To kick off 2014, today’s feature starts with Heyku – an app with the mission of sharing your moments and thought through a three-lined note, similar to a Haiku.
With all the giant photo and video sharing companies dominating the social media scene, it usually provokes others to take a different approach. Just like Facebook led the trend of “open networks,” companies like Snapchat and Path made it a thing to keep them closed.
1. Who are you? Tell us about your business/core idea and what inspired you to create it.
I’m Paul Curran. I grew up in Vancouver and graduated from UBC in 2009. I’m now part of an exciting new startup that is working to change the way people share status updates.
We are Heyku: an iOS app that gives you a new way to share your moments and thoughts. The goal of Heyku is to enable the users to consolidate their thoughts and publish them in a neat three lined note, or Heyku, either in the app or on their favorite social media.
Today, social media is dominated by pictures and we wanted to bring people back to writing their statuses. To inspire people to start writing we developed a guided writing path that asks users 3 questions (just like the 3 lines in a traditional haiku).
The idea for Heyku came from a chance encounter late at night in a Manhattan subway station where our co-founder, Ohad Assoulin, saw an old man playing guitar. He wasn’t sure how to describe the moment and saw some graffiti on the wall that said “Where are you?” This simple question helped him start describing his moment and eventually became the idea for our guided writing path which inspires the user to write a moment, a feeling, a thought or an idea, in the best way possible.
2. How many users does Heyku have and what makes this app stick with them?
Well, we’re still in alpha testing now but suffice it to say we have a VERY healthy, robust community of users that is growing each day. Our community makes up a very engaging and vibrant community both in and outside the app. We are seeing very high rates of social sharing (heykus shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) which brings the creative discussion outside of the app as well into other layers of social media.
3. How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of Heyku?
We are inspired to see how Vancouver born-brand names like Lululemon, are now globally recognizable and are accurate ambassadors of the Vancouver lifestyle: healthy, active, outdoorsy. We want to get our users sharing their moments in a new way that not only connects our users, but gets their creativity flowing and hopefully inspires others in the process – like lululemon!
4. What kind of challenges has your team had to face and how have you mitigated them?
Building a social network from the ground up is no easy task! Staying in touch with our users and deciding what features we should be adding probably top the list of challenges. We stay in touch with our users via regular emails, a small Facebook group to keep our finger on the pulse of our community and even one on one phone calls from time to time. In terms of deciding about features, we use surveys to understand the needs and wants of our users, and what they are missing.
5. What core problem are you specifically solving for Vancouverites?
Vancouverites love to share pictures of our stunning city, unique restaurants and our kick-ass sports teams. We want to give them a new way to share their moments, what they are proud of and what they are doing in a format that will allow them to creatively connect with like-minded writers.
6. What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
Tim Ferriss, he does everything to disrupt the traditional way that we look at almost everything from our workweek to our workouts. Not only does he do incredible research on the ideas and lifestyle designs that he writes about he also provides you with a blueprint that you can immediately implement into whatever facet of your life that you want to improve.
7. What Vancouver celebrity would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
Probably Brian Adams. His creativity has been felt all across the world and we think he could really work with us in the right creative direction. Brian, if you are reading this, drop us a line paul [at] heyku.me.
8. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
Be pushy. Push as hard as you need to in order to get what you are after. If you get the door slammed in your face, go through the window.
*End of interview*
It’s always very interesting to see a startup like this make some waves in what is a deathly competitive space. Especially when a whole new angle like this is taken, it hints to the facts that there might be another hidden road to take when thinking about creating a social media company. It’s worth noting that seeing Vancouver entrepreneurs being lured to other tech hubs of the world isn’t necessarily a bad thing as they have a chance to leverage a new tech scene and still make Vancouver look good, just ask the new Forbes 30 under 30 winner, Brian Wong.
Click HERE to download Heyku for free.
*Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to paul(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit.