Centric App: Vincent Gibson
The entrepreneur talks about his video sharing platform, and how a Gumtree Glasgow listing followed by a blind date kicked off his start-up journey
Name: Vincent Gibson
Company Name: Centric App (ifussss llc)
Location: London and New York
Date Launched: 24/6/16
Number of Employees: 5
Twitter handle: @CentricApp
Tell us what your business does:
Centric App is a video discovery and sharing platform that matches video content from social platforms with local audiences. It grabs Twitter, YouTube and Periscope streams and sorts them by location to show what’s happening around you.
Want to know what’s going on right now all over London? Or see what you’re missing around you during a festival at Glastonbury? Open the app, wherever you are, and you will see the latest and nearest videos uploaded across the three networks. Some are live; some have just been recorded.
Centric App’s map slider seamlessly filters and users can explore content according to their chosen radius – as close as street level and as far as 22 miles.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
In 2010, a listing on Gumtree Glasgow entitled “I have an idea for a video business anyone interested in hearing it?” caught my eye and led me to my first and only blind date.
I met Edward Brooks in “Little Italy”, Byres Road in Glasgow. Ed worked in outsourcing, I had been working at the digital coalface since the 90’s with a short deviation to launch a successful social enterprise start-up in between times.
We both saw a future in location based video sharing
How did you know there was a market for it?
Mobile is driving UK and international ad spend growth; mobile is expected to overtake TV and desktop spending this year.
What were you doing before starting up?
I am a designer, developer and latterly a consultant in digital production. And for the last 20 years have been working in agencies, studios, tech start-ups, advertising and media organisations with commissions from BBC Scotland amongst others.
In the few years before launching this start-up I was playing with other ideas to see if they would fly. They didn’t! I have also served as a lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University – Glasgow and London campuses, specializing in online branding and digital trends.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I’m an opportunistic creative, I’ve always enjoyed taking ideas from paper to development to market and making them work. It never really bothered me who was “in charge”.
I like change and the thrill of it all. If someone had described that as “running your own business” to me when I was younger, I’d have run a mile. But here we are. Funny that.
How did you raise the money?
In 2013, we launched ifussss (yes, four s’s), an app that also focused on video filtered by location. We built it, we pulled resources, called in favors and made a ton of mistakes (still making them) but we got a working demo.
After an ill-fated attempt to get Scottish Enterprise interested we made the decision to raise private money in New York City if we could. The start-up and investment culture is collaborative and positive, fail friendly and most importantly inclusive.
We found an Angel and were very lucky that he saw this as being a long journey. I took over running the company that we created to New York, split my time between Glasgow and New York. We built a team that became a small part of the New York ecosystem.
We launched products, we failed but we learned. We pitched for investment. We failed. We raised some more, we pivoted, we created a new product and we began to get it right. We finally launched our latest incarnation Centric App last month. We are just about to announce our new funding round.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We have some fresh ideas around monetization and advertising – e.g. incentivizing users to share content rather than see ads. To create their own location based ads and to push brands to create content that's not seen as straight forward advertising and can be clever enough to tie into local feeds (think Snapchat filters). We are keen to see if these are picked up or fall flat!!
Along more traditional lines, Centric will offer non click through/opt in advertising options to users and brands and non-obtrusive options to smaller businesses at a local level. We are proposing a mix and match subscription and royalty model revenue option for content creators.
With growth Centric App can go on to work as a distribution platform with different networks for different domains e.g. Campus.Centric, different products e.g. Centric Podcasts and all location based media aggregation.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Apart from the technical challenges of building any platform or application, I guess the biggest challenge is keeping the burn down but still trying to make a quality product and take it to market against far larger and far better financed competitors.
Many people seem to think that the goal of a start-up is to raise money. It’s not, it’s to build a sustainable product that can eventually make money and pay back and reward the people who showed faith in you.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Watching the analytics and noticing the same people come back every day and using the app. As soon as you see that, you know you have a product and you know you can scale.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Listen to advice then listen to your gut. If in doubt always go with the latter.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
Doing this better.