Feb. 3, 2021

Mady Dewey: How to Fix Social Media with Herd's CEO


Mady Dewey is a California native and the Co-founder of Herd, a new social media platform aimed to eliminate comparison and get back to authentic creativity

Herd App: https://www.theherdapp.com/

Herd's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/herd.app/

Herd's TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@herd.app?lang=en

Mady's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/madydewey/

Chapter Markers/Timestamps: 

  • 00:00 - Introduction - Mady Dewey
  • 02:35 - Early beginnings of Herd and "The Social Dilemma"
  • 06:35 - Negative attributes of social media and numerical gratification
  • 09:30 - Technological blackouts and tackling social media addiction
  • 15:15 - Fostering community in a digital environment
  • 19:50 - How Allie and Maddie met and formulated/brainstormed Herd
  • 29:34 - How Herd fosters authenticity and creativity
  • 35:23 - The Entrepreneur Mindset
  • 41:25 - Future plans for Herd and social media's integration with Gen Z

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Transcript

Hello friends. Hope you're all having a wonderful day so fa. I'm Ryan Mu and welcome to Unmuted Generations. Each episode, we focus on expanding our horizons and personal knowledge of the world to cultivate a happy and healthy lifestyle. My guest this week is none others and Maddie Dewey. She is the co-founder and CEO of Herd a new social media platform being released later on this year, focused around eliminating comparison, upholding community, and really getting back to authentic creativity.

 

Individuals in the U S spend close to two hours per day on social media and not all of those activities are always really healthy. So I'm glad there are individuals like her who are in this new technological space, trying to fix things in a more ethical sense. Anyways, welcome to the podcast, Maddie.

 

Thank you so much for coming on. 

 

Thank you. I'm so excited to be here. This was awesome. 

 

I really appreciate it. In lieu of our podcast episode, I rewatched the social dilemma. Once again, today.

 

Yeah. It's you know, if anybody who's listening, haven't watched it before. I highly suggest you watch that. It's like my top two next to like Icarus. If you've heard that one, 

 

I haven't, 

 

I should, Hey, Chris is a documentary about like doping, like when they were having the U S. Bikers and Lance Armstrong and the races, basically there was a biker who was like, I understand that in these biking races, there are a lot of people who don't like pretty much the top 20 people were doping and they were cheaters in a way.

 

So he contacted somebody and he was saying, how exactly do I like game the system? How do I dope to win? And the guy pretty much helped them and it shows that's what the movie shows. And there was a big scandal behind it. Particularly with Russia and stuff. But the reason why I mentioned that is because in terms of the social dilemma and Icarus, they both kind of pull back the curtain on things that are actually occurring.

 

And the social dilemma particularly focuses on the, behind the scenes of like social media. You know, at the very start, there's a quote that Socrata, he said, and he said nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse. And it gives a. Pretty detailed explanation of tech exacts on social media.

 

And I'm just curious, in terms of the movie and stuff, I'm sure that didn't necessarily inspire you to start the up, but what, where did like the first personal beginning and the first thought come from. 

 

Yeah, social dilemma. We can talk about how that kind of played into the whole story of Herd, but for us we, Allie, my co-founder and I had been thinking about starting something related to social media back at the beginning of 2020, we were like, there's just so many platforms.

 

Like they're not all doing it. Right. We feel like we have to go to Snapchat for this or Instagram for this, or tick-tock for this. And can we get it all at one point, but as we were moving on with just. Thinking about what that would look like. There was no real passion or purpose behind it. And so eventually we just kind of gave up, but where Herd was born was back in March.

 

I found myself on my phone. So much because of the pandemic and the fact that I was living alone and I had a bunch of extra free time on my hands. And so I would just be on that endless scroll up Instagram of people that I knew, people that I didn't know, going down their profile, looking at all of their pictures from like the last five years.

 

And the more and more time I was spending on Instagram, the worst I was feeling about myself in my life. And. Previously, I had never really felt like I fell into social comparison to that degree. And so it was a new experience for me and I one morning called Alli and was like, why, why do I feel this way?

 

I feel so bad about myself. And every time I go on Instagram, I feel worse. She was like that same, like I also, and so we were like, okay, let's. Let's make ourselves feel better. So we went down this whole self-help rabbit hole of Google searches to see like, okay, how do we make our mornings better and more mindful?

 

And every piece of advice was saying, remove social media, eliminate that from your, your life, your morning, your phone. And that was really the foundation of why we decided to make Herd. You both have backgrounds, not in, in tech working like as a technological founder, but. Working in the tech industry.

 

And we're like, if we, if tech can be anything we want it to be. And social media as a term can be, we can define what social media is. Why have we let it have such a negative definition? And so that kind of kicked off in March and we really just said a good few months. Talking about what we wanted to see in the world versus, okay.

 

What's a platform that could make money. We just were like, we're two users. We know that our friends interact with social media at the same way. If we just look at everything, that's toxic, look at all of the research, figure out how it ended up to this place. Then maybe we can then design around it. And that's kind of, it's funny because the idea for Herd really solidified and we started talking about it with friends and family, and then the social dilemma came out within a few weeks and it was so nice because it was talking about how toxic things were on a different degree that we really hadn't publicly spoken about, but we were aware of none.

 

So this mass awareness around technology and what it was doing to us and the fact that people who designed it. In the first place didn't know that this was what was going to happen, but there to indeed to fix it. It was a good eye-opener for everyone. 

 

That's a really good point because I think in the movie specifically, it talks about like, The people that are like, we didn't intend to create it this way.

 

Like when I first got on social media, when I was like a younger teen and stuff, my whole thing was like, okay, my space.com have like playlist.com and put the music I like and, and decorate it with a cool screensaver or background photo. And now it's turned into like pretty much an addicting negative.

 

Media outlet almost, where there's fake news everywhere. There's comparison. Lots of comparison. Then I like, I like how you brought that up because one thing I wanted to bring up is it's not just like comparing your success to your own as people like normally think, but now it's turned into something like, okay, not just likes, but like comparing your ideals and like trying to reinforce.

 

Your, your perspectives on somebody and say, your way of thinking is wrong. And, and my way of thinking is right. 

 

Yeah. There's so many layers. So what you just said, I feel like there's one aspect of comparison where we're at now with social media, like 20 years ago. Yeah. Comparison has always existed.

 

You could compare yourself to the people in your lives or the people kind of remotely related to you, but you never at scale could compare yourself to someone. That lives across the world that you see in the same lens, as you would see your best friend, like when you go into an influencer's Instagram page, you know that you don't know them.

 

Like you can identify that, but the level to which you can compare them to a person in your real life is mentally like at the same place. And so we've never as humans experience the comparison at this scale. And then the other piece too. We'd always like we have never been able to compare something like creativity, like the things that we've put out into the world number by number.

 

So we've never been able to say, okay, this is something that I creatively have decided I want to bring to the world. There's something that I'm proud of. Now, let me measure that success in the form of numbers. And then also let me compare and decide if that was a valuable post. Numerical outlet. 

 

Yeah, that's really crazy to think about actually, because it's like, for example, somebody curates a piece of art, and they post that and they may get five likes and maybe like a beautiful piece of art, but you know, somebody else, they may spend like five minutes on something, get like an Instagram shout out from like a big influencer page, for whatever reason they may, that you can even buy shout outs now, it's crazy.

 

And it's just like a total false perception of reality. 

 

And what's hard is. As much as I think current platforms would like to course correct. They would like to say, okay, like Instagram was playing around with the idea of. Removing likes. I know that was something that they publicly talked about in Australia, right?

 

Yeah. And it hasn't worked like it hasn't been successful because we are so programmed on that platform to crave the numerical gratification we receive. So yeah, like we know that these things are toxic. We know that there are insanely talented people in the world who want to bring their creativity to the world, but because of the avenues that exist.

 

Feel limited to do so because they're not maybe going to get the shout out or they're not going to get the a hundred likes and then that's deemed embarrassing and they don't, they're unable to like put value behind the really great thing that they're making. 

 

Yeah. And that just leads to like hopelessness and worthlessness and feelings of that. And you brought up a really great point at the start with like a social media blackout, like personally, I've had two social media blackouts, one for a school experiment where. They just said, don't use social media for a week. We'll give you like 5% extra credit, which is like a lot of extra credit, you know, like for somebody just, and it was, I'm not going to lie.

 

It was kind of hard to do that. But the other time, which I thought was so crazy was when I broke my phone. So like I dropped it off at desk, the screen cracked, and I couldn't use it. Obviously I could access it via my PC, but most people I feel use it on their mobile device. And I was like, so. I need to get this fixed right now, because what if somebody messages me on Facebook?

 

What if somebody messages me on Instagram? And I found myself thinking this way and I'm like, Am I crazy or is this just like a normal thing? Like it's like a double-edged sword in a way. Did you ever have any experience with like social media blackouts and your own experience? 

 

Yes. Well, I've broken my phone many times because of you.

 

So I've had that same experience. I've also intentionally like put my phone on airplane mode. I'll do that every once in a while, because I have to either lock my phone away or put it out of sight if I want to. Actually practice that because I know I'm addicted and that's the problem is what you're talking about.

 

Like, Oh, did someone message me our whole brains? Like as much as we want to say, like we have self-control when it comes to something like social media that has been designed to be as addicting as a slot machine piece of it is made to make you feel worse and make you spend more time on the platform.

 

Only human nature to then crave going back to that because of the chemicals that it causes in your brain. Like it's really crazy when you think about how they've done so much research, like when Allie and I were developing Herd the amount of research at our fingertips was insane. All of it staying the same things, all of it saying which features are, are addicting, but the problem is current platform news, that insight they say, okay, this is addicting.

 

Let's do more of that. Instead of this is addicting. This is a problem. 

Correct, that's very true. And I think it's partially because with, with us as human beings, I don't know if there's a ticket all, but if I see something good, I'll say, okay, I'll just end it on this note. I'm kind of happy, but if I see negative stuff, it's like, I'm more tempted to click into that.

 

If I see something viral in terms of news and, and a great examples in the social media, when people say they tagged you in a post and stuff, Most of the time when I get tagged in a post I'm like, what did they post? Did they put something embarrassing about me? Do I look dumb or something like that?

 

So it's, it's really, really addicting. And this is kind of when you look at it, I think it's one of those things where as a society, we want to evolve as a species and say, Hey, this is like a big issue, but we can eventually through an enough mental willpower say. Stop, you know, not be as toxic, but that's not really a solution.

 

And we all know that on the inside, how were you able to kind of muster up the willpower and self-belief to tackle this issue? 

 

I wish I could just say, like, I just believed I could and I did, but a roller coaster of moments where I'm like, what am I doing? Why have I gotten myself into this? Am I the person to be doing this?

 

Like worked out at myself, then there's other moments where I'm like, why not. Why not be, I think, to give some context about just my experience. So I in college did a ton of leadership. So I've always felt really comfortable, like setting a vision and making people feel good about following that vision and having independence and doing that.

 

So I knew from a young age that I wanted to start something, a business of my own in any capacity, because leadership was something that I, I love doing. So the, the idea of like starting something, wasn't the scary part. I think where it became scary was I have a nine to five job and I had a really good nine to five job when we were first starting her.

 

And I wanted that stability of like a normal paycheck. I had been my entire life, like my. Mom, didn't get a college education. My dad worked while he was raising us to get his college degree at night and getting a stable job, took a lot of years for him. And so the fact that I had the stable job to my parents, it was like, Oh my gosh, you did, you did it.

 

That's the American dream. Right. Like you have secured this job. You'll be set if you stay there for the rest of your life and just work and be happy. And so for me, I think a big thing that I had to get over was setting my own idea of what I want for my life and saying like, my parents have been super supportive of me now, but being comfortable saying like I'm taking this risk on myself because I know that if I don't I'll kick myself for not starting.

 

Yeah. 

 

And what's the fun in life without a little unknown, right? I always say, I can work a nine to five job and potentially just grow my career out, but I don't want to be that guy at then does a day where all I do is focus on my nine to five and then I invest in my 401k.

 

And then after I'm like, what could I have done? You know, I'm on the beach and I'm sipping mojitos, but like, what's what. What's the difference I've made in this community and you seem like a very community oriented person. So like how important in your mind is it to really just foster a sense of community, especially through a medium is toxic is like social media at times.

 

I think the word community has transformed in the era of Instagram. Unfortunately, like I think that a lot of people want and focus on this idea of building community, but. On Instagram, like the influencer saying, like, I have this amazing community. It's like, okay, you have a hundred thousand followers.

 

And like, when you are showing them the best highlighted version of your life, and you are telling them to buy the sponsored products that you're posting and that's fine, but that's not a community. That's not really people supporting one another. That's people following a leader and. For me. I think what I find real value in is establishing communities for people that don't feel like they can find that in their real lives.

 

For me growing up, I never really felt like I had. Like a true, like strong female in business. Like my mom is amazing. She's a super woman, but she was a stay at home mom for most of her life. And so my, I didn't really have that like idea of like, okay, what is like a strong group of people that are like career oriented and women.

 

And when I got to college actually is when I found those communities and found communities of people who thought differently than I did, or about the same. And that I could really connect with and be authentic to who I was, but the value from those communities came from the support that I was able to get and the support that people were able to give me, it was this like reciprocal relationship and being able to come around and just like support one another for who we are as people.

 

So I think finding ways online, where you can really, the world is your oyster. You can connect with anyone. Using that technology and that connection to actually foster groups of people that not just want to like receive, but also give on an equal level. That's kind of the goal we have for her is where people are feeling like.

 

It's one whole community versus like, these are the 1% of people that have a ton of followers. We all follow these people and hope one day we can be like them and gain followers, which is kind of problematic. 

 

Yeah. I mean, that's a really good point. I think with communities, I always kind of analogize it to like a wedding.

 

Like if I have a wedding, I don't want a bunch of. Yes, men they're paid to even be at the wedding. It's like that old Josh GAD and Kevin Hart movie where Josh God was, is getting married and he hired Kevin Hart to be as best man and stuff. Like, I don't want that. I want to actual community where, like you said, reciprocate, reciprocates, and they call me out on my stuff.

 

I call them out on their stuff, but it's like an organic fun relationship and we can all be authentic with each other. And you made a really good point that. Communities have really just turned into pages with followers and a popularity contest in that aspect. And I really think that what you're doing with her is absolutely incredible.

 

Like, I know you were talking about a women empowerment. It did start out as like a woman's only up first, right? 

 

Yeah. So when you were initially. Trying to figure out when you're starting a platform that as broad as social media, you kind of need to have a specific problem that you're tackling. And for us, when we were doing the research and our personal experience, we were seeing so many numbers about how.

 

Women interact with media in a different way than men do. And the fact that all of the major social media platforms were founded by men and Allie and I are women. So that was initially like, okay, let's solve this problem for women. Let's eliminate the social comparison, have a place for women to empower one another.

 

But as we started talking about the idea and digging further into research, we recognize that this is not necessarily a women only problem. It's an everyone problem. And also for Allina, it's really important that people of all gender expressions and identities feel comfortable on our platform. And so by having just like a women only safe space, it might be making people who do not fall into that category who really desperately need that safe space.

 

I feel like they can't part of it. So we want to be a very inclusive environment. And part of that meant opening it up to everyone. 

 

Yeah. That's awesome. Or people who identify differently and now that's really, really good point. How did you and Allie meet, and how did you guys collaborate with each other?

 

Yeah. 

 

So funny enough, Allie and I met in college through. My boyfriend, her ex boyfriend, but our boyfriends at the time were very close friends and we would go on double dates and it was one of those things. I would always tell my boyfriend, Jack, like, Oh, I really like hanging out with Allie. Like, she's so fun.

 

I just have a great time with her, but kind of in different social groups in college. So we would only hang out when we were all. It was all four of us. Yeah. And then funny enough, I moved to Seattle for a job. This is about a year and a half ish ago coming up on two years and knew a few people from college, but wanted a few more new friends and Jack.

 

And I, it was either Jack, my boyfriend or someone else was basically like, Oh yeah, Allie is moving to Seattle, too. Same neighborhood as you. Two weeks after you connected. And she was like, yeah. And like a six minute drive away from your apartment. And so we went and went on like basically a little girl date just asked you as one of the first times, we'd only hung out just us and instantly it was like, okay, great.

 

So we're best friends now. Like we're going to go through this moving process and figuring out Seattle together. And that's really what happened. We basically did everything together. Either Allie and myself or Allie, my, myself and our friend Sydney just bopping around Seattle. And then the pandemic hit.

 

And Allie and I didn't live together, but we just made a pack that we would see each other only. And I think over the course of 2020 is when our friendship went from, like, we would hang out with each other all the time and we're really close to like, she's my ride or die, like my life without her in it.

 

So. That's beautiful. That's such like an organic, like like coincidentally friendship, I, I totally know what you mean because sometimes it's like, I have a friend who I, I love their boyfriend, like me and him get along like two peas in a pod. And it's like, I don't want to ask for her permission to hang out with her boyfriend.

 

Right, 

 

right. But it's nice. I think as an adult, it's harder to make friendships out of. College like real true friendships. Like most of my closest friends are people that I've known for a really long time at this point. So it was nice to meet someone who I felt like was on the same wavelength that I was, but also what is really nice throughout our friendship.

 

And now being in a business partnership, we both. Have the same values, the same core values and vision for Herd, but we have different skillsets and express ourselves in different ways. And we're able to candidly, pull each other where we need to and balance each other out and verbalize that because we feel so comfortable with one another.

 

So it's turned into like the most ideal business partnership that I could have asked for, which is great too. 

 

That's awesome. I mean, especially if you're tackling a, a social media platform where there's 3.5 billion users out in the world and that number is only growing. I mean, that's, that's really cool.

 

How do you guys turn, your idea of, I want to start this, just maybe on one of your, your girl dates to let's make this into an actual business and turn into an app. 

 

So Allie comes from more. So for context, Ali studied business and marketing in college. I studied film advertising and public relations.

 

So I came from more of a creative background. She came from more of a business background, but then in our careers, she took a much more of a business. Or a much more of a creative focus and I took more of a business focus. So I was working in ads, basically like helping large clients reach their business objectives through targeted search ads.

 

So we had this. Kind of good balance and experience. And I worked at a large tech company, and so I had been working with engineers to develop advertising products. So I kind of knew what it meant to like have a vision and work with technical people, even though I wasn't technical myself and Allie had a good kind of grasp on how to make that a market fit and how to ensure that we're like packaging it up in a way that's enticing to the people that we're trying to reach.

 

So for us, I think the process looked a lot different than how typical apps look typically, you would say, okay, I have this problem. I want this to be a solution. If I'm not technical, I'm going to find a technical counterpart or a developer. And we're going to work on a minimal viable product. And basically just like, put that out into a small group of a hundred people.

 

And if that works, then we'll go and get investment and go from there because social media. The way social media has been designed is so broken. We knew that the design could be more intentional upfront. We can just say, okay, like, let's try this and this and this, because that's how we got to where we are today.

 

And if we wanted it to be different and stand out from what's currently in the market, we needed to think through like the little details that people often don't think about at the beginning. So we started just kind of like. Ideating on different types of features. So like a homepage, a feed community boards, and then a profile, and just would talk through every detail, how someone could interact with that, how we can make it more fun, how we can make it less toxic.

 

And a lot of that was us. You're sending voicemails to one another, have this idea, or like, we'll get this really big idea and then we'd spend the next day just kind of fully. Going through it. And back in it was probably September is when we finally found a technical person to come onto our team. And we finally secured some level of funding to be able to do that.

 

So we had started talking about her and on pick talk in September. And that's what, how we like secured some investment funds was people finding out about it through tech talk, which is insane. Like. 2019. Yeah, I know. Oh, you're going to start an app and you're going to get funded from people that met you on tech talk.

 

I would've been like, what are you talking about dancing up, but basically we found this guy named Ryan and. We find them on Upwork, which is a great website to connect with freelancers and he just saw the vision. Got it. He has a great technical background and has been exactly what we needed to bring the idea into something that we can actually develop and do it at a small scale.

 

So we don't like blow through all of the money that we have to do this. And then bring, we brought on a designer named Samantha. About a month ago to do all of the wire framing and the design aspects to get us to our beta, which was launching February. So it's been a lot of learning. We've had a lot of nos in raising money.

 

We've had a lot of mean people come at us for what we're building, unfortunately, but the positive definitely outweighs the little bits. You know, negativity we've received. Honestly, it kind of is like a good thing. It's assuring when people are telling you, you can't do something and you know, you can, because it's like, okay, I'm going to prove you wrong.

 

Yeah. It's like a chip on your shoulder. That's so weird though, that like there's people who are saying, wow, like what are some of the negative things that they're saying? 

 

It's we get mostly negativity from other. People that are founding platforms or so some times we get fun DMS from people that are saying like, this is never going to be possible without advertisements, because we've been very bold and saying like, we're not going to have ads on the platform.

 

So we've received quite a few dams with people being like, well, how are you going to monetize? How are you gonna do that? And we're like, we're two business women. Like we, we know how to monetize something without making it ad centric. And we'll figure it out as we go. And then the other piece has been just some people that are like, I don't get how this is different.

 

And I think most of the time that comes from people who are in our target market. We're really looking for people that are interested in posting more than they currently do, but feel that they can't express themselves because they, they are scared or they don't want to be an influencer. And we're also looking for the people that left all of the social platforms for their mental health and would like to connect with people, but just have completely eliminated that from their lives to date, because there's nothing out there for them.

 

Yeah. I know. Quite a few people who've actually left social media or have not even attempted to go on social media because they're just like it's too toxic. The only thing I'll really use the internet for is like Amazon orders and stuff like that. And I think it's. It's kind of interesting that you said that because as weird as it does sound, there are people who want to go on Instagram because they thrive off of the likes.

 

Like we always talk about it in such a negative context, but for some people that is their life and, you know, if it, if it isn't, that's a main priority, it's not up to me to go, judge them at all. But there are plenty of people who have also felt. Obstacles are in their way to post content and stuff like that.

 

And, and for people who don't know the context of your app, really, you guys are, are removing. A lot of the likes of the profiles will be private. I know there's like a, a two-part feed you guys are working on. And like you said, there's no ads. So really what you guys are trying to do. If I'm not mistaken.

 

Is just remove all the obstacles and barriers to entry and allow people to just really be as authentic and as creative as they possibly could be. 

 

Exactly. And I think we've played around with so many different ideas of how to do that. Mainly what we've identified as the toxic pieces are the numbers associated and the fact that it's a numerical.

 

Process versus like, okay, this is emotional based feedback. So we're recreating the feedback loop between someone who's creating content and someone who's consuming content. And we are putting guardrails on the feed piece so that people who are scrolling feel like it is a trigger free experience for them, whatever that means for them personally, and that they're able to connect with the people that they actually want to connect with because.

 

I can speak from personal experience. The algorithm on Instagram does not work for me. I never see my friends posts. And I see all of these people that I like randomly followed who get a ton of likes or get engagement, but not like my best friends. So I want her to be able to work for people that want to be inspired without being triggered, but also would like to see the people in their lives without going down the rabbit holes of like everything that exists on their profile ever.

 

Yeah. And really just using it for the main point, like why social media was created in the first place. Like, I guess for me, it was just a way to communicate with friends and really just post whatever pictures I want. And when I first started social media, that was like the intention then obviously I think as hashtags grow, it grew and tagging posts and different stories and stuff.

 

That's like a really big indicator of, you know, you start feeling these weird feelings and nobody could identify them because. We've never really identified them, or so it's just really interesting from that aspect in terms of just really constructing your business, like how important was it for you and Allie to actually cultivate a team to help build the app?

 

Because I think in a lot of situations there are entrepreneurs who are just like, look like I'll figure this out by myself. I don't want to like have any help. I think it comes with a bit of stubbornness and pride. 

 

Oh, totally. And I think like, if you would have talked to me a year ago, I'm like, I'm going to be a solo founder.

 

Like I, not on the idea of her. And obviously that was Allie and I I's brainchild, but I think I always thought solo entrepreneurship was the route for me because I can handle it all and I can do it. And like, quite frankly, it's very hard to do it on your own. And it's really nice to have someone that you can go through all of the hard stuff with and celebrate the good times with.

 

But for us when we brought on Ryan and Samantha, I mean, for Ryan's role of basically he's like our interim CTO. At this point, we interviewed 20 plus developers of all backgrounds and. We only had five interviews with the people that we really felt got us got the vision, wanted to do good in the world, shared our values.

 

Like that's what it came down to were like, you can find, a hundred talented developers, maybe even cheaper developers than the one that we're working with. But if they don't see the vision and they don't align with our values, then they're not going to build the platform that we want it to be.

 

And similarly with Samantha, like. The reason we went with her as our designer was she came to the table with like, Oh my gosh, I cannot wait for this app to exist. Like I. I'm so frustrated with the platforms. And I, she was like, even if I'm not, you know, the person that you choose, I will be a happy user of this platform.

 

So thank you. And, and it was one of those moments where like, yeah, that's what we want. We want people who are passionate about making change in this landscape and not doing it to make a quick buck, like honestly, Allie and I could have taken her, made some adjustments to how we're thinking about it. And presented it to big people to say, look, we're going to make you all of this money really quickly.

 

We're going to sell the Facebook and that's going to be our plan. That's what a lot of people go into app startups for is an exit strategy. And most of the time that's being acquired by something like Google or snap or Facebook. And for us. We've said we would rather not have that be the case. You can still make money in an ethical way.

 

It's just not maybe going to be a hundred million dollar billion dollar valuation within a month or two, because the way you do that is by selling user data and by selling out and not actually developing something that makes you. 

 

Yeah, well, I mean, they make it off of being viral, you know, going viral and, and like you were saying, not just selling user data, but just constructing something like social media where they're specifically developing algorithms as they serve in the social dilemma to create like shifts in our behavior and make us, purchase an item or do something along those lines.

 

Like it's so important to be ethical. Even with this podcast, you know, I I've. Talked with other podcasters before. And literally they've been like, yeah. So what is your plan to monetize? Like, you need to create an email list. You need to hire a videographer, a social media specialists without.

 

Even posting their first episode yet. And I've been talking to a couple individuals within the clubhouse community and just people who just want to get into podcasting in general. Cause I always like leave my DMS open and they literally have been like, I want to enter the, the dual podcast, but like, I'm so scared of, all of the steps I have to take to even get into that.

 

Mentality to kind of just, jump and do it. I think it's even harder when it comes to like a business like yourself. Like how, how are you able to really cultivate your mentality and your level of risk to go from, a stable nine to five job, and then just kind of. Do something that, there isn't  success or risk of guarantee.

 

I think the biggest thing was like, I, I still am working a nine to five job. It's different than the one that I had when I initially started the development of Herd, I switched into something that was going to fulfill me in different way. I think that's like my biggest advice for anyone is hold onto the stability that you have while you can for as long as you can, but make sure that it's something that you.

 

Are enjoying us as much as you can given your situation. So I got really lucky where the job that I have now is very creatively satisfying. I enjoy I'm happy to go and do that for the hours that I'm doing it. And it gives me energy versus feeling like something that was draining me, which is kind of the situation I was in before.

 

So I think my perspective is I'm like, I was telling you a little bit, like I'm moving out of my apartment here and I'm actually moving home with my family. I'm really grateful that they're allowing me to crash and given just like the situation we're in right now with COVID, my employer is working from home.

 

Through pretty much the entirety of 2021. So I'm going home to not run, to save money and to try to do as much as I can, that I'm in a position that feels like even if I were to take a risk and potentially leave all stability behind that, I would be able to account for the bills that they need to account for.

 

I also just think. From Allie and I's perspective, like we're not taking any money. We're putting all of the money that we have from investments into developing the platform and paying the other team members of our team and, and not ourselves. And I think because we have set that precedent of like, we will not take a salary from this or take any money into we're making money back, or at least have the promise of like more.

 

Capital like that we're going to be getting there has allowed us to remove that pressure from our lives. I think what happens oftentimes is people are like, okay, I'm really excited about this idea. And trust me, I've been almost to this point where like, I'm really excited about this idea. I'm just going to quit and spend every waking hour on this idea and this idea alone.

 

But if you remove that financial stability, that kind of like foundation that you have under you and all of a sudden you're stressed about how am I going to feed myself, pay my bills? Do you mind like basic have my basic human needs covered? Then it becomes not only really hard to build something, but really hard to think about an idea and solving a problem without being like, how am I going to make money immediately?

 

So, Even if it's something like, okay, I'm going to drive Postmates or like do whatever I can for a few hours so that I'm able to make this project what I want it to be without having to worry about how I'm going to make money as quickly as possible. That's my biggest tip for anyone going through it.

 

That's such great advice, honestly, because I know in social media personally, and especially in tech talk, which I've seen a lot lately, whereas the videos just autoplay and you scrolls to the next one. But one thing I'm seeing is that there's people who are kind of bragging about their access. Like, Hey, I made 10 K in a month.

 

Let me show you how I do it. And they don't necessarily. And I think for some people, obviously, like they get the idea and they're like, okay, I can do it too, but it doesn't mean like you leave everything behind, you know? Or like, you don't know what that person's background. You don't even know if they're lying.

 

He could be holding fake bills or something like that. And one of the prime examples I've seen is somebody he posted a video about how, he makes $50,000 monthly and he's able to go travel the world. Because he owns like four Airbnb properties and he's like, here's the way to do it. But I'm like, for somebody who's in college, like how do you even afford the money to purchase like four properties off the back and furnish it?

 

Like, that's so unrealistic. 

 

And I feel like there are so many people, I see it on tech talk too. Like, I think I've seen that basically you same example that you were just saying where I'm like, okay, you are coming from a place most of the time, not all the time, but most of the time, a place of. Just inherent privilege.

 

Like you are not recognizing the fact that you have some level of a safety net. Like if you're able to say, I mean, that's like a big case in tech, right? Like a lot of the people like Mark Zuckerberg, for example, dropped out of his like insane. I think it was Harvard education and lived at his parents' home and Jeff pesos family 250 K back in the nineties or eighties.

 

And dad's idea like. You a lot of these people that go and have made a success or able to be entrepreneurial, have some level of privilege or safety net, or they know at the end of the day, even if they feel they have something that they can rely on to like be said or housed or closed or whatever. So a lot of those people on Tik TOK, I think either just don't recognize or choose to ignore the fact that not everyone starting at the same point.

 

And so not everyone can take the same risks. 

 

Yeah, well, it's like comparison, like you said, and then it just leads to a lot of toxicity from I, like I said, I think. Generally when people put this intention or video out into the world, it's like one of two things, one they're either insecure, and they went likes to go evaluate their level of success and feel a little better about themselves.

 

Or number two is that they're actually trying to put a positive intention out into the world and teach people, but kind of like what you said, we don't all start from the same destination. I mean, it differs, especially for individuals who may be living in. Let's say a third world country, it's totally different.

 

So I, I like how Herd is really accomplishing a mission. Based around ethicalness and, and just trying to fix this issue and stuff like that. And I guess I'm just wondering what, what, what are like your, your next steps and Herd for going into 2021 and pretty much, the rest of the years as they go on.

 

I know it's, we have a lot to look forward to. I think this is going to be a really big year for her. So. We're launching our beta in February. We actually just today kind of closed out. Who's going to be on that list. We have 10,000 people, which is amazing that are going to be beta testing. And then from there, our hope is that we'll be doing a full launch in April.

 

So where it's available. We'll have to start probably just with North America, given like server capacity, how many people love our team excited. But in the meantime, The biggest thing for Allina is making sure that we have enough money secured. So we are going like the investment route where we're trying to raise money for equity percentage.

 

So making sure that we have enough money to pay more people, to bring onto our team, we're going to keep it pretty small, but we probably need to hire two more engineers for 2021. And then hopefully just continue to roll it out. Once it becomes successful in one market, then you have to, continue on and, and build your team out to support that.

 

And so we would love to see at the end of 2021, us being in a few different markets and supporting the users that we have, we don't have necessarily a number of users that we want to hit. Instagram hit a hundred thousand users on their first day for just like complex, which is crazy. And they had a million within their first year, which is about their trajectory.

 

That social networks need like art, people say they need to be successful. So we would like to reach some level of scale. So that it's an good experience for people. But as long as we have a user base, that feels like when they log onto herd and they leave herd. They feel better or at least the same as they did when they started.

 

That's what success looks like to us. If we've developed something that makes our users feel that way, then that's a win. 

 

Yeah, no, I mean, that's a great point. And I think you guys definitely will get the funding. What's your initiative and everything, I guess, is a quick follow-up to that. 

 

Where do you think the trajectory of social media is going? Because like, obviously, like Herd is creating it's app that we have tic talk now, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, like, do you think people are just going to keep increasing the amount of social media apps they have? Or do you think over time people are just going to stick to one and say like, this is my bread and butter.

 

I think it's funny. I had a very similar conversation with my older brother over the summer where I was like, I think they'd be, this is when we, before we had her fully fleshed out, but I was like, maybe people just like to have one platform where they can go to and everyone's on it. Like Instagram, maybe it's just human behavior.

 

And we only want a few and that's why no other social media platform has existed. But I actually think we're at a point. Given the pandemic. I think that accelerated things, but also given the direction that Facebook and Instagram have taken to just be really focused on ads and like the monetization aspects of their platform and not what users are actually like saying they want or need.

 

I think there's going to be a group of people that decide that they're going to try new platforms. I think there'll be a group of people that just completely eliminate all social networks and then there'll be a group of people that. Don't see any problems in what currently is out there and they stick to the ones that we know exist today.

 

I do think like there is an appetite in general for people to try something new you're on clubhouse and I'm also on clubhouse and the mass excitement that we've seen. I think it's less about wow. Clubhouse is great, but I think it's less about like, Oh my God, clubhouse has everything I've ever wanted and more of, Oh my gosh, thank God.

 

There's something new because I'm sick of being on the same platforms that I've been on for the last 10 years. 

 

Yeah, no, that's a good point. I mean, I think every social media kind of has its use. Like I go on LinkedIn for like professional networking. Instagram is more where I want to see my friends and see how they're doing.

 

Even if the algorithm won't let me be an area to post creativity and clubhouses, just like to meet all types of new people. And I think what it comes down to ultimately is just gen Z. If I'm being honest, like gen Z is pretty much. Very very successful in being viral right now. Like we have 16 and 18 year olds, literally getting millions upon millions of likes.

 

And where do you see the trajectory for them kind of going, because in my opinion with them, I see a lot of more unique and creative careers being. Generated from them because it's just, they they're the experts. I mean, I'm, I'm at the latter end of gen Z, but I know like my cousin is like 13 and she already has like thousands and thousands of likes on tech talks.

 

And I'm just like, how do you even use this thing? You know? So I, I think there'll be a lot of new creative careers. And I think also with them, they're going to be, hopefully they're going to be able to curate a more truthful news. Media through social media without too much self policing, right? 

 

No, I think gen Z is a big part of our, like when we're thinking about who would use her, it's mostly, I'd say millennials, like maybe younger millennials and gen Z, because right now, when you think about the people that are blowing up on tick-tock that are 15, 16, they have never known a world without Instagram.

 

And now take talk is becoming ingrained in who they are, their personality, how they make jokes, how they interact with other people, how they view virality and success. My younger brother is 13, so I see how he views the world through the lens of Instagram and ticked off so completely different than how I did at that age.

 

Like he, his world feels so much bigger. To him because he sees the world at 13, but he sees it through the lens of like all of these random people on the internet. Whereas I would use social media, like Instagram when I was 14 or 15, when I first downloaded as a way to connect with the people in my real life.

 

Like not really like expanding my horizons. So I think for my younger brother, it's made him more aware of what's out there, which is a good thing in some ways, but also like a really negative thing and others where he's just like, Wow. Their life is so fun and I'm, you know, stuck, you're doing middle school homework when I want to be snowboarding or,  surfing on the beach in Hawaii and dropping out of high school.

 

Like he's just expanded his horizons and yeah, good tagline right there. 

 

I just feel like there are going to be. Let me backtrack a little bit on clubhouse. I've been hearing a lot of people that are older than myself and in the like older millennial group. That are big and investments and like what's next.

 

And what's trendy talking about the fact that we are in the era of the influencer economy. Like we are basically the people that are going to be able to create businesses in the next 10 to 15 years are going to be the people that have built an online following that are big social stars and influencers and.

 

What's interesting about that is when you look at gen Z and research done on how gen Z interacts, they hate ads, they actually like prefer stories and would rather not see a social media star or someone who's been told to them isn't as an influencer or a celebrity, they prefer organic relationships and organic content because their entire lives, all they've seen in front of them is.

 

What we were just talking about, like the people that are showing the highlight reel of their life and gaining a following and that's about it. And so they've never seen true authentic creation and the way that people that are on the older side of gen Z or millennials have seen. So I think that while everyone else is going to be focusing on becoming an influencer and every other platform is going to be focusing on getting people to become influencers, like roll up into that influencer economy notion.

 

Our hope is that for everyone else who doesn't want that for themselves and just wants to create, or doesn't want the pressure they can come to Herd. But also like the Sienna may Gomez, who was like one of my favorites. She's like 16 on Tik TOK. Lou up has millions of followers in the course of the year.

 

She can come to Herd and feel. Kind of just like she did before, like just like a normal person, because when you think about these social stars that are just having so much pressure on them now to create and be this influencer, but they're 16. Like they don't necessarily know how that's going to impact their life.

 

They don't have a place online currently where they can have that expression and that freedom that they had before they're 

 

following. Yeah. And you're still growing. I mean, if you're 16, I was a totally different person at 16 and 13 too. And my, my ideas of the world were so. Limited. I would say, you know, I kind of use social media in the same way.

 

Just connect with friends now, like your brother, I'm sure that like my little cousin is just thinking, Oh, this is like, what the world's like, I could touch this Avenue, this out the new, this Avenue. It's really cool. But at the same time, you have to understand some of it's truthful. Some of it isn't. You know, at the end of the day, I really enjoy her.

 

I enjoy that the app is going to be released and I'll definitely download it once it's out of its beta and all of that stuff. And you, you go through all the tests and everything. So I think that's just really great the initiatives that you and Allie are running. I appreciate you coming on today just to chat about your thoughts with gen Z and, and comparison and the toxicity of social media and everything.

 

So thanks for coming on. Is there anything you want to plug in or give in terms of herds, Roma roadmap? 

 

No. I think people can follow along on the platforms that we currently have, which are all@her.app on Tik TOK and on Instagram. That's where we're posting a lot of updates. People want to stay in the know, but I just want to say thank you for having me and letting me talk freely about this.

 

Obviously I'm very passionate about it. I can talk for hours, so it's nice to talk to someone who gets it and is a great thoughtful listener. So thank you. Yeah, 

 

no, I appreciate it. And you made the links really easy at Herd, and I'm going to put all of your links in the description below. So thank you so much for coming on for everyone listening.

 

I appreciate you tuning in. Hopefully you were able to take something away from this episode about toxicity within social media, highly suggest you watch the social dilemma. If you haven't already. I encourage you to just look out for her on the horizon for the course of 2021. I know I definitely am.