Founded by Steve Spurgat and Chuck Reina, the New York-based and newly launched VYou is a combination of Formspring, YouTube and Twitter (“Formspring + video + crack.” is a popular description amongst its beta users). The core function of VYou is to enable a video conversation, allowing you to send and receive messages with friends and experts at your own pace. You can also follow users and create, store and share pre-recorded video responses accordingly.
Similar to what Seesmic was originally attempting to do back in the day and like a peppy Howcast or eHow, VYou’s asynchronous chat format was designed for multiple use cases, “We could do a deal with a dating site (an obvious use case), but then we become ‘that dating application.’ We could focus on celebrities, but then we may lose experts and general users,” Spurgat explains.
Like Q&A giant Quora, Spurgat and Reina have been working on site development for a year and wisely targeted the beta towards influential users and brands including pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman, investor and advisor Rex Sorgatz, BNTER founder Lauren Leto, writer Will Leitch, Gawker TV guy Richard Blakely and wine expert Gary Vaynerchuk.
Aside from attracting talent, it’s addictive as all hell; The moment I signed up, after I recorded a “Waiting” video and “No Response” video, Spurgat asked me the question of the hour “Does Yahoo Mail lower your credit card score?” (har har). Because sense of humor and other body language cues often do not come across in writing, video is an ideal platform for Q&A, especially when answers are time limited (there’s a helpful/condescending little bar across the bottom of the site that tells you when you’ve gone on for too long while recording a video).
After being fenced in by 140 characters or the often dry annals of Quora or Formspring, it was great to have the information surplus of sights and sounds at my disposal when interacting with a human online. And I actually feel closer to Spurgat after having video answered his Yahoo Mail question, even if he was pulling my leg.
Riding on the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the OldSpice campaign, it’s inevitable that brief, personalized video responses would immensely appeal to companies and brands seeking to interact with users — right out of the gate VYou’s first brand partnership is with lifestyle website Flavorpill, where Flavorpill editors will interview celebrities through the service and post their VYou-powered “Interactive Video Interview Program” on the Flavorwire blog.
VYou is currently angel funded and is looking to improve its search function as well as expand access to multiple platforms, including mobile and through an API. Says CEO Spurgat, “Our only guidance will be to show the market that this is a utility, with a wide range of applications.”
Applications which include preventing me from getting any more work done, for tonight at least.