Though a small company, Silicon Valley-based Blyve has attracted big brands eager to leverage the real-time audience engagement platform since exiting beta in early 2013.
Recently, it announced several rounds of new features that are once again catching the eye of brands large and small.
Blyve allows brands to engage in moderated, curated online events with their audience using a Q&A workflow. Rather than wall off these events where the target audience may fail to discover them, Blyve integrates with a brand's existing social outlets. This is a feature that the company believes sets them apart, allowing brands to cross-pollinate conversations on Blyve to different networks while driving traffic and increasing brand awareness in the process.
"Companies spend a tremendous amount of time, money and effort building their social network presence," CEO Ramsey Ksar tells me in a phone conversation. "We make it easy for them to recruit their existing audience into their Blyve session seemlessly."
Ksar came to Blyve in 2008 after his former colleague at Yahoo, Rich Garcia, stumbled onto the idea while seeking a way to share live play-by-play of his daughter's soccer matches on a device of his choosing. After teaming up with serial entrepreneur Jeffrey Cohen in 2007, the pair brought on Ksar as CEO in 2008 and added John Gregorski as lead architect.
"The beauty of having Rich (Garcia), myself and John (Gregorski) being all ex-Yahoo's is that we live in the world of real-time applications," says Ksar, who managed a social platform team at the Internet giant and oversaw the unification of the many social components of the platform.
Taking the lead from that experience, the Blyve team set about creating a base platform that would act as a foundation, ushering in additional features suitable for different markets and clients over time. From polls, coupons and single sign-on (SSO) to in-screen advertising and multi-domain flexibility, brands have an array of options that continue to grow to suit their needs.
Recently, it teamed up with TNA Wrestling whose live Spike TV event allowed real-time fan interaction and conversation courtesy of Blyve. Fresh on the heels of that partnership, the company recently released LiveBoards under the radar, a second screen feature that provides an enhanced viewing experience.
Ksar says the company has been careful to focus on its four key tenets that guide the features that it offers: moderation, curation, collaboration and monetization.
Blyve's revenue model is subscription based. Brands purchase a mid-size or enterprise monthly service that offers more features and greater scalability; a free option targets individuals and personal brands. According to Ksar, the company is quietly unveiling a pay-as-you-go option, as well, which may make Blyve more relevant to interested brands with occasional events.
Blyve's scalability is something that the team is most proud of. "Thanks to cloud services, we can increase capacity immediately which is something we built in to the workflow," says Ksar. "Some days we have a lot of participants, and other days not. So we need to be elastic in both directions; that's really important in terms of online events."
The company may still be small and scrappy (it employs seven engineers and a sprinkling of sales and marketing and advisors), but it's attracting a growing list of large clients including Walgreens, Arena Football League and The L.A. Times. Other clients leverage the platform for novel ideas, such as political campaigns and town hall meetings.
Many brands are attracted to the moderation tools available on the platform. Such was the case when the Shell Oil Company approached Blyve wanting to host a public discussion on the future of energy. Though they initially had concerns about brand liability often encountered on other social outlets, they leveraged the platform's extensive tools to moderate conversation and direct specific questions to remotely looped-in executives who could best address them in a seemless fashion.
Seeking Series B funding to take their game to the next level, Ksar reflects on what his company has been able to do just a year after exiting beta. Pausing, Ksar tells me, "Blyve is the ultimate way to get the engagement you want in a safe, moderated manner."
Have you used Blyve as a brand or consumer? Let us know in the comments. Note: the author is not affiliated with the spotlighted company in any way.