A Q&A with Moment.me co-founder and CEO Ronny Elkayam. The Tel Aviv-based startup, which started out as a social photo sharing and discovery service around live events and now also offers a mobile microsite builder for event organizers, last week announced the closing of $1.65 million in new funding. Investors in the round include Singtel Inov8 and Blumberg Capital. It was founded in 2012 by Elkayam, Boaz Adato, and Eilon Tirosh, and previously raised $1.5 million in Seed funding that same year.
SUB: Please describe Moment.me and your primary innovation.
Elkayam: Moment.me provides event organizers with an easy, fast and free way to create a mobile microsite for any event. The sites can be set up in minutes, in just a few clicks, with no coding knowledge required. The sites work as a one-stop-shop of digital content for that event. With five times more content than a location query or hashtag, the sites allow participants to prepare for, live, and relive the event online, and they allow the brand or business behind the event to engage with those participants.
What’s unique about our sites—beyond the fact that literally anyone can create one in a matter of minutes—is that they use the same underlying smart aggregation from Moment.me’s viral app, which automatically pulls content from all the major social networks and smartphone camera rolls to capture all the angles on an event and give participants the panoramic, 360-degree view of their experience.
We all know how powerful social media is today, and Moment.me’s mobile microsites put that content front-and-center to ensure that event participants are engaged, and brands and businesses have the best chance of interacting with them effectively. Moment.me gives anyone the opportunity to create a rich, mobile presence for their event, whatever the aim of that event might be, and however technically savvy the organizer might be.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Elkayam: Anyone who puts on an event and wants to maximize its impact is the perfect target user for our service. Whether it’s an indie musician looking to turn their live performance into a chance to build an engaged and paying fan base, or a sports team looking to enhance the in-stadium experience for their fans with the kind of digital content they would get at home, or a fledgling fashion brand launching their first collection, Moment.me’s microsites give them an easy way to take their events to the next level.
Moving forward, small business users will be a big target market for us, since more businesses are starting to use events as a tool to drive customer engagement, and small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) are particularly in need of leveraging every opportunity to grow their businesses and customer base.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Moment.me from the competition?
Elkayam: While there are a lot of companies out there who will allow you to build an app for your event—Como, DoubleDutch, and CrowdTorch to name a few—they usually cost a lot, in time and in money. Developing a native mobile app will often take a few months to build, and cost upwards from a couple of thousand dollars.
Beyond the cost of an app, for a one-time event it’s often unrealistic to assume participants will want to download an entire native app for one concert, launch event, or sports game. Apps take up space on a smartphone hard drive, and if downloading them means deleting another app to make space, it becomes much less likely that your event app will win out over Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp.
Our microsites, by contrast, are immediately accessible from a mobile device but don’t take up any space. They give event organizers a rich, mobile web presence for their event, and make it easier than ever for them to monetize or engage with their participants. Event attendees get a digital reflection of the event where they can see all the social media content that’s posted, get promotional content or deals on food, drink, and merchandise, or just receive information about the event; and all this in a few clicks in a matter of minutes.
While some brands have been using somewhat similar solutions, such as Livefyre or MassRelevance, for a while now, Moment.me’s solution is the first to put those capabilities into the hands of SMBs in an affordable manner. For small businesses or independent event organizers, our microsites are the perfect solution to the need to have a mobile presence for an event. Even our premium solutions are affordable, and most importantly of all, the ease of setup and user-friendly experience means that any event—large or small—can have a rich mobile web representation.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $1.65 million in new funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise more outside funding?
Elkayam: This funding has come on the heels of the launch of our new service and, as such, is a testament to our investors’ belief in our plans to generate revenue and take the company to the next level. They are as excited as we are about this next stage in the company’s development, and the funding has come at the perfect time to take our new service to its full potential.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds?
Elkayam: The new funding will allow us to build on the success of our viral app and accelerate market adoption of our new service. It will also allow us to expand our marketing and advertising efforts.
SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional funding in the near future?
Elkayam: For now, we are focused on building a strong company and expanding the user base for our new service. While raising money is important for a startup, our emphasis at the moment is on growing and developing our business model.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Moment.me? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Elkayam: For us, Moment.me grew out of a very specific pain point. We were constantly frustrated by having to check multiple different social media feeds, or email multiple guests requesting photos, in order to see all the content posted from real-life events we had enjoyed.
We built our initial viral app to solve this issue, using a proprietary aggregating technology to bring together all the content posted about an event, from any social media platform, in one place for users to easily enjoy. Later, we decided to make it a tool for business owners and event organizers, embedding the social media content from our app and adding more functionality to build a service that would allow event organizers to monetize more easily, and event participants to get a richer experience.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Elkayam: We started with an app to address a very particular pain point, and it quickly went viral. But running ads within our app was not the route we wanted to take to monetize or generate revenue as a company. It was clear from the success of the app that it’s the real-life event that really motivates and moves people, so we took our expertise with helping bridge the gap between the real-life experience and its digital representation to build our latest event site creation service.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Elkayam: The name ‘Moment.me’ represents our focus—real-life moments. We believe that real-life moments are the things that matter the most to people, and that our digital experience should match them as closely as possible, and enhance them instead of replace them.
While social media is often the world we live in these days, it’s important to make sure that social media is used in service of the real-life event as opposed to taking it over. Our vision has always been a world where technology helps people get the most out of their real-life experiences, and with our event microsites, it can.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Elkayam: Marketing and advertising are always an important factor when building a company, and for us, it took some time to learn when-and-how to use offline marketing and advertising most effectively. Shortly after the launch of our app, we decided to try an offline marketing campaign to increase downloads. We learned very quickly that investing in offline marketing at the early stage of a company’s growth doesn’t provide good ROI, not least because sometimes the product isn’t ready for it. Now we are more strategic about when we start putting money into advertising, making sure that the timing is right for us to make the most out of each-and-every campaign.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Elkayam: While the basic ability to create a microsite will always be free, Moment.me also offers several different premium options that will cost users a monthly fee for added features, like greater customization capabilities, more complex analytics, longer storage, and advanced content moderation.
SUB: What are your goals for Moment.me over the next year or so?
Elkayam: Moving forward, our aim is to pursue strategic partnerships with major website building companies, many of whom we are already in talks with. The goal is to integrate our proprietary technology as an embeddable web app or widget in these website builders, and consequently access a new pool of potential users.
It makes perfect sense to partner up with web development companies who have democratized the website building space so that anyone can create a website for themselves no matter how little coding knowledge they might have. Moment.me’s microsites do exactly the same thing in the mobile world, and we’re excited to start seeing our technology used by more small business owners to leverage their events to grow their business.