It’s often the case that we don’t think about how much time we spend in social media apps, and how it correlates to the face to face connections we lose until we really have a reason to. Sometimes it begins with seeing a friend in person, after a really long time — or hearing our unhappy parents complain. Sometimes, it’s because we start to feel lonely despite all the connections we have in-app.
A San Francisco-based startup called Tell Em’ is redefining the meaning of social media, by bringing people together in-person, and incentivizing them to share experiences together. As more people depend on social media platforms, Tell Em’ is enabling them to “stay actively connected to each other, by building bonds, and preserving culture”, says founder and CEO Felix Ekwueme, who worked formerly as a software engineer and product manager at the multinational technology company IBM and, after that, at a solar energy startup in Boston, Massachusetts, where he served as a CTO.
At both places, he learned a lot about the growing number of ways companies utilize the front facing camera to engage users. He also learned, particularly through his consulting experiences, about the importance of making the information users share a positive tool for building connections. Indeed, after being an active user on multiple social media platforms, and realizing the separation that exists between the people around him, Felix set out to create a culture preserving platform that leverages the human desire to share, to bring people together. Toward that end, Felix built a hybrid platform that analyzes video feed from social media engagement on Tell Em’, to recommend in-person experiences to users with shared interests.
The competitive edge for success relies largely on adoption and engagement from social media users and businesses seeking marketing avenues to engage the right customer, says Felix. Because there are over 2.4 billion social media users around the world, and just a hand full of startups focused on connecting people together in real life, to share experiences, the journey ahead is one with a prize that will shape the interactions of tomorrow, and preserve cultures around the world.
Unlike Facebook, Tell Em’ is built on almost radical transparency. Users have knowledge of how their data is utilized. Users control who sees the contents they share, and what is shared publicly. Tell Em’ is also providing anonymity for users when they publicly share content. The goal, ultimately, is to provide transparency, and privacy, to ensure that every user can remove his or her data at any time. “We are more concerned about transparency, Internet freedom, giving control back to the user, preserving cultures, and allowing users to generate revenue from the content they share”, says Felix.
In fact, Tell Em’ is billing itself as more of a culture transforming company than anything else. While it provides a platform for consumers to share their images, videos, and chat among each other — which is important, much of what it offers is focused on building in-person experiences.
Customers get paid when they share videos of themselves at social venues. When a customer pays for a cover charge to go into a nightclub, and they share a video to their friends, they receive a percentage of the cover value for every friend who pays and shows up to the same venue. In addition, Tell Em’ is partnering with businesses, which it refers to as hubs, to provide incentives to customers who bring an additional friend to a hub. This includes a free drink for users who bring an additional friend to a bar or nightclub. An initial target for the hub platform are bars, nightclubs, college events, restaurants, and technology businesses seeking recommendations for their employees who are relocating to new cities.
Tell Em’ just closed on an undisclosed amount in funding led by silicon valley’s top executives, and investors in companies like Uber, and Trilio. No doubt these backers see a future where a well structured social media platform will provide a solution to today’s societal divide. An offering like that from Tell Em’ is positioned to be a perk offered by startups, more of which are offering perks to keep their employees happy and in place, as the retention rate at technology companies shrink. Already, Felix says that a “handful of companies” are interested in layering experiences into their onboarding benefits.
A lot of Tell Em’s effort today, is “trying to understand the best way we can get our message” to potential customers, says Felix. “We want to meet our customers where they are on social media platforms, and college dorms, to showcase the value that we provide.” In its pre-launch state, the culture transforming company is already lining up brand partnerships with big names globally, and rewarding users for registering and bringing more friends on board. “We will be flying out the user with the most referrals above 500, to our office in San Francisco”, says Felix.
It’s kind of intriguing to see the team of advisors and board members behind Tell Em’, who have signed on to make a transformative change.
Pictured above: Tell Em’ founder Felix Ekwueme
Company Name: Tell Em
Contact Person: Tell Em Team
Email: Send Email
Address:325 Pacific Avenue Suite B
City: San Francisco
Country: United States