Live streaming is one of the largest growing digital trends, with total hours viewing live content rising by 65% from 2017 to 2018. Leading platforms such as Twitch, YouTube Live, and Periscope are continuing to offer new and innovative ways to connect audiences with content and content creators, making it an incredible platform and opportunity for brands to enter the conversation as well. Nigel D’Souza saw this opportunity in the marketplace and developed Famerly, which won 2019’s ACCEL’s Student Pitch Competition. We recently had the chance to sit with Nigel and ACCEL coach David Cowdery to interview them about their experiences working on Famerly.
Questions with Famerly founder Nigel D’Souza
First off, congrats on winning the Student Pitch Competition! Can you describe Famerly in 10 words?
Influencer marketplace connecting livestreamers to brands.
What was the pitch competition experience like?
It was nerve wracking, but overall a great experience to get up there and talk about what you’re passionate about! From learning what to say to practicing in the mirror, and hearing feedback from the coach, it was just an overall great experience.
When did you start working on Famerly, and what differentiates it from similar services?
Since May 2019. Actually, no other service currently exists that caters towards Twitch. This concept (a marketplace connecting influencers and brands) was lifted and developed for live streaming.
Tell us about the challenges and opportunities of working on this project.
For the idea and digital product itself, a challenge was figuring out which was the right route for development. It was also important to prove the model was viable before it was built, and so a lot of research and cold calling was conducted. As well, finding the right team to build it was important, and finding ways to reach out to streamers and brands.
What does the future of live streaming services look like for you, and how will Famerly be a part of this?
Many brands are moving into creative and influencer marketing, and Twitch influencers are poised to be the next generation of influencers. The element of “live” is largely missing from existing social media, and Twitch currently has a large market share for live streaming services, indicating a strong market opportunity for Famerly.
What were some of the ways that ACCEL supported Famerly’s journey?
I approached ACCEL in early September, and ended up meeting David Cowdery, who became my coach. David connected me to the right people, helped review my deck and financials, and supported me during the process of preparing for the pitch competition. He was able to connect me to Centennial College’s Technology Access Centre WIMTACH (Wearable, Interactive and Mobile Technology Access Centre in Health), my current investor, the University of Toronto, etc.
After winning the Pitch Competition, David connected me to WIMTACH to work on the development side internally through the school, which is our current ongoing project.
What’s next for Famerly?
Building, growing, generating revenue, and scaling. Currently focused on working on a viable product that brands and streamers can see!
Give us your best advice for other entrepreneurs!
Find a gap in the market, and take advantage of it. If you believe in your idea, stick with it. It is so important to take advantage of coaching, as it helps gain perspective on what you’re trying to build. Just because you see something one way doesn’t mean it’s the only way to see it, and having a coach can bring in a different perspective to the situation.
Questions with ACCEL Coach David Cowdery
What were your initial thoughts when Nigel presented this idea to you?
David: He presented one of the top ideas I’ve seen in the past few years, and it’s certainly one of the best researched and explained. I was impressed when I first met him, and did what I could do to connect him with resources such as WIMTACH and a mentor.
Tell us what excites you most about this project.
David: This is the first tech software project here that I can see growing big fast, or blowing up.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities supporting this project?
David: It’s actually the opposite–this project is not challenging because Nigel knows what he’s doing. If I don’t know something about the platform, Nigel teaches me about it to the point where I can form an opinion on what he’s doing. I think his greatest challenge is convincing the brands to use the platform.
Do you have any advice for Nigel moving forward, or advice for other entrepreneurs in the initial stages of their entrepreneurial journey?
David: A lot of people say you have to have passion, but I don’t think that’s true–I think you need drive. Drive matters, and if you don’t have drive, your idea won’t happen. Getting a coach and industry specific mentors is important once you get started because it’s hard to work alone. I also recommend the lean canvas methodology, as it forces those working in tech to step back and re-evaluate their idea to determine if their solution to a problem is a solution that someone actually wants.
Nigel: As well, no matter where you are in the entrepreneurial world, don’t let ego get to you. I’ve seen many projects and businesses fail due to ego, so it is important to manage it.