Startup Spotlight #148: Butler
Butler helps you build and curate your own personal library of various media.
I got the chance to speak with Jacob Zeitzew and Alexander Taylor, co-founders of Butler, about what they are working on at their startup, and any advice they have for emerging entrepreneurs.
Long time friends and collaborators with a fascination for all things media and technology, in 2018, the three (Zeitzew, Taylor and Adrian Noah) started a production company 'Lost Signal Studios' with a focused on new media, producing music videos, short films, corporate content, VR Experiences and Podcasts. They started dabbling in the app space early on, investigating solutions for problems they encountered in their work and social spaces as well as how they could augment the stories they wanted to tell with technology.
The pandemic shutdown gave them the time and opportunity to fully focus on the app space and start developing a few of the ideas they'd been discussing.
They realized that one of the biggest, most frustrating problems they all shared, whether it was working together, in their respective jobs, or in their personal lives had to do with sharing and saving recommendations of the media they love. They struggled to decide how to best spend their free time consuming said media. With the ever increasing amount of fantastic content being made, another challenge was to determine how to efficiently parse through this and discover new media that truly matches their individual tastes across platforms and services.
They're building Butler to solve all these problems and become a hub for all of your media needs. Their focus right now is on becoming the best personal media utility possible, pairing a cross media service agnostic search engine with the ability to build your own curated library of media with relevant tags and notes for each item you save.
As well as being a tool for your own personal library, they are expanding their social media features so you can follow your friends media tastes and allow Butler to be used for professional and educational purposes, curating easily shared and followable trans-media lists relevant to things such as course syllabi and reference material.
They are currently in Open Beta, available on both iOS and Android.
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Startup Spotlight: Butler
Problem: Physical and digital notes are easy to lose, bookmarks without context don’t retain value, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find good content effectively. Digital clutter over multiple apps increases decision fatigue prevents efficient consumption.
Market: Consumers around the world spend an average of over 7.5 hours per day interacting with media with new content services fracturing the market every day. In the US alone, the amount of money spent on streaming services per year is increasing exponentially with the US Video Streaming App Revenue for 2020 being $24.1 billion.
Solution: A dedicated search engine for all media types and the ability to curate your own platform agnostic trans-media smart library with note taking and tagging features. Compare and contrast taste profiles with friends to receive the most accurate recommendations across media types.
Team: We're a nimble technical team with diverse professional and educational backgrounds. Filmmakers and self-taught programmers with a DIY ethic, we work well together after years of collaboration and friendship.
Alexander Taylor. Co-Founder. Electrical Engineering Graduate. Over 10 years experience working in the film business on set as Assistant Director, Producer.
Jacob Zeitzew. Co-Founder. Mechanical Engineering Graduate. Previous startup founder. Highly experienced wearable technologies.
Adrian Noah. Co-Founder. Film School Graduate. Short film and music video director. Experience ranging from legal and design.
Zeitzew and Taylor: While we have a clearly defined vision for success for the utility of our app, our team loves to dream big and we’ve created a malleable platform that can grow in several directions. We have great engagement and retention so far, which speaks to the function that we serve. It’s taken several interviews and product reviews to build a tool that is concise and scannable. The team has been getting more and more comfortable with one another and blurring the lines of whose responsibilities are whom. Between teaching our community manager / UX lead how to do some basic code or teaching our frontend engineer how to better understand the backend, we've been more efficient at shipping updates and cohesive as a group.
Zeitzew and Taylor: Balancing the need to cater to everyone while also catering to a specific niche is a point of healthy contention and deciding how best to focus the app to spur growth, in the beginning, is a challenge. As a team, we’re open and honest with each other and have created an environment where we can speak freely. We have battling opinions that have resulted in resourceful conversations on the balance between growth, product development and catering to our user's needs, and with our current user feedback community, we can talk directly with our beta testers to poll for issues or future features. It's always difficult at the stage we're at today to balance the time required for each facet of the business. We've been prioritizing product development as of late, which can sometimes feel like we're not devoting enough time to marketing or fundraising. Our solution for this has been reaching out to our communities, asking for help when we need it, and currently, longer hours.
Zeitzew and Taylor:
Zeitzew: The team is the most important factor you have to begin with. Be proactive. Find people you can trust and rely on when the going gets tough.
Taylor: You have to be as optimistic as possible to fuel yours and your teams passion and long term vision for what you are making as well as being as ruthlessly critical and pessimistic as possible so you can look at your product without rose tinted glasses and identify its weaknesses so you can solve for them.
Noah: Organisation and communication from the get go are absolutely invaluable.
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