|Now.in Wins IDEAS Show 2011. Who?
by Jeremy Brand Yuan on July 27, 2011
As IDEAS Show 2011 drew to a close this evening, an intense and entertaining day of all things Taiwan startup has come to an end. The day was packed with activities, including keynote speeches, panel discussions, and startup expos. The highlight of the day were the main stage demonstrations, as startups went head to head to win the grand prize, a cooperation with Asus, cash money, and a trip to the Intel Challenge in California. So who won? A tiny startup with a nifty service by the name of Now.in Now.in may not seem like much at first glance. It’s website is a bit basic and looks a little idiosyncratic when compared side by side with its more polished competition – heck, it doesn’t even have a logo. But underneath this site, run by two partners (brothers, no less) and a German international student-cum-translator, is a democratic and novel online radio service that puts the power of radio DJ in the hands of just about anyone who wants it. For this gem of an idea and their presentation, given in English, the judges bestowed upon the team best in show.
Perhaps the best way to introduce the service is with the team’s own words:
Now.in is an online radio platform for everyone to broadcast and listen. You can introduce nice music to the world. You can also talk, share your idea to the world. Also, you can just enjoy being a DJ! It takes only few minutes to create an online radio site. It is also very easy for people to listen, just open the radio page with browser.
Now.in\s user interface introduces social elements to radioThe service bucks the traditional one-way format of radio and introduces much more fluid control. Don’t like what’s available? Then make your own station. Already have a station? Know exactly how many people are listening to what you have to say. Only a listener? Participate in the station chatroom. Radio has never really been so interactive. It’s elegance is in this simplicity. Oh yeah, there’s a mobile app too, so you can listen to your favorite stations anywhere. They’ve also set up agreements with record companies and signed up celebrities to be their own broadcasting vehicles.
What strikes me most about the service is how egalitarian the service is. Investors often talk about looking for prospects with the ability to change the market or, maybe, even the world. If the ability to beam a message out into cyberspace for all to hear doesn’t fit that bill, I don’t know what does. One only need to consider the power-to-the-people force services like Twitter and Facebook had in the recent round of North African revolutions to understand how fundamental a role modern socialized media can play in today’s world. Imagine every Egyptian or Libyan was broadcasting not with 140 character messages, but with his own radio station, and the potential is evident.
Its current user base is a reflection of this egalitarian aspect. Hailing from across the globe, the site’s 3 million users come from not only Taiwan, but also Germany, Hong Kong, Greece, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Argentina, to name a few. What’s great is that there are no rules. Start whatever station you want. Users in Greece use it to stream the audio from their local football club’s soccer matches, for instance. Why not?
The other thing that strikes me is that radio is a late format to become interactive. Other media have long ago moved from a passive one-way model to interactive two-way modes. Youtube changed the way the world consumes the moving image by giving content consumers the ability to become content creators. Why hasn’t radio experienced the same shift?
Don’t be fooled by the simple design, the goliaths of radio should take note. Now.in may have always wanted to showing the Clear Channels and Sirius-XMs of the world that maybe large radio antennae and radio satellites aren’t the only way to be heard, but now it has the VC interest to prove it.
Congratulations to all the contestants, stay tuned for more IDEAS Show coverage.