A trio of tech entrepreneurs "from everywhere" are in Cincinnati to perfect a new online social platform that aims to transform large-group communication.
, set for a soft Beta launch within the week, allows a person or organization with a large group of followers to communicate with that group in a more organized way.
It works like this: a person -- like a politician, celebrity or blogger -- who has hundreds or thousands of online followers creates a profile on CrowdHall. Fans can ask questions that get voted on or followed by fellow fans. Questions that have the highest number of votes or interest get pushed to the top and the politician or celebrity can respond.
It sounds pretty simple, and that's the point, says CrowdHall co-founder and CEO Austin Hackett, who left New York's Columbia Medical School to perfect the site through The Brandery
incubator here in Cincinnati.
"This is a platform that helps organize large audience communication. It gives people and organizations a real time list of what is on the minds of greatest number of people. It makes the whole two-way conversation more efficient," Hackett says.
The company has been in The Brandery program about four weeks, and co-founders Hatchett and
Jordan Menzel, along with developer Nick Wientge, came from different parts of the country to participate in the Brandery's 16-week program.
CrowdHall will be most valuable for those who have more than 20,000 followers, he adds.
"The current social tools are great for one-way communication. If Justin Bieber wants to deliver a message to millions of followers through Twitter or Facebook, it works. But when people talk back, it gets overwhelming. He can't respond to everyone, and it wouldn't be a good use of time," Hackett says.
Users connect to the site with their Facebook or Twitter accounts so they don't have to create a new profile. The service will debut free, but CrowdHall plans to unveil a paid, premium service in the future.
CrowdHall is an idea with local appeal. The company won the first Startup Pitch Wars
at the inaugural Bunbury Music Festival. CincyTech
and the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association
sponsored the Pitch Wars that pitted 16 local startups against each other in a rapid fire pitch contest. CrowdHall won $1,000 and "a gaudy trophy."
Hackett is enjoying Cincinnati and the Brandery experience, but is unsure if he'll stay in the area once the program is over. He is open to it, however.
"It depends on which city supports us, and the level of partnerships and investment they provide. We are in Cincinnati and we are happy for now," he says.
By Feoshia Henderson Davis
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