When the Covid-19 pandemic left Simon Glenn and Chris Rabbitt wondering how they were going to meet new people for business, it was this exact dilemma which sparked the idea for their new venture.
The co-founders of social networking site, Meeow, talked to us about how their service revolutionises virtual networking and why they’re looking to keep company culture alive.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The business was born out of the pandemic. The bottom fell out of our worlds when lockdown hit. How on earth were we going to meet people and generate new business?
Simon was an independent graphic designer, while I had been a sales and business consultant for many years. We both relied on networking to generate leads for our business.
Zoom and Teams are great video services. They work brilliantly as a place to meet people you already know. While they are great platforms, they do not provide an audience or a way to access people not already known to you.
We launched Meeow in May 2020 to offer both a great video meeting place with loads of functionality designed for networking and a ready-made audience for you to speak to.
It connects four random people for an hour of chat. The more you use Meeow, the more it understands you. A powerful language recognition platform learns your preferences and works to connect you to people with similar needs.
We call it the Power of Random. By keeping the meetings to four people, it creates an intimate meeting forum where you are not crowded out or ignored and can participate fully.
What feedback have you had to your site?
We have had some great feedback and a month after launch we already have over 600 subscribers.
The best validation was in the early days when we asked users to facilitate the sessions to make sure they ran smoothly. Almost all of them agreed to do it – for free. These early Meeowists are our greatest evangelists.
What is the best and worst thing about working in social media?
The best thing is that the possibilities are endless. If you’ve got the right talent around you, anything is possible. The speed and energy is addictive.
The worst is that we’re a pair of middle-aged men in an industry dominated by 20-somethings. I feel old almost every day!
How are you funding the business?
Meeow has just completed its first round of fundraising, generating £150,000 of pre-seed funding capital to complete the launch and marketing of the MVP. We have an EIS raise going live in May to provide runway for the building out of the business to support the growing community of Meeowists.
We are also taking a growing volume of subscription payments.
What is the best bit of advice you’ve been given so far?
The best bit of advice is the advice we weren’t given. If somebody had told us that two middle-aged, slightly overweight Yorkshiremen had no chance of designing and building out a tech platform, we would never have done it.
But nobody told us that, so we went ahead and did it!
Do you have plans for any other apps/social networking platforms?
We have a B2B product in development that aims to bring back the “watercooler moment”, facilitating non-functional conversation in a workplace populated by remote workers.
Company culture is taking a hammering right now and this helps to begin to drive that back into an organisation.
What are your biggest concerns?
Community is everything in Meeow. Without our Meeowists, we do not have a platform. Their support has been amazing up to now but we are acutely aware that we have to look after them to keep them engaged.
The never-ending cycle of fundraising is something very alien for two guys who have always tried to run businesses that self-funded.
At what point would you consider your business to be a success?
We already consider it a success. The fact that people are signing up and using the app is validation to us. However, we will only consider that we’ve achieved what we set out to do when anyone, any where in the world, can jump on Meeow and be in a meeting within 30 seconds. That’s “mission accomplished” for us.
Virtual networking is here to stay. It’s easier, greener and much more efficient from a time point of view. At the moment, everyone is swarming back to face-to-face as lockdown is eased because we’ve all missed it. However, it’s because networking from the comfort of your own home is so much more conducive to so many more people; introvert, extrovert or networking newbie, that we believe it is definitely here to stay.