TECHNOLOGY

This App Wants to Disrupt Livestreaming in Southeast Asia

Look wants you to be to be able to ask anyone to be your webcam

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 27 Jun 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Almost everyone is familiar with live streaming, but San Francisco-based Look turns this notion on its head. Instead of documenting your own life or what’s happening around you, you instead request other users to livestream where they are, or as its site says, “Ask anyone to be your webcam.”

There are many different possible uses for this kind of app, as founder and CEO Donald Starr notes.

“Imagine being able to see anywhere, anytime, on demand. Use cases are infinite: Is my favorite restaurant crowded? How’s the weather at the beach? Show me the Eiffel Tower now,” he illustrates.

These possibilities inspired him to create Look, which currently has operations in Thailand. “The power of every camera, in every pocket of the users, is largely untapped, and we thought that by flipping the model of current livestreaming apps, and putting the viewers in charge of asking what or where they wanted to see, we could do something about it,” he says.

The fact that Look has so many possible uses can be both a benefit and a curse. “The app has an infinity of use cases, which might be a double-edged sword. The first challenge was to identify a few, and focus on them to grow the community. We want to continue this process of test and learn to progressively add new use cases to the app,” Starr says.

This challenge is similar to the one that livestreaming—the vertical that Starr is trying to disrupt—faced in its early days. When livestreaming platform Justin.tv went live, it did not get much traction until it focused on the one subset of its niche—video gaming. The platform has since evolved into Twitch, a gaming-streaming platform.

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Starr, for his part, is focusing on the journalistic applications of Look. He believes that Look can be a tool for citizen journalism, and the company’s ambition is to be a global network of on-demand reporters.

While empowering citizen journalism is noble, this is also part of their monetization plans.

“News companies can access our paying Look Media Platform to dynamically create geofences, which will trigger stream request to all users entering them, [for instance] CNN needs you now, would you like to shoot a video for them,” he says, adding that media companies will have the opportunity to pay the best users for their videos.

The other key part of their monetization model will be location-based ads, which complements the fact they have gotten the most traction for travel-based video feeds and social events, such as music festivals, concerts, and sports games.

According to Starr, Look views Southeast Asia as a very important market. They are currently building partnerships with media and news companies to grow their base across the region.

As you may have guessed, Look’s most popular demographic in Southeast Asia and across the world are millennials, and the company is going to great lengths to make the product even stickier. “We want to keep iterating the app, adding some features our customers have been asking for, such as a rewarding mechanism, virtual credits, and contests, to keep onboarding users,” he says.

Because it begins with the demand, Starr says Look’s content tends to be more interesting. “The livestreaming space is very hot now where Periscope and FB Live lead, but we think that the ‘streamer-initiated’ model produces low-interest videos,” he says. Look, he adds, is location-centric versus user-centric.

He says that many users are helped every day, and the best way to experience the value of a location-centric video feed is to try it. “Request a stream and wait for the magic to happen,” he states.