With the increasing popularity of the live streaming function nowadays, it is hard to not give it a try with the social media apps on your phone. You update your friends or fans about your current whereabouts, lunch situation, live basking, or a short snippet of a crazy concert you’re in. Homegrown live streaming startup platform BeLive leverages on this technology and encourages live streaming as an important tool for social engagement and content distribution. We spoke to Kenneth Tan, CEO, and co-founder of BeLive and learned a bit more about this rising star in the digital scene.
Hi Kenneth, can you share with us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Kenneth Tan, and I’m the co-founder and CEO of BeLive. BeLive is a live streaming platform that is homegrown, developed in Singapore and Mediacorp has taken a small stake in us.
How do you define BeLive’s existence?
So we believed that live streaming is the content distribution platform of the future. So live streaming is relatively new in Southeast Asia, and we saw a market gap where very popular live streaming apps in China, Korea, Japan have taken off but surprisingly Southeast Asia has been a little late to the party. So we saw an opportunity and that’s where we founded BeLive and that’s why it exists.
Describe BeLive in 3 words.
Social, Live, Streaming.
In Your Opinion: What is the Future of Video Technology?
We believe that video in the future would be searchable, highly customizable, immersive. So if you think about it in a sci-fi kind of way, it’s kind of like holographs, so what we believed is that video in the future will no longer be passive consumption. Consumers will be able to interact with whatever they are seeing, and I believe that live streaming has already kind of showed us a few hints of how the video would be like in the future. So you imagine when you’re watching your favorite show, you can interact with your live broadcaster, whoever it is speaking on the television, and you can purchase the clothing or whatever he or she is wearing on the show. We believe that is it very exciting. Live streaming or live commerce is something you really want to test a lot. Holographs I’ve mentioned, where people being popped up and larger than live, that will be happening. It’s not only me who’s saying this, there’s actually a group of Irish researchers, who have said that scientifically it is possible in the next 20 or 30 years.
Any piece of advice to young budding entrepreneurs?
I would say the most important piece of advice is never to give up. I believe that every setback teaches you how to become stronger, and when we started BeLive there was actually a couple of really bad periods where we almost shut down the company, and it was thanks to obviously my team, friends, and family that we managed to pull through. So when you hit a very tough road block, please don’t give up. Take a break, speak to your friends, your close and loved ones, most importantly discuss with your team, don’t ever keep everything to yourself. We are a startup, we’re not like a big company so there’s no point hiding information. Your team members might have some insights that you’ve never thought of. So actually there’s a real life example where I discussed with my operations manager, and we came up with a solution that actually got us quite a bit of traction in the platform, and that would never have happened if I have kept all these negative thoughts to myself, and we pulled through. Just seek advice, and don’t give up.
The BeLive Team. Photo Credits: Kenneth Tan
Where will BeLive be in 5 years?
Hopefully, we will be on the smartphones on every Asian, or even, every single person in the world, and people who are inherently already watching YouTube, or consuming video content on Facebook, they will consider BeLive as an alternative form of entertainment. An alternative way of connecting with their friends and fans on social media. We hope to be the forefront of the live streaming revolution.
Share with us an inspirational quote that you live by.
This is actually a quote by Mary Kay Ash, might not be relevant but “Everybody has a sign hanging in front of them that says: Make Me Feel Important” So, this is what we believed that is important for everybody, every single human being in the world. What happens is if you make your customer feel important, in the sense that you interact with him or her, personally, it makes them feel that there’s a human touch to the service, and that actually is where most of the consumers come back, because they feel that the app has a human side. Our moderators or our customer support officers are really friends with many of them. So, that’s what social networking is about, and we believe live streaming is a very strong social lubricant, so that could actually mean a lot to my team, to make everybody in our app, or in the team, feel important.
BeLive moving forward:
So what BeLive does is we actually focus a lot on quality and curation, so if you’ve ever watched a live stream video, it’s really difficult to get into right from the start. Most of them focus on the live streamer themselves, and you’re not sure what he or she is talking about, until maybe you are 1 or 2 minutes into the stream, and you catch on. So what we do is we actually curate the content, and feature only the best content, in categories that are relevant to the viewer. So for example, if you’re looking for a place to visit, travel wise or a place to eat, there will be live streamers in those categories that will be talking about their favorite café, their favorite place that they want to visit during their wanderlust. So that’s where we think we stand out from the crowd, and our community is a very encouraging community. They have been a lot of huge success in live streaming apps in Southeast Asia in the past year also. What we’ve been seeing with those apps and with the success of these apps is, the community becomes increasingly more and more toxic, because of the heavy focus on monetization. So these live streaming apps focus very heavily on getting viewers to give virtual gifts to the streamers, and as a result, it obviously takes a huge cut which is 80% of a standard for live streaming apps. We do not really promote much on virtual gifts, I mean we do have that feature, what we really want to encourage is mostly quality content creation, and that’s where I think sponsors already see the value in us, because we’ve already worked with some big name sponsors like Square Enix, which is responsible for the final fantasy series. They actually saw value in the quality of our streams, and they announced the huge game update on our app exclusively which was something that has never been done before in their history. So, this could only happen when live streamers and viewers alike in the community have a shared purpose to connect, and not just to sit there and ask for gifts, and behave in a negative manner to streamers who might not be as good looking, or entertaining. Because that’s what we’ve been seeing a lot in our competitors.
For more information, visit www.BeLive.sg or download their app on the app store now.