Eleven years after the founding of Facebook, we have all seemed to develop a love/hate relationship with the social network. What if there was a better option that focused on relationships first – probably the real reason you joined Facebook in the first place? That is where the recently-launched social network Vero comes in. Now available for free on the app store, this social network provides simplicity, usability, and design in an experience that isn’t overwhelming but rather simply intuitive and ad-free.
Presently, there are six types of posts (Photos, Links, Music, Movies, Books, and Places) on the platform that can be easily shared across the or to specific groups via easy to understand privacy settings. The app also allows you to curate content by assembling “collections” which serve as a repository for your favorite items that you can easily access when you need it without fumbling around.
Recently, Ayman Hariri, CEO and cofounder joined us at our offices to tell us more about how the app works, the vision for the social network, the company, and about the future of social networking.
Tell us about the product or service.
Vero is a relationship-first social network, revolutionizing and humanizing the way we communicate online and replicate levels of familiarity and comfort with different audiences whether they’re your family, college roommates, coworkers or acquaintances. We are challenging the one-size-fits-all friendship settings of other social networks and providing a platform where you can easily protect, share, and collect important information from the important people in your life.
How is it different? Why another social network?
Vero serves the needs and desires of people who want a safe, genuine reflection of their real life relationships in an online setting – allowing you to express yourself online in a natural way. In the age of over-sharing, Vero delivers a true connection with the people that matter to you and a level of permanence in a fleeting social environment.
Vero helps you identify connections in loops defined as ‘Close Friends,’ ‘Friends,’ and ‘Acquaintances.’ By defining your relationship with your connection off the bat, you immediately have a sense of what is appropriate and not appropriate to share with that particular audience loop. With Vero, you are in the driver’s seat on what information you want to share and who you share it with.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We’re diving into the world of social media and it’s certainly a big, audacious goal to break through the noise there, but we think there’s a strong need for individuals to humanize their online relationships.
What is the business model?
We plan on being a subscription-based model. Vero will be free for each user for one-year and then we will implement a small annual fee.
As an ad-free network, we wanted to provide a clean platform that allows user to feel at ease when sharing with their friends. Ads affect the user experience in a negative way and ruins the design aesthetic of any app; we want the users to control their own conversations. Your data will never be for sale on Vero.
What inspired the business?
Social networking is broken; it no longer keeps communication at its core. The way we communicate in the real world is not through a soapbox for you to broadcast your opinions on. In life, we interact and communicate with balance of some broadcasting and some listening.
You should be able to enjoy your online interactions and right now you can’t. We aim to change that.
How are you leveraging your past business experience into this new venture?
I have a strong background in developing strong leadership teams and managing projects. My father once told me – as soon as you think you know everything, you know nothing. He encouraged me to keep learning and ask lots of questions.
I’ve never been more passionate about anything I’ve ever worked on before. With my background in Computer Science and my personal vetted interest in the technology space, I am looking forward to growing not just a product, but a successful company with a great team in place.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
In the next six months, we look forward to inspiring and acquiring new users and providing a place for them to engage and share information. We will also be rolling out the app in new markets and expanding our global presence, as well as introducing new features.
What is the one piece of business advice that you never got?
Surprisingly, I felt very prepared to kick off this company. Before jumping into this, I aligned myself with numerous mentors and advisors and thought very hard about the company we wanted to launch.
No matter what you do to prepare yourself, there’s always the unexpected when you’re starting something new. Our team plans on tackling this as we would with any project – with a clear mind and very thought-out.
We learn from our mistakes and have built a knowledge base where we’re now seeking opportunities to invest in our goal of building a company, not a product.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Oh man, there are just too many good answers here! When you think of influential individuals in New York community, there are so many creative minds and unique people, but I’m going to say: Anna Wintour.
I would love to pick Anna’s brain on the design aspect of the app. Anna is a tastemaker in so many industries — fashion, arts & culture, books, food — her opinion really matters. One of our goals was to design something sleek; I’ll be bold enough to even say that we designed something that felt almost as a fashion accessory for your iPhone.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York and the US overall provides a very technology forward market, full of engaged users who are interested in social networking and the latest in social media apps.
We wanted to tap into a saturated market, while simultaneously integrating new user feedback and expanding our global reach by rolling out in other markets throughout the world.
What’s is your favorite restaurant in the city?
There are just too many delicious places to eat in NYC to claim one as my favorite, but I will say that I can never come to the city without a stopping for a bite at Burger Joint. I would have never known about it without the recommendation of one of my cofounders – who, of course, has also recommended it on Vero.