Nick Desai is co-founder of Juice Wireless, a firm that runs JuiceCaster, a service that allows users to post their cell phone pictures to online social networking sites like MySpace, Flickr, and blogs. The firm is one of several developing mobile phone applications trying to tap into the popularity of social networking and photo sharing web sites. Ben Kuo spoke with Nick to get an update on the company and where it is with its service.
What is JuiceCaster?
Nick Desai: JuiceCaster is a social media application that is focused on the following tagline: Be the first to show, and the first to know. What it is all about is social media. Social networking and sites like Flickr and MySpace are all about building social currency--which is showing off your life, and being the first to do that. JuiceCaster brings social media to your mobile phone, iPod, computer, or website all at once, allowing you to be first. You can publish and integrate the social media in your life with your real life, because your cell phone is always with you, JuiceCaster is always with you, and that allows you to take a picture and publish it to your friends right away. Also, if they do something interesting, they can show you right away too.
Where'd the idea come from?
Nick Desai: Our CTO asked us a question in June of 2005, which was -- wouldn't it be cool to let people publish pictures and videos from anywhere? That evolved, and we looked at what was happening with social media. We saw that the web and phone were just access points and that you want to use them to get access to what you want. The problem with user generated content and social networking is that you live your life, and do interesting things, and then a day or two later you can eventually tell people when you have the time to post it to your web site. With JuiceCaster, your cell phone is always with you, and that's how you can integrate your online and real life.
Tell us a little bit about the company?
Nick Desai: Juice Wireless was founded in March of 2004 by myself and David Herman. For the first year and a half, we were doing contract mobile marketing projects--brands hired us for creating mobile applications, SMS, giveaways, and sweepstakes. We had a very successful business. However, once we launched JuiceCaster, we bet the company on it. We are based here in Los Angeles, and also have an office in New York City. We have 35 people in the company, with 24 in our office here near LAX.
What's the business model behind the application?
Nick Desai: On certain wireless operators, JuiceCaster is a subscription application people pay for. However, the real business model is supported by rich media targeted as on your phone.
How's the company supported financially?
Nick Desai: We're venture financed, largely by an East Coast venture fund called 21 Ventures.
How far along is your application, is it live yet?
Nick Desai: The application is live on three U.S. operator decks, some internationally, and also at JuiceCaster.com. It's free to sign up on JuiceCaster.com. We have 15,000 registered users, all in the last two months. We're now encouraging people to sign up. We want to take this incredible application, and turn it from 15,000 users to 15 million.
Do you see much competition in this space?
Nick Desai: There's a lot of interest in mobile social media on handsets, but in terms of the product, approach, and comprehensive nature of our product there isn't a great competitor.
Thanks for the interview!