share.
I mean, you should have your business model in your head. You should have it, even if you don’t implement it. You must have a direction or know how you’re going to do it, because otherwise you get stuck, and we got stuck once, and we were kind of stuck with great products and people, thousands of users used it, but we couldn’t see a way to monetize it.
That’s something that I think is really important for start-ups to know, and not only count on the future when that’s something we used to do and I believe it’s wrong, now. You should start monetizing as fast as you can.
Roy: That sounds exciting. How can people get a hold of you if they want to reach you?
Lior: We are all the time online,on Twitter. That would probably be the easiest way. I’m @liordegani and the company is @getswayy.
Roy: The website is S‑W-A-Y‑Y.co.
Roy: For people who want to put an “M” on there, but there’s no “M”, .co.
Lior: Yes. Yes. That’s the domain we use.
Roy: Did you do that for a reason or you just wanted that name and this was the domain that you could get?
Lior: That was our name and there was no domain, so we said, “Okay, we’ll solve it later.”
Roy: You found one. Okay.
Roy: Thank you so much, Lior, for sharing all this great information.
Lior: Thank you.
Roy: I think it’s going to be exciting to see the product developed. I signed up for it. I’m going to start sharing and seeing how it goes.
Roy: Maybe it’ll help grow our business grow enormously and we’ll be one of those testimonials.
Lior: Yes. Hopefully. Yes.
Roy: Thank you so much.
Lior: Thank you. Thank you for having me. It was great.