Ben Rubin

Ben Rubin

The humble founder and CEO of Meerkat

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 24, 2015

Discussion

Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
Hi I'm Ben. I'm the CEO and co-founder of Life on Air Inc., which most recently released the popular Meerkat app. I work with my team to pioneer "participatory media" through life-streaming communities. Ask me anything!
Mubashar Iqbal
Mubashar Iqbal@mubashariqbal · I design, I develop, I make.
@benrbn What was it like when Twitter shutdown access to their API? I'm guessing you had plans for that eventuality, but probably pretty scary nonetheless!
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
As you know, big fan of Meerkat and how you think about community-building (Ben and I have had a few conversations about this in private and on episode #37 of Product Hunt Radio with @joshelman and @eriktorenberg). Question: Meerkat blew up quickly and instantly became a darling within the startup community. What are you most afraid of?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@rrhoover That as we transition and grow up, that unique value proposition of live-video-button-for-twitter is gone, and we need a be much more clear with value prop for new users. -as in "why would normal people should stream on MK" (or at all) . I think we are doing great steps with participatory content, but we have much more work with unlocking new communities and being more clear with our mission.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
How has your personal life changed since Meerkat blew up? How have you dealt with people treating you differently all of a sudden?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@eriktorenberg so the thing i've learnt is that talented people are super busy and have much more "bidders" for their time. so sometimes it's easier to get someone's attention, when they already heard about what you are building.
Hillel Fuld
Hillel Fuld@hilzfuld · Blogger/Vlogger/Startup Growth
@benrbn ok I'll ask the question that everyone really wants to know... What's the craziest story that happened to you since the early days of Yevvo until today?
Rustam
Rustam@eynaliyev
What technology do you use to power real-time streaming?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@eynaliyev Home grown HLS 👌
Austen Allred
Austen Allred@austenallred · co-founder, Lambda School (YC S17)
What was your reaction the first time you saw Periscope? Did you know about it before Meerkat was a thing?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
Hussein Yahfoufi
Hussein Yahfoufi@husseinyahfoufi · Family and Tech.
@benrbn awesome camaraderie!
Niv Dror
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
Hi @benrbn, big fan of Meerkat. Has being named in MIT's Technology Review's 35 innovators under 35 changed your life? And what's your favorite emoji? #😻
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@nivo0o0 haha 💅
Soroush Ghodsi
Soroush Ghodsi@soroushg_ · Founder Slik.
@benrbn Do you think live-streaming will be a zero-sum game?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@soroushg_ the way i view the space, is that live video is a whole new category. -participatory content. with mobiles, and internet connected touch screens & internet connected cameras (at the audience's end!). --so for me is like saying that only one social network exists 😃
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Super important question: what's your favorite movie and why?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@rrhoover http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1602... the most honest & beautiful way have i ever seen a creator being able to capture the true meaning of love.
Eric Willis
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@benrbn You mentioned that Meerkat was one of several ideas in the works. As we all know, the first one took off. Can you share what the others ideas were?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@erictwillis reddit of live video / yikyak of live video / live video button for your contacts ... and many more :)
Jeff Needles
Jeff Needles@jsneedles · Data @ Houseparty & Maker of Things
@benrbn What is one word you would want associated with meerkat in every user's mind? Also, what made you build a ball pit in your Tel-Aviv office?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@jsneedles following a different answers from above: a "Houseparty" - and the yellow ball pit is exactly the manifestation of the same mindset 👯
Hi Ben, It’s great to have you chat with us! How big a company is Life on Air now? At what pace are you growing? And what's the biggest challenge you’re facing in growing the company culture you want? Cheers!
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@willooz Hey Willem we are approaching 30... the biggest challenge is making new team members feel the vision and understand what we are about. -unpredictable & raw -and the difference between a house party vs. a theater and why meerkat is about being in a house party vs. just passively watching live video from other people's phones. i hope it makes sense, I'm trying to answer as much questions as possible here :)
Jack Dweck
Jack Dweck@jackdweck · Product Manager at Unroll.Me
Your humble response to an aspiring founder is one of the most upvoted comments on Product Hunt. How do you stay motivated?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@jackdweck i stay motivated by focusing on doing what i love and constantly calling bullshit on my actions, that way i never end up saying "I'm so far from what's gets me excited" and i always have fuel to burn. i think sometimes that i have trouble to communicate the way i view the world, and that's get me frustrated. --so I'm lucky to be surrounded with smart people that help build products that basically reflect the way we view the world.
Danny Espinoza
Danny Espinoza@abcdannye · Founder @looksyvideo
Ben, now that everyone has a phone with a front-facing camera, and bandwidth is getting cheaper and faster, where do you see the future of livestreaming? Do you think we are heading to a camera always-on lifestyle on mobile?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@dannyjespinoza that's our dream. yes.
Rui Delgado
Rui Delgado@rui · Tech Entrepreneur • Consultant • TV Nerd
Hi Ben. My female friends feel harassed when using Periscope while it doesn't happen on Meerkat, maybe because Meerkat makes you tweet the comment. Is this something you had it mind?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@rui we did think about identity and how it will drive positive aha moments :-) btw -users no longer have to twitter when they comment!
Paul Tomkinson
Paul Tomkinson@paultomkinson · Founder, Textras
@benrbn hi Ben, what's your favorite implementation of Meerkat API yet?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
Sydney Liu
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
What did product development look like in your early moments of Meerkat? You guys launch an experiment and it blows up. What were your next steps? What did you focus on? How did you choose what to focus on? Did you test things at small scale?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@sydney_liu_sl Hey Sydney! we definitely have ongoing experiments running around in parallel. we have some radical ideas for features, so sometimes we think of a feature as a single app and build its basic value prop separately. (reduce a lot of time of dev & integration specially with complexities of live video) -- our main focus now is on mirroring real life moments to real time 😁😇
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
Okay everyone got to go, thanks for taking the time & being interested in MK's journey. I truly appreciate it -had a blast!!!
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
What are your thoughts on UK rival MyEye?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@harrystebbings haven't played with yet! will check it out!
Vamsi
Vamsi@vkbdev
was scaling (tech) considered when building the product ? How much importance give to this.
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@vkbdev we were pretty much solid b/c of @yevvo our old live video product :-)
Avi Zuber
Avi Zuber@avizuber · Software Engineer @ DreamCloud
What are some of the things you can tell us about rapidly scaling a team?
Ed Choudhry
Ed Choudhry@edch2020 · Founder and CEO of Sample Labs
@benrbn Hey Ben, I introduced my sister, stay home mom of 4 living in NYC to meerkat and she's addicted. I'm talking full weeks worth of Meerkat Apparel, attends the meetups, etc. So in that case I officially #BlameBenRubin : ) Serious question, what country have you seen the fastest adoption ? Do you think a country's culture affects this type of adoption?
Charles Vinette
Charles Vinette@charlesvinette · Founder, @appandflow
Hi Ben, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions! Before Meerkat, you worked on 2 similar ideas, Yevvo and Air. What made you believe that the fundamental idea was a good one? Most Startups dont pivot and fail, but you did twice keeping the same concept until it paid off. Did you ever doubt?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@charlesvinette so it all comes back to being honest with yourself. if you have a real vision that you are *truly* passionate about, and *truly* believe that is not achieved in the way *you* want it to be yet, you will be able to get your team excited, and be able to set your ego aside, reduce burn rate, make hard decisions and keep learning & iterating.
Charles Vinette
Charles Vinette@charlesvinette · Founder, @appandflow
@benrbn Thanks for the insight, really appreciated!
Ryan Shook
Ryan Shook@ryanshook · Creative Director
What service(s) does Meerkat use for stable streaming? AWS Cloudfront? Is bandwidth cost a concern or is it negligible?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@ryanshook AWS! nope, we don't save streams!
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
let's give @benrbn a HUGE thank you for taking the time to do a LIVE chat with us. Keep on Streaming on.
Hey Ben, Meerkat is a pretty new thing, do you already have an idea in which direction it will evolve over the next year(s)?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@sc3wnet I think that live video as a consumer category of self-expression is very new, and we will have to rethink ways to extract the unique beautiful emotions it brings into daily habits, and that's how we think about the next year(s)
neeharika sinha
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello Ben, i am building a community driven fashion App. I am wondering what is your suggestion to market such Apps after launch. What would you say lead to the success of Meerkat?
Vignesh Selvasundar
Vignesh Selvasundar@nextgenguy · Managing Editor, Techzei
Where do you see Meerkat going in a year from now?
Parker Woodward
Parker Woodward@parkerwoodward · Working to automate b2b referrals
Hey Ben, what are your main customer acquisition channels? How do you find your customers specifically...or do they find you?
Nick Rempel
Nick Rempel@nbrempel · Independent Software Developer
@benrbn This is my first time using Meerkat ever. From a product perspective, what actions would you like me to take the most?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@nbrempel go live. and we are not good at this yet.
David Notik
David Notik@davenotik · Founder, Woven(.co)
It seems your 14M round was well timed, given it came at the height of the exuberance over the phenomenon called livestreaming. Then came news of Periscope and a reminder of the reality of network dynamics, and the hype fell back to earth. How did you handle that initially? What did the investor pressure and relationship look like? What is at the heart of how you're handling it, including Facebook's own foray in the space, going forward? I want to guess "community" is a big part of the answer?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@davenotik community is big part of it. but we also feel that there's so much more to do in the space, vertically, not horizontally.
Aditya Gopal Ganguly
Aditya Gopal Ganguly@gopcruise · Developer, Practical Knowledge Labs
Live streaming sites and apps have existed way before Meerkat? What helped Meerkat? Furthermore , how do you plan to expand in countries with slow internet connections?
Alex Vinogradov
Alex Vinogradov@alexvinogradov4 · http://www.cfc.io http://heartin.net CEO
@benrbn hey Ben, i'm founder of cfc.io, where we are using recorded user voice (just 10 seconds) to detect age and gender, 99% for gender and +/- seven years for age accuracy. Is it technology interesting for Meerkat?
bryan s arnold
bryan s arnold@bryansarnold
@benrbn What's the most important thing you want people to experience when using your app?
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@bryansarnold spontaneous togetherness
Vrashabh
Vrashabh@vrashabh · Engineering manager, Terrible guitarist
@benrbn what would you have changed with your launch in retrospect?
Teresa Hammerl
Teresa Hammerl@colazionearoma · Socialmediapreneur
Hi Ben, which apps do you use daily (apart from Meerkat)?
Josh Barkin
Josh Barkin@joshbarkin · Co-founder @ Janis.ai
@benrbn Do you see imminent opportunities, or have a longer term vision (either internally @ Meerkat or via your API), for ephemeral e-commerce within live streaming? i.e "Buy now before the stream ends?"
Ravi Vadrevu
Ravi Vadrevu@raviformative · Autonomous Hiring Intelligence
@benrbn - I know you from Yevvo days through Tint team at Hatch. We met briefly for couple of times. Coming to my question - how does it feel to pivot from Yevvo and how could you convince the investors about your move. Cheers!
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@raviformative you don't need much convincing when you speak from your heart, you have a plan and you have data to support it. --i'm not saying we knew MK would work, but everyone was in agreement that we need to do some big changes and we had a x6 plans for simple products based on usecases we learnt from YEVVO
Nick M
Nick M@dailyprogrammr · software developer
@benrbn When creating Meerkat what was the most difficult thing you had to overcome and how did you do it?
Jesús Vargas
Jesús Vargas@jesusantvargas · Student, Syracuse U
Following up on @eriktorenberg 's question: Could you describe your experience at SXSW this year? Meerkat blew up at that time and it seemed like everyone wanted to get a hold of you.
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin@benrbn · Co-founder, Life On Air Inc
@jesusantvargas it was crazy. i barely remember anything 😂
Enrique Benitez
Enrique Benitez@bntzio · 🦄 Full-Stack Developer and Maker
Why Meerkat? :P
Kai Burghardt
Kai Burghardt@kaiburghardt · Founder, Engineer, Product Guy
@benrbn Periscope said they reached 40 years of watch time every day. How does Meerkat perform?
Rod Matveev
Rod Matveev@therodka · Student / iOS developer / UI designer
Hi Ben :) I was just wondering, how does Meerkat plan to compete with Periscope in the long run?
Ben Cousin
Ben Cousin@bewod · Bewod.com, founder
@benrbn hi Ben, do you have plans on monetization other than advertising ? What if I really want to (privately) chat with you to expose you a possible fork or a service built on MK ...? I'm working on it for some times now, and I really think it could be interesting to talk together ;)
Claudio Cossio
Claudio Cossio@ccossio · R&D Nearsoft Inc
Ben what are the main differences in Meerkat usage (celebs, political news, citizen journalism,etc) between Europe, USA, Latin America and Asia? Which one is the most unique in your perspective?
Sameer Noorani
Sameer Noorani@sameernoorani · CEO, Roomvine
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Rudi
Rudi@rudotwi
@benrbn What makes you confident that meerkat is gonna win the race
Shibendu Saha
Shibendu Saha@shibendusaha · Founder, Q&A
How do you see meerkat as a platform for hosting video Q&A?
Omri Shabi
Omri Shabi@omrishabi · GP @ Excalibur.fund
You and your team had a long road in the past 3 years - what is the most important tip/insight you can share based on your solid experience of ups and downs?
Zach Kahn
Zach Kahn@zkahn94 · Lead Podcast Marketing @ Vox Media
Hey Ben, thanks for being here. Do you feel like you and your team require the resources of a larger company to fully realize the vision of widespread participatory media through Meerkat?
Karen Marie Mason
Karen Marie Mason@karen_marie_mason · Founder of Artist Launch label services
I love how you said a while back that you had to go. And you were still here. Love that.
dan m
dan m@danielmeng07 · Person, among other things.
Hi Ben, big fan of Meerkat. How did you guys go about acquiring your first users? What channels did you use?