30. January 2013–
Looking for friends to go with you to that grunge concert you are just sure will be incredible but no one you know is interested? San Francisco-based music connection app Moosify wants to make this scenario a thing of the past...
The app lets strangers connect via their similar music tastes and interests, running on the idea that these shared tastes mean they are likely to get on. Users make profiles which highlight their favourite music, locations and photos. Moosify, started up in mid-2012 by a pair of Austrians, also recently announced a collaboration with Spotify.
VentureVillage caught up with co-founder Hans Posch to find out whether Moosify is really just a dating service masquerading as a social discovery app – and what the US has to offer over Vienna or Berlin.
Hi, I am one of the cofounders of Moosify, an iOS, Android and Spotify app which connects you with new people who love the same music and similar places - it’s like Match.com meets Spotify meets Foursquare. We are approaching 10,000 users.
There is a lot of power when it comes to music, especially when it comes to connecting with people. It is some kind of filter, and it is emotional and authentic, which is why we thought an app to bring people with similar tastes together would be so great.
How did you come across your idea?
The idea came out of my previous venture, it’s called tunesBag and is a cloud music service, where you upload your media files to a cloud and can stream them to your iPhone, web browser, car, whatever.
From a user perspective, the demand for social interaction is very, very high. Users think "I want to share my playlist, I want to post it Facebook or Twitter and see what other people are listening to". But in order to do this, from a startup perspective, you need the rights from the copyright holders and collecting societies, and this is really hard and very expensive to get. After a certain time, we thought it was really going nowhere, because if you look at Spotify or Deezer, the amount of money they need to raise is incredible. So we decided to switch to something new, which is also in the music industry, but this time to only deal with platforms that do the licensing for us, so we don’t have to! Like Spotify.
Who are the founders and what have you done before?
I have a Masters in Law, but never practiced. I was fascinated by law, but startups are just so exciting. This is my third startup. I was always fascinated by what you can do online and in the mobile space. It’s just more fun than sitting in a law office!
My cofounder is Roman Sharf, he founded VoIP company Jajah, which was sold to Telefonica three years ago for $207 million. He is a really great asset because when when you are new in Silicon Valley you need someone to act as a gatekeeper for you and introduce you to the right people.
We can provide something which is authentic and emotional, which I think a lot of websites and apps lack. So some apps just send a push notification that somebody is close and that’s it. What we’re pushing is music and all the power around music, and that makes us big in this space.
What is your business model?
The business model is based on a couple of revenue streams. The strongest are in-app purchases on the site. So you buy coins, virtual currency, which you can use for premium actions, like putting yourself in the spotlight for more user attention.
There is also an affiliate model, so you take a look at someone's profile, listen to their music, and maybe decide to buy a ticket to a concert from Eventim or sites like that, or a song from the iTunes store.
I think in the long run we can run ads in the app, when we have enough impressions.
And how big is the market potential?
We are already talking with big-name VCs and they are only interested in businesses that can grow to 100 million users plus, let's say. We are on the right track!
Who is financing you?
We have business angels on board. One of the co-founders is also an investor.
I think teaming up with Woody Allen and Larry David for lunch in Manhattan at Katz's Deli would be a winning combination!
Any advice you'd give to fellow startups?
Do it the lean way and always listen to users. They are always right, especially when you’re a B2C company. And try to always hire people who are better than you at what you’re doing.
Where will you be in a year's time?
I will be doing an interview about our recently closed VC round!
You’ve said it’s not really a dating app – but so far I've only been contacted by men. What is the actual aim of the site and do you think people are getting the wrong idea on how to use it?
It can definitely be used as a dating, or at least flirting, service. In the end, it is an interest-based matching discovery service. So you have Facebook for your existing friends and Moosify to find new friends.
It’s more about connecting through places and events. So say you’re going to Dusseldorf over the weekend and you have no idea where to go, where the cool bars or clubs are. You can use the app to see who is going there, what kind of music is playing there etc, which isn’t necessarily related to dating. Dating is not the main focus.
Why did you choose to base Moosify in the US?
For a service like Moosify, the US is the best market – that’s why we decided to go there. My previous startups were based in Vienna but I think they would have done better if they had been based in the US, or at least Berlin.
Is it easier to launch a startup in the US?
Not really. The opportunity is bigger but competition is harder. From a general perspective, I guess it is easier, because you have a lot of people who are doing similar things, so a really good network. But you still have to work damn hard to be successful!
You've had startups in Vienna and the US. What are some of the main differences you noticed between the two markets?
A big difference is, in the US, if you work on something and after ten months, or a year, you see no progress, you stop and do something else, you don’t waste your time. In Austria, and I'm talking about myself here too, you think "OK, I have to try this, or this". Quitting isn’t part of the game there sometimes. Whereas here there is a greater acceptance of failure.
I meet people at conferences and I get their second or third business card, from their new startup because the others didn’t work out. And they are raising financing, and sometimes they are backed by the same investors that invested in the first startup that failed, which would never happen in Austria!
Image credit: Flickr user Colin Swan