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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Get to know a Toronto startup: myApollo

My ApolloThere's a new social network coming to town and they aren't being shy about it. You may have already noticed that some TTC shelters have been invaded by red teaser ads from myApollo, a new service coming later this summer from Toronto-based startup Arroware.

But according to Arroware, myApollo is not just a social network it's a super network and it aims to be the one app you will ever need to go to for file sharing, media consumption, social networking and even commerce.

Founded by two passionate entrepreneurs in their mid-twenties, Harvey Medcalf and Phil Kinsman have some extremely lofty plans for myApollo and are looking to go head-to-head with some of the biggest tech titans like Facebook, Path, Dropbox, Google Drive, iTunes and even Etsy.

Co-founder Harvey took some time out preparing for launch to give me a breakdown of this Canadian-made super network.

What is myApollo?

First and foremost myApollo is a social network but not just a social network. It's also a powerful data distribution system that allows people to not only communicate but also move around and manage small to large files.

We have created a brand new social network. It's not a Facebook or Twitter amalgamation. You can share things with your friends and public. But unlike other networks, it is natively private first.

You will be able to do the things that you are used to in other networks like profile quotes, sharing of photos, instant messaging etc. But combined with the data distribution element, you will be able to share larger files. With myApollo you will be able to share an hour home movie rather than just a 30 second clip, for example.

What was the inspiration behind myApollo?

We wanted to make technology work smarter together and take down the barriers that have been put up by hardware and software manufacturers. We wanted to create a completely uniform experience and have our users expect that and rely on that.

How does the file sharing work?

Think of it as your own personal cloud. The myApollo app works by creating a virtual super network between your devices. You download light clients on your devices - iPhone, Android, PC or Mac - and once you are setup you will be able to instantly access any files on any device on your private network. In this way, you will be able to listen to your entire home music library anywhere you are or grab a complete photo gallery and send it to one of your contacts within myApollo.

What is your business model?

We don't want to take anything from our users unless something is happening. And we will never take anything from you that you don't know about. Visibility and transparency is key.

Right now our business model is based on banner ads within the application but the application, access to the network and unlimited data storage and management is completely free to the user.

A lot of other applications in this space need to generate revenue by selling people's data or mining information about people and this is not the mission for my Apollo.

We felt that an ad-based model was the right fit for myApollo since the application gets to know you and so the idea behind the banner advertising is that we can provide users and advertiser with a more meaningful experience.

Who is your target audience?

We don't have a specific target user as everyone can use our app.

That being said we are focusing first on a younger audience and have numerous Frosh week marketing events in the works to mark our launch.

Do you think people will be more attracted to the data aspect or the social networking element of myApollo?

When you use the app you won't be able to deny the amazing capabilities of the data distribution system. It is extremely powerful and there is nothing like this out there right now. The ability to move incredibly large files very quickly is definitely going to be a huge draw.

Do you have any fears about entering the extremely cluttered social networking space?

That is not something that we have chosen to think about too much. And the reason is because there have been a lot of things that have happened in tech history that no one could have predicted. There is a great quote from Henry Ford I use around the office. "If I would have asked everyone else what they wanted, they would have said faster horses". You can't worry about the current state. You have to go outside the box to create the future. We have faith in what we are building.

You have a very aggressive out of home pre-launch marketing campaign happening in Toronto right now. What was the though process behind that?

We are home town guys and with Toronto being a huge center in the country we wanted to be proud of it and we wanted to show the love for Toronto and that we are here for them and we are here to stay.

We also chose to go with out-of-home advertising for the first phase (there is more of this coming) because we felt there was a huge gap in seeing tech ads around the city and we wanted to fill that gap and show that we mean business.

What's up next for myApollo?

We officially launch end of August/early September with our suite of free apps for Mac, Windows, Android and iPhone.

Post-launch we will be working on some new features for myApollo including adding in a commerce element which will add a competitive marketplace element to myApollo to give it another dimension.

by Tom Emrich via blogTO

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