About a year ago I met Eytan at the Google Launchpad, a startup bootcamp of sorts, in TelAviv. A year has gone by and out of that bootcamp only a handfull of startups survived.

One has managed to recruit several million dollar from investors, some gave up and moved on to the next venture and some returned to the employee workforce. Eytan Levitt is one of the entrepreneurs who made it through the year and his startup, Yoovi, is now at the final stage of its product launch – a closed beta.

The idea behind Yoovi is a photo management and sharing service for parents. Yoovi is not an ordinary mobile app and its launch requires a considerable investment. The app is at the Apple App Store for several months now, but it is an invite-only service as yet. Eytan’s challenge is double: on the one hand, potential investors require guarantee of public demand. The goal that Eytan set are pretty straight forward: 20,000 pre-enrolls will get Yoovi enough funds to complete the launch. 100,000 will fund additional services. On the other hand, the public doesn’t know Yoovi and users are constantly bombarded with messages from dozens of competing products every hour. Photo sharing is something we do every day. An average mobile user has 3 to 5 different apps they use concurrently to do this: Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Path. Yoovi has a unique niche and it does answer a specific problem for parents who take loads of photos. But in such a big ocean of apps, who will notice a unique little drop?

Eytan’s solution to these two problems was a brilliant videoclip, where he presents the idea and asks the viewers to vote for the app by adding their emails on Yoovis website. The clip was shot at the end of January, cut and edited at the beginning of February. Now all that’s left is to distribute it and hopefully make it viral.

On February 18 Eytan released the clip on his personal Facebook profile and on Yoovis page. He needed to get the required number of users within 31 days.

In startup meetups, when seasoned entrepreneurs speak in front of new entrepreneurs, they talk a lot about “evangelizing” – the  need for an entrepreneur to become a preacher or a prophet for their own venture. This is exactly what Eytan did in the days that followed the release of the clip:

Launching the campaign was a live event broadcast on Yevvo. Within several hours, with the good help of friends, he already collected 700 emails.

The following day, Yoovi’s team opened a “war room” at the Google TLV Campus. It was a viral marketing hackathon, with beer and pizzas. Friends came over to show their support and within a day the number of emails collected surpassed 4,000. Eytan practically moved into the Campus. His presence there was put to good use: on the third day he spoke in front of a group of entrepreneurs from South America. It was February 20 and responses from all over the world were pouring: a guy from New Zealand sent a moving message, someone else sent a video of herself using Eytan’s clip in a lecture about viral marketing and Saul Singer, the author of Startup Nation enlisted to the campaign, posting about it on his highly popular Facebook Page.

Yoovi’s livecast was still going strong on the fourth day, making it effectively the first TV reality event of the Israeli startup scene. Meanwhile, responses continued to flow: Eytan reported about a twit fro Saudi Arabia sharing the clip and about a CEO from one of the largest parents’online communities asking for a beta invite. On the sixth day the count was already on 8,000.

Things changed on the seventh day. It was opened in Barcellona, at the World Mobile Congress. With all due respect to hackathons and friends’support, you still need the big conventions to meet investors and get media exposure. Here is what Eytan shared on his Facebook account:

 Hello friends, first I’d like to say thank you very much to everyone that’s supporting, helping, saying nice things, sending emails.. wow.. just wow..

Yesterday was my first day in the Barcelona conference – I was in the less successful venue but I still got the maximum I could, chinese investors that really liked Yoovi and offered to invest, I also reached 3 journalists – one of them from a really big publisher.

Things I learned yesterday:

1. Always provide value – the way I got to these 3 journalists was through a panel where the crowd was participating, and I really participated and asked question that made sense to the discussion. When the panel was done the journalists came to me(!!) and said thanks for participating. 

2. Everybody is trying to fight over media’s attention, my primary goal isn’t to pitch my story, but to create rapport.

3. The “second most important person in the room technique” – when everybody wants the attention of someone, look for the person that came with him – and talk with him. It’s gets amazing results.

4. Always help – I offered someone to charge his iPhone with my mac’s USB, turns out he’s the BizDev of Rovio(Angry Birds) and really helped.

5. The parties in the night just as important as the conference – my goal for today, get access to the most important party/

6. Someone told me a great sentance – “the most content I create, the luckier I am” – HOW TRUE!! I’m thrilled that our campaign continues going well, I find it a world wonder, I hope our attempts to get converage will be fruitful soon(they will).

Sorry for not live streaming as much, 3g and bettery are a real constraint on that.

That’s for now – HAVE A GREAT DAY!!

Eytan from Barcelona

February is ending and Yoovi achieved half of their target number so far, within just 10 days.

A campaign’s success is measured against its defined goals. As of today, the campaign is a success. Goals can be changed during the campaign. In the case of Yoovi, the Barcellona convention was a great opportunity not to be missed and a game changer. Talking about viral campaigns, it is hard not to refer to global phenomena such as Kony2012 , which received over 100 million views within 6 days on YouTube. But such a comparison would be unfair: Yoovi is a struggling startus, trying to pre-enroll potential users – not raise funds on Kickstarter or fight against child abuse in Africa. Behind Yoovi you won’t find massive donor support or an army of Twitter controlling Hollywood stars. Yoovi’s campaign is an excellent lesson for young entrepreneurs with limited resources.

Posted by Samuel Miller

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