Gather Is A Video App That Wants To Replace Your Boring Text Replies

A new group video reactions app called Gather hopes to add a bit of fun to your digital life. The iOS app lets users post links to online articles and then gathers video reactions from those connected to you on the app.

Those with an iPhone already have a sufficient supply of communications tools to choose from – Snapchat, Vine, Facebook Messages or even plain old texting.

But even the use of Emoji in your texts won’t do for Gather co-founders Aaron Zinman and Greg Elliott. As fun as it is to send a combo panda, heart, poop emoji to your friend, Zinman said those types of replies can get lost in translation.

Gather adds context to reactions from friends – something other video apps don’t have, Zinman pointed out.

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But Gather is not the only video reactions app in the space. Samba is another app built around video reactions from your friends. The idea is to record a video message for a friend and then let them send their reply.

Gather also lets users post videos to a group or individual and get reactions from them, but it differs from Samba in that it also lets users offer links to articles and then asking for reactions to the article. It’s a hybrid of Snapchat Stories and Samba in that way.

Zinman and Elliott met as undergrads at UCSD and then later again at MIT. Zinman was there for his Ph.D. and Elliott for some post-Masters education with MIT Media Lab. The two decided to put their engineering and design talents together and create a startup of some kind. Zinman said it took several iterations before settling on video reactions.

Gather now has about $1 million in seed funding from Floodgate, Greylock Partners, Ben Ling of Khosla Ventures and Scott Belsky.

But a social video app in a crowded space is an odd choice for two Ivy-league educated guys. Zinman shrugged that off and told me he wants to harness what he sees as an emerging video literacy.

“It’s becoming mainstream,” he said, listing precursors like Kik and FaceTime – but all those missed something crucial to helping this type of communication take off, according to Zinman.

“Video texting the way it’s been done, the formula is wrong,” he said. “They have no context and that’s awkward. It’s weird. But if you send me something relevant to my life, that’s easy to respond to.”

Floodgate’s Ann Miura-Ko told me over the phone that she invested because of the team behind the app more than anything.

“It’s hard to know where it will be at this early stage,” she said. “But they are extraordinarily talented designers and developers.” The big mark for her is how the community will use the app.

I tried Gather out myself and thought it was a fun way to have my say about a story. Sure, it’s a bit unnerving to put up a first reaction on video, but people do that on Snapchat, Vine and a bunch of other apps.

Will it take off? Who knows. It’s in a crowded space, but the investors believe in the team. If Gather doesn’t get the traction it needs, the founding duo seems capable of changing it up or pivoting to something else.