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mark evans

Isaac Raichyk, founder and chief executive officer of Keek Inc.

The social networking marketplace is crowded and competitive, with thousands of services battling for the attention.

Nevertheless, it does not appear to have deterred startups from trying to get a foothold. They believe that if they can come up with a better mousetrap or do something different, the world will beat a path to their door.

A good example of a company that has managed to successfully insert itself into the social media landscape is Toronto-based Keek Inc., a video social network that recently raised $5.5-million from AlphaNorth Asset Management, Plazacorp Ventures and PowerOne Capital Markets.

Described as Twitter for video, Keek users can post 36-second video clips captured with a webcam or Keek's mobile apps.

These clips can be share on Keek's network, as well as on other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about Keek, I talked with Isaac Raichyk, its founder and chief executive officer.

Q: What are the origins of Keek?

A; Early in 2010, we set out to build small, wearable video cameras. We quickly realized the cameras would only be meaningful if users could send video status updates to a social network. We understood that words are only part of telling a story and that people around the world crave video. People want to show moments of their lives and peek into the lives of others. Our mission is, "to enables a global community to see through each other's eyes."

Q: What are the keys to differentiate the business, given the competitive landscape? Is it simply that Keek is a video-based service?

A: Keek is designed to be the fastest way to create and share micro-video status updates both within Keek and also on other major social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

Q: How are you driving awareness? How important a role does social media play?

A: We are 100-per-cent focused on product development. We believe the Keek platform speaks for itself. It is fast, fun and informative. On Keek, I have seen everything from youth interacting with friends to daredevil skateboarders; from celebrities engaging their fans to dramatic scenes from a hospital bed. I am proud of what we have enabled.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of getting user traction?

A: Again, it comes down to users having a great experience so they will want to tell their friends, followers and the world. It's also just as important to provide them with the means to share these experiences throughout various social networks. The first million users are always the hardest.

Q: How was Keek originally funded? Why the decision to raise venture capital? How did you find the process? What tips would you offer other startups looking to raise VC?

A: We funded it ourselves with some help from family and friends until we had a prototype to show. We discovered that if you have a great concept and can show it working, people will invest. Contrary to rumorus, we found the Toronto VC community to be very informed and ready to support innovation.

Q: What's next for Keek? Where does the business go from here?

We are still in beta mode. We have just rolled out 'keekmail' and 'private keeks'. There's much more to come over the next three months, too. The Keek community is very active and is providing us with lots of feedback and innovative ideas. We are grateful to all members of the community for their support. I can state with certainty that Keek will only get better from here.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.

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