A Q&A with Wallit CEO Dr. Veysel Berk. The Berkeley–based company was founded in August 2011 and recently closed a $1.2 million Seed funding round. Investors include Masao Tejima, president of OpenTable Japan; ex-HP and Netscape executive Sharmila Mulligan; David Kellogg and Daniel Terry, CEO, Pocket Gems; Storm Ventures; Tenex Capital Fund; DBO Capital; and Orrick Venture Fund.
SUB: Please describe what Wallit is, and the value proposition you bring to mobile social networking.
Berk: Until now, social networks have focused on people as the main element and took location as a parameter. Wallit turns this paradigm upside down, and focuses on location while using people as parameters. Wallit’s virtual walls are persistent while content generators, people, keep changing. As a result, these virtual walls effectively capture the cumulative human experience at that location, thereby exhibiting the character of places.
Wallit’s app, named Wallit App, is a free geo-social iPhone app that enables people to create and exchange one-of-a-kind multi-media messages on virtual walls located around the world. Going far beyond a check-in, Wallit is a new kind of geo-social network that exhibits the character of places.
Wallit allows users to view and post to virtual walls located around the world in the same way they do to a friend’s or business’ social network profile, providing a unique glimpse into a collection of content that was created by people who were actually there. The location-based walls provide a unique canvas for people to discover and share sentiments. Unlike other geo-location apps, Wallit allows people to see who else is present, interact with one another and leave their mark at settings as varied as a high school graduation to a first kiss shared below the Eiffel Tower.
The possibilities for connecting with others at public virtual walls or for businesses to capture customer sentiments are endless as validated by requests pouring in from a growing base of users and businesses. Wallit’s user base is growing faster than Foursquare did, and is already gathering interest from users and well-known brands, organizations, and businesses from all around the world. With the App acting as an interface, Wallit is well on its way to becoming the ‘location-based web.’
SUB: Who are your target users?
Berk: iPhone users with a skew towards those active in social media.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Berk: There is currently no solution like the one Wallit is providing with location as the pivotal element and the simple and extremely powerful virtual wall concept to serve as the exchange canvas. Other social or location-based apps mostly maintain people as the focal point or are limited in their solution offering.
SUB: What differentiates Wallit from the competition?
Berk: As mentioned above, Wallit currently does not have any direct competition. Wallit’s unique solution positions Wallit as the ‘location-based’ web, thus opening a whole new door, while disrupting the pie and market growth in multiple overlapping markets all the way from the social and mobile, to advertising, to the business solutions space.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Berk: Wallit Inc. was founded in August 2011. Initial priorities included getting full-time top talent commitment, which was followed by funding, and the usual logistical steps in establishing the company in Berkeley, California.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Wallit? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Berk: The original virtual walls idea was inspired by my observations of the nature of bacteria in my lab. The details of the interactions of users with virtual walls are also inspired by real-life examples, such as the fact that you can only write on a wall only when you’re actually there.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Berk: Our biggest challenge has come post-launch, as we try to retain our laser-focus on building the best product. We have received many wonderful suggestions from our diverse and innovative user base, and also business inquiries from some of the largest brands worldwide. We are evaluating how and when to implement each of these ideas daily.
SUB: You recently closed a $1.2 million Seed funding round. How do you plan to use the funds?
Berk: The seed funding is being used to continually improve the user experience in the application and grow the user base.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more funding in the near future?
Berk: The company will evaluate the need for additional funding on an on-going basis and make a determination with the board of directors on when is an appropriate time to do so.
SUB: What are your goals for Wallit over the next year or so?
Berk: We aim to grow our base to 2.5 million users over the next 6-12 months.
Wallit – www.wallitapp.com