How would you love to be on a social network which blends your Facebook “Likes” and Foursquare “check-ins”? CircleMe is that sweet spot to create your profile based on your interests across networks like Facebook, Foursquare and Netflix.
“As social web is becoming more personal, it is a necessity that we get a place to focus on what we love and like! CircleMe is trying to make the web experience always more ‘personal’ and relevant to each single person.”
Startups.fm had an interesting conversation with CircleMe. Here is what they are saying
Idea and vision behind CircleMe….
We feel if people start enjoying more the things that they are passionate about, they will also discover new things to like and get interested on. In order to succeed with this challenging project, we first need to understand users and their interests; on the other side, we need to provide a compelling user-experience and advanced technologies so that the content, services and activities that surface around each single interest are worth the person’s precious time when online.
How CircleMe started up….
Cascaad, the startup behind the product CircleMe (http://circleme.com) , was funded by Erik Lumer, in late 2008. After few months of self-funding, he got a first seed investment from Innogest Sgr, biggest VC in Italy for this sector. As the project got more concrete, we then got additional funding from Innogest which allowed us to launch CircleMe on the market just this month (along with a very slick iPhone app).
CircleMe’s target market and user engagement drives…..
Regarding our target market, we seem to have great appeal for young adults (25-40 years old) who want to focus more on a deeper engagement experience related to their interests, and less on superficial connections with people on other social media sites. We also are pleased to see many people passionate about art, design, architecture, literature join. CircleMe is becoming a place where people can finally give more meaning to the activity of “liking” things. The engagement is very much related to providing value to the activity of expressing an interest, so we try our best to make sure that the user-experience within the site orbits around each single item of interest.
For the business model, the idea is to focus on providing additional services and content that could enrich the experience for each user, based on their individual interests. This means also allowing users to downlonad the music related to a musician they stated to be a fan of, giving a discount for all the books published by the preferred novelist, etc. For now though, our focus is on user-experience and engagement – we will think of revenue generation in a second phase.
CircleMe and its competitor stories…
Many people compare us at different types of services. Recently, also because of the growing popularity, we have been compared to Pinterest. While I can see why they make the association, Pinterest is a very different product from the one we offer. On Pinterest people focus on expressing interests through collecting and sharing images. We go much beyond that because we allow people to associate their profile to concepts, and not just images, of an interest. This means that when a user says for example that she likes the music by “Adele”, we not only can show images of the artist, but also can offer audio samples of her music, a video of her performances, articles about her career and shows, and much more.
For our newly released app, finding true competitors is more difficult especially since introducing our new feature of “planting”. With the CircleMe iPhone app, beside finding most of the CircleMe features in it, people can also associate (i.e., ‘plant’) any passion they have to any physical location, and then leave this as a note for anyone to discover, or for a specific person or group of people. We believe that this new feature could really open new perspective on how people enjoy passions in real life.
TEAM: Founder/Chairman: Erik Lumer, CEO: Giuseppe D’Antonio, 4 engineers/dev’s + 1 marketing manager + 1 community manager + 2 content managers
For us actually the team is everything! I believe what we were able to achieve, the quality of what we have developed, and the great visibility and reviews we received internationally all depend on the fact that the team was able to work together, passionately, efficiently and with admirable stamina.
CircleMe on starting up and social entrepreneurship….
It is difficult to look back at all the lessons learned so far, as they are really many. In the last months, we learned really a lot about what users want (and what they really prefer not to have). So, gradually, we learned to listen much better. No matter what our ideas are when we come up with them, at the end the user recognition and feedback (both direct and indirect) is fundamental to decide how to move forward. We believe we do it much better.
We are now in the process of closing a new round of financing that should allow to move to the next phase of revenue-generation (probably to be closed by the summer), but indeed these processes are complicated and cumbersome, and while it is of clear importance to us, it would be a mistake to forget about the day-to-day.
It is great to see that, especially in these last years, social entrepreneurship is becoming a worthy choice of living for many people. Transforming the entrepreneur-bug into an activity of high value for the entire community is absolutely fantastic. While with CircleMe, we would not say that we go as far as solving a problem of society. This new conscience that many people have about the importance of doing something to improve today’s society status-quo is very promising, and we believe will bring us many long-term benefits.
CircleMe on Startup ecosystem….
For us the eco-system is crucial. Not only we work with young startups like ours (e.g., our video producers are http://www.ilenoliukgo.com ) but CircleMe also allows you to integrate with other startups such as Foursquare or goodreads.com, therefore providing a great value to all parties involved. Furthermore, we see the value in providing some of our services through API’s in the future, so we will get working on that as well once the times are mature.
Fun @ Work…
We are a true startup – we work really hard but also have lots of fun in the way! We are small, so we do not do fancy/crazy things, but we certainly have fun. For now, in CircleMe we do like to enjoy our time with few fun rituals, like the foosball game, the drinks or dinner some evenings, the weekend retreat, etc. We want to continue to foster this “fun” culture in the company, and have 1000 ideas…
New releases from CircleMe….
We are in crunch-time during these weeks, and you will see several important releases coming up week after week. For few more days we will focus on two things: enriching our features-set on the iPhone app, and releasing some new cool functionalities for the web app. Stay tuned. Of course Android and iPad app are on the product roadmap, but cannot commit on a date yet.
If you want to try the new iPhone app, you can download it from here.
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