Interview With Steven Vaile Chief Executive Officer of H2O New Media
I had few questions for H20 New Media in light with their first funding round, Steve Vaile – Founder & CEO of H20 New Media answered me, then I followed with some more via email. So I thought to put them all here. Many thanks to Steve for answering them.
AC: who is your competition in the region in each of your product and service?
We have one main product and that’s social media communities, to that basis there are no other companies I am aware of in the region doing what we are doing, globally Kick Apps, Mzinga and a couple of others. We have a number of our own communities that we will be deploying across the region focused on specific functions and vertical market applications, we also offer white label applications that we are building into the H2O partner network.
AC: list of all platforms and services?
Lots, our own Dubai Lime, Clipo, Events Gossip, Promos in our partner network AdNation, Dubaimums Club, Adrenaline Sports Live, Custom-Nation and many more in development with partners – however the funding marks a significant shift to our own vertically focused platforms.
AC: You intended according to your press release to close partnership deals with Mobile operators in the region : partnerships in mobile advertising or Content distribution for your white-label social media platforms? explain please?
More to come on this later, but surface to say we have a large number of social media applications that drive mobile revenue from SMS Services, MMS Services, Mobile Location Based Services, Content Consumption and Application Notification – Our focus is to the VAS (Value Added Service) provider of a mobile operator * Run all of these cool social media applications branded under your mobile brand and share the revenue whilst generation more data traffic and revenues and of course and most importantly providing really super cool applications for your users.
AC: So your white label Social Networking platform is B2C (business to consumer) not E2E?
Its B2B B2C C2C E2E – depending on the client requirement.
AC: In the platforms and services you listed , you said it is done with partners? what does that mean are they joint ventures, or they pay you?
They are customers – our customers are always partners because although they pay for the platform we then introduce them into the network.
AC: Mobile Location Based Services: you will develop mobile location based social network whitelabel platform? or what?
Nope this markets gone – We will integrate into the LBS platform of an operator and use data to trigger actions for a clients service – that’s a future, data correlation for social media is also very interesting – putting the them all together where a company can use standard open source product, plus some of our software, plus some services to for example send a user a message (That they want and have requested) when they walk past a store (that they are interested in) to send them a special offer or provide them with a loyalty benefit is very very interesting – with the large amount of data volume correlation is going to be very critical.
AC: You developed MINT CMS in what Language ? PHP 5 MySQL? .Net?
Its PHP based LAMP Environment with the CMS based on the popular Joomla CMS – MINT is a fork of Joomla – We are also porting our community engine to.
AC: What about SODA CMS? also i need a link to SODA CMS website.
Soda we haven’t published information yet – but Soda contains our community engine and database structure which is H2O developed software.
AC: Hosting for both? SaaS? self hosted? or both?
It’s a SaaS platform – both platforms are SaaS.
AC: Can you send me the list of the key features?
Community Website – SMS Engine – Location Based Services Platform – Plus H2O free fields data structure based on SQL .
AC: What is your Social Networking platform key advantage to your global competitors? ex: Drupal, SharePoint, Mazinga, Awareness , Socialtext, socialcast?
We don’t view these as competitors – We are currently working at porting our social engine and data services to Drupal and EZ Publish – The CMS is really independent.
AC: How did you came up with the idea of H20 New Media? Do you have co-founders? if so who?
We started an open mic in Dubai to provide a place for original music artists to play their music, then we developed a social community for that – then people asked us to develop their social communities – that’s how H2O was started.
AC: When you started H20 new media what type of funding did you use? self, angel? and how much?
My own personal funding, around 500,000 USD give or take.
AC: What was your biggest challenge when you started?
Finding the right qualified and committed staff was the biggest challenge – Cashflow Cashflow Cashflow is the next – getting a balance on cashflow is the most important thing to get right.
AC: Where you from originally? UK?
Yes from the UK, been in the region for 5 years this time, spent quite a lot of time in Oman, France and Trinidad before that so I would say more global than British these days 😉
AC: As an English entrepreneur in the Arab world, did/do you face any difficulties?
No but then I am quite Arabised in the fact that I have been and grown up in the region when I was very young.
AC: H20 is profitable now?
Yes H2O is profitable on paper – that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to watch it like a hawk to ensure that it stays that way.
AC: What advice do you offer Arab tech entrepreneurs?
Be very careful of people that say they will help you and then charge high rates for their services, we had a potential Investor turn into a company that just sold is overpriced consultancy – watch cashflow and ensure you implement core systems such as CRM and finance.