Authority Magazine
Published in

Authority Magazine

The Future of Communication Technology: Winder Hughes Of Relevnt On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

An Interview With David Liu

Make it about more than just money. If you’re doing it for money alone, you’re missing half the equation. And your cup will only be half full. The mission matters, so have one.

The telephone totally revolutionized the way people all over the world communicate. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…

All of this innovation naturally has consumers wondering what’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Relevnt Founder & CEO Winder Hughes.

Winder Hughes is the founder & CEO of Relevnt, an ephemeral group messaging app that drives real-time, authentic conversations. Relevnt is the definitive go-to daily communications experience that enables users to connect and interact freely with the people and topics they care about through live, pop-up chatrooms called “vibes”. These chatrooms are uniquely personalized by timeframes, interests, and geolocation.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Prior to launching Relevnt in 2016, and its predecessor Life In Hi-Fi in 2012, I worked on Wall Street as an investment advisor. For a big part of my 30-year career on Wall Street, I traded in micro-cap stocks. This exposed me to all types of entrepreneurs. And that’s what planted the seed for me to want to create my own product one day, something helpful, special and that filled a need.

My first entrepreneurial venture was as the managing partner for an independent trading account and investment partnership. After 18 years of success, I got the idea for a social media app of sorts. I was really into playing guitar at the time and wanted to develop a way that I could connect with other local people that loved to play guitar as well. That’s when Life In Hi-Fi was born. And that was the spark that eventually ignited Relevnt, which is an interest-driven platform dedicated to real-time voice, text and video conversation centered on topics “relevant” to users.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

As an entrepreneur in the ever-changing technology industry, no day is ever the same, and nothing stays static. So there’s always something interesting in the works. But I would say that the most interesting thing has been the way that our product and the market have evolved to meet each other.

Not long ago, social discovery was all about the follow-me model of connecting with people. But people are getting tired of how “social media” companies are treating them and their data. They want a new way to connect with others in an authentic, uncensored way that enables them to have conversations around the things that they love. They want connections, not to be “followers.” And they don’t want to be canceled or censored just because their opinions or ideas don’t mesh with those of the social gatekeepers.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A life lesson quote that I refer to often is, “take the knowledge and leave the pain.” Let’s face it, being an entrepreneur is a rough business. And launching a product into the market that’s disrupting a few giants doesn’t come without a few major bumps and bruises. But the key is to never focus on the people or situations that caused the pain.

Focusing on the pain of something will only poison your heart and cloud your perspective. It will cause you to make emotional decisions in the future, which isn’t always good for an entrepreneur to do. But if you focus on what you learned from a bad situation, you’ll grow. You’ll fuel your knowledge and not your emotion. And that will make you better.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

First, I am extremely grateful for my father. My dad never gave up and always supported my dreams. This gave me the confidence to be an entrepreneur and the optimism to know that things will eventually work out. Somehow, it will all get figured out. You just have to keep putting one step in front of the other.

The other person that I am extremely grateful for is my good friend Robert Bruce. He has supported me and this venture emotionally, financially and professionally. If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you need a guy like Bob. You need that person that has your back, but that also cares enough to give it to you straight when needed.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I would like to think that that is exactly what we are doing at Relevnt, bringing goodness into the world. Our mission is to give everyone an equal “voice” within their online social experience. Whether you’re a creator, commentator, broadcaster, fan or part of a movement, there is a place for you on Relevnt.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting-edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Relevnt is a mobile-first platform dedicated to real-time voice and video “vibecasts.” Think of them as a series of daily conversations and interactions that match your personal and workplace interests. Like life itself, for each new day, there are fresh new conversations to experience on Relevnt. It’s like having a 24-hour broadcast that you can host, bring participants into or open up as a chatroom-style hangout.

Relevnt vibecasts are centered upon spontaneous, short-term topics, events, and activities that are synchronized with the natural flow of daily life. And they are built around community conversations where everyone starts out with an equal voice and stature. Because the platform democratizes contributions, anyone can have their voice heard, and even become a trendsetter. In contrast, the “follower” model of legacy apps has a social and content hierarchy that boxes the experience around posts and comments. With Relevnt there’s no pressure, weight, or duty to grow and manage a social following.

Relevnt offers true freedom of expression without an ongoing responsibility to nurture every topic, or be concerned about perfect “noncancelable” expression. It’s the social discovery experience people have been asking for.

How do you think this might change the world?

The first generation of social media, built upon a “follower“ model, did not truly bring people together socially. Instead, it turned out to simply be an online people aggregator, manipulator and social divider. What has emerged is an impersonal, parasocial environment that’s not really synchronized with the flow of daily conversations and the passing interactions that fit people’s lives.

True social interaction is not about audience aggregation and “likes,” but rather authentic human connection and togetherness. And that’s how Relevnt is changing the world. From 420 vibes to what’s happening on campus to news, Relevnt offers the next generation of online social interaction that is freer, even from the “follower model” that suppresses so many voices. It’s where inclusive community and entertainment meet empowerment, as users can be moderators and participants can become creators, instantly.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

We’re already experiencing the Black Mirror effects of social media with censorship, tracking, manipulation and data mining. Our goal at Relevnt is to break the Black Mirror and give social discovery back to the people.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

Relevnt started out as a simple journey to connect with others that had an interest in playing guitar. And from there, a long series of breakthroughs have brought the platform to where it is today. But the biggest tipping point has been the missteps of today’s social media giants. Many have lost their way and we felt compelled to bring a solution to market that offers a better experience.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Relevnt has had some amazing organic growth, but now we are focusing on bringing some big-name creators to the platform. We feel this will help us to attract more people at scale. Sports stars, celebrities, media professionals, dynamic thought leaders and more. It’s an exciting time and more clout will help us increase adoption of our technology, while keeping the voices of our users, heard.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

More businesses today rely on remote, decentralized workforces than ever before. As a mobile-first platform that enables people from anywhere to connect remotely, publicly or privately, we fit this model. Think of Relevnt as Discord meets Zoom with the ease of Slack. And that’s how Relevnt can help businesses.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

There are so many things entrepreneurs need to know, and even now I am still learning. But the 5 things that I’ve learned the hard way are:

1). Don’t be rigid in your thinking. It’s good to have a plan and a strategy, but you also have to be open to change. Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that you didn’t plan on. Like Mike Tyson said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

2). Whatever amount of money you think your venture needs, double it. Things always cost more and take longer than you think, especially in technology.

3). Create the product consumers want, not necessarily the one you want. In other words, listen to customers, do market research and invest in user testing.

4). Eat well, get sleep and exercise. If you aren’t healthy you can’t perform at the level that’s required to be a successful entrepreneur. Running a marathon is easier than running a startup.

5). Make it about more than just money. If you’re doing it for money alone, you’re missing half the equation. And your cup will only be half full. The mission matters, so have one.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

The Relevnt movement is all about enabling freedom of expression. We’re giving ​​people a place that’s free, and where it’s easy for them to communicate with others and express themselves.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find Relevnt at Relevnt.com. We’re also on Instagram. And you can follow me on LinkedIn HERE.

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store