The Evly interview with Eric Edelstein and Eran Eyal

Our second Bandwidth blog interview (previously we interviewed Motribe) is with Eric Edelstein and Eran Eyal of Evly. Evly launched to much hype (by the founders account) and debate late last year. Some observers felt they launched too soon and that their product was nowhere close to being public beta ready. Others believe they are onto something big and hailed it another feather in the Silicon Cape cap.
We get into the minds of the Evly founders and ask them to back up their loud and proud “˜36 million users in 18 months‘ goal, what the initial up take of Evly has been and what their future plans are, especially in terms of their product road map and venture funding.
Eric and Eran have previous experience with online startups including Springleap, a 3 year old, 25,000 user large T-Shirt community with crowd sourcing elements similar to USA pioneer Threadless. Springleap laid the groundwork for their crowd sourcing platform and served as the ultimate case study for them to derive experience from to execute on their Evly ambitions. (Although Springleap‘s tech has yet to go into the Evly platform, there are plans for its implementation in the future.)
Evly‘s core focus is to solve problems. Enabling Joe Public to setup a crowd sourcing tool to use the wisdom of crowds of solve any problem, raise funds and/or even create your own Springleap.
With the likes of Quora taking off in a big way, Evly has a steep mountain to climb that won‘t get any easier. There is the risk that users won‘t find a need to create their own crowd sourcing site if a place like Quora does it all for them already.
Even though the site is in Alpha/Beta there will need to be significant improvements in order to take on the big guys and win.
It is still very much early days for the project and we wanted to know what, when and how.
Since the intention of Evly is to crowd source opinions. We would love to hear yours in the comments. Tell us what you think! Press play below.

Previous interviews – Motribe founders Vincent Maher and Nic Haralambous

  1. A few thoughts here.
    One: good going on doing something and building something. It’s an experience which everyone in life should try at some point in the other. There are downs but these are easily outweighed by the ups.
    Two: you need to set realistic goals if you want people to invest serious money in the short, medium and long-term. Going to a VC and saying that for $5mil you’re going to bring in 36 million users in 18 months just doesn’t add up. Nevermind the mathematical theory. If it was as easy as that there would be hundreds of thousands of successful startups out there. As you know, the exact opposite is true. You can’t just take for granted that every user who sets up a site will spawn 4 new copycat sites. That’s not realistic and something you’re going to consistently struggle with when presenting to serious investors.
    Three: the biggest question, and one you haven’t answered here, is how you plan to make money here. Even if you do reach the 36 million users, what does that mean in terms of revenue? Are you going to be purely ad-based or introduce various user tiers? What’s the plan?
    Four: what about mobile? You’re spending a lot of time on building your website but if you’re going to take another year to perfect it and leave out mobile, you might be leaving the majority of the connected world behind you.
    Five: Eric, you raised the point about feedback being personal or hurtful – some people still remember the way that you aggressively confronted the Yeigo guys in a public 27 Dinner presentation some years ago. It’s not a nice way to deal with feedback or people – especially when it’s public.
    Six: I think the way you’re selling Evly’s features is too broad. You said in this video that people could actually set up a site like Groupon via Evly if they wanted to. Looking at the site, I just don’t see it. Maybe that’s where you’re going, but putting up a billboard on the N1 saying that you’re a steakhouse when in fact the people who come to your restaurant can only order fish for the next six months is a mistake. Manage people’s expectations.
    Seven: Confidence is great but humility is the best weapon out there. Put your heads down, work hard and prove your points through your product rather than through quotes in books about being embarrassed about what you’ve put out. I would be embarrassed to ever aim to be embarrassed.
    Eight: good luck. Sincerely. Everyone who works hard deserves to be rewarded.

  2. Great interview Charl. Love your work. (me = fanboy)
    Here are my thoughts on the interview.
    1: Eran seemed to dodge some of the questions around Springleap. Are they profitable? Is it a sustainable business?
    2: There obviously has been some good press around Evly, but you can’t deny there hasn’t been any negative publicity. Evly is all about crowd sourcing, so implying the negative press hasn’t come from any “authoritative” sources, is taking quite a big stab at your users who ultimately will make Evly into that top 5 tech company in the world. You also mention Silicon Cape community should back you, but if they do raise issues with Evly, listen to them. We trying to protect our back yard by cleaning it up first before inviting the neighbours (international VC’s etc) round.
    3: Eric did at least mention the existence of the negative press, but Eran said everything was positive. Care to explain how that works?
    4: I like the fact you have gone balls to the walls with saying you going to have 36 million users in 18 months and in 5 years will be up their with Google and Facebook (I.E. a 50 billion dollar company). It’s great to set lofty goals, but with one of the flagship VC invested companies FireID going under, us South African startups need to be weary about just throwing numbers and dreams around. We don’t have much of a reputation to protect, so we very much trying to build it.
    Kudo’s to both of you Eric and Eran. You guys are definitely pushing hard and I wish you all the best. Show dem.

    1. 1: Springleap is a break-even/ profitable business after just under 3 years and is sustainable. Some months we sell 1500 tees… other months we sell thousands. We also earn revenue from hosting competitions for corporates and sell promotional companies t-shirts, do production for them and more.
      Springleap will really come into it’s own this year.
      A. We are about to launch new products in the next coming weeks. Expect a site with WAY more options, more challenges, tighter knit, geo-targetting and more.
      B. We are in discussions with 2 of the MAJOR chains to get design products on their shelves across the country.
      C. New resellers both local and abroad joining fast
      D. More corporate competitions coming
      2. Jason – totally right. We are definitely not insinuating that the international community are the only people who understand what we are doing, nor are we in the habit of cultivating and engendering sycophants.
      We actually received some amazingly positive comments from people like Vinny, Justin and more who came to our offices to see the vision of what we are building. All I insinuate is that it is early days, and to best see what we are planning and why we launched what we did – takes time in explanation and discussion.
      On the matter of negative publicity – it has actually all being overwhelmingly POSITIVE. We have manages to get strong opinions on what to correct, build and so forth. We have crowdsourced hundreds of major bugs, feature and UX/UI requests. Dave, who gave us some very insightful strong comments, has since come to our offices to help us make sure that what we deliver in Feb is what people want and is easy to use (Dave, Mark – aka Obox – thanks guys – your help has been nothing short of AMAZING.) Just talking to you right now through this medium helps us to question every step we take and get our game to the next level. – we will do the Silicon Cape community proud and deliver something exceptional. I just takes time.
      3. I am a very positive chap. I like to see the world in this manner : I can go mope and cry about what people say, or thank them for their effort to help us improve and find a way to include them and work with them for the betterment of all. I prefer the latter rather than the former as my world-vision. When people voice strong opinions, they do you a MASSIVE favour. They pour their time and energy into expressing their knowledge, wisdom and opinions. That is something you should be thankful for, in my humble opinion. So I see it as positive. Imagine no-one tells you what they really think and you don’t have that incredible opportunity?…
      4. True that. The story of FireID is a sad one for me. I know the passion, heart and dedication Justin and his team put into that company… and in retrospect – I think that you are correct. It is indeed hard to often predict the future, even when the math supports it. Often products take longer to get to their tipping point than initially anticipated… But we are confident. Perhaps 18 months is too ambitious or aggressive… but our team are going for it. “Balls to the walls”. Maybe we won’t reach that mark in time… maybe we exceed it. It’s hard to say and is quite dependent on us pushing out product which the world finds value in and is super easy to use. I hope that we achieve this scenario where we blow people’s expectations out of the water. (heck – perhaps even our own). The good news though is that our reputation is growing FAST (ie South Africa technology sector) and I have it in VERY good stead that States-based Silicon Valley and NY VCs are looking into SA VERY seriously this year. This is because South Africa is an amazing creative hub – no doubts in my mind on this. Look at the incredible people and companies in Cape Town alone : Guys like Charl Norman, Rob Stokes, Vinny Lingham,Justin Stanford, Eric Edelstein, You, Vincent Maher , Nicholas Haralambous (Motribe hit 500k users today!!!), the list is HUGE and inspirational.
      In summation – thanks once again for all your great insights and the opportunity to lend deeper clarity. I’m a pretty open book so don’t hesitate to ask anything! Thanks for awesome advice and wishes – they are returned a hundredfold. – and come visit sometime soon so we can show you some cool stuff and enjoy a great cuppa joe.

  3. I think its stupid to say that a ‘build it yourself’ style site will ever be a top 5 site globally. Look at Ning – a huge success story in terms of usage (nevermind their troubles to monetise) – they aren’t even in the top 100 sites on the internet.

    1. Hi Greg – I agree with you there. That is why the key to it all is the massive social network which allows the users to really interact in new ways and set out challenges in a scaleable intuitive manner – ranging from ones on their profile pages through to full robust sites.
      Look to the end of Feb when we hard launch with a platform which we feel is the seed of something quite special.

  4. Hi guys – going to try answer each of the questions starting from the simplest to the most in-depth.
    First off – video interviews are HARD 😉 even when guys like Charl help make them feel smooth and easy (Which he made an exemplary effort in doing – thank you!)
    …So this sort of forum make is easier to get to nitty gritty issues.
    Thanks you also to anyone who takes the time to make comment, advise and question – I realise that this take precious time and effort, so I will try to do the best I can to answer the questions well.

  5. Four months later I don’t know if this will be read. I have not even looked at Evly yet (I keep wanting to say Elvy or Etsy :)) but have a dream of what I might like to do. I find your enthusiasm captivating and compelling – I do agree with perhaps tempering it w/ the realistic – however you must state your goals of x million by x date which is your reality: it’s YOUR goal. I only WISH I could come see you and have a cup of Joe in that fantastic place you have. I wish you all the success in the world and hope a few years down the road I’ll say “oh yeah Elvy” I once replied to a comment of the owner – and others will say “yeah right” ha! ha! ha! Go getem brother

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