Ello and Binded: ‘Shipping Product to Unlock Growth, Create Impact, and Add Value

There’s a couple things you should know about me: I am a chronic early adopter and I am an incurable BlockChain fangirl. I’ve got user profiles in all sorts of failed and defunct social networks that were supposed to be the FaceBook killer. I troll ICOs for fun.

One long forgotten sign up was way back in 2014. Don’t know if y’all remember the kerfuffle when FaceBook started banning people who didn’t want to use their real names. Something I can sympathise with. I have many digital identities that I like to keep separate. Ironically, I have two FaceBook accounts and one of them, with an obviously stupidly fake name, is still active. The issue with FaceBook’s policy was that it seemed to target LGBQT people. Something that the platform has never remedied.

Well, someone saw this and thought: what if we could have a social network where people could actually be anonymous or use whatever identity they were comfortable with. A safe online space for all sorts of people who are marginalised in mainstream social networks.

The result was Ello. The FaceBook killer I quickly signed up to and then promptly forgot about because no one else I knew was interested in trying it out.


Ello is actually still around and, apparently, thriving. But not as they originally intended. They must have realised very quickly that taking down FaceBook without generating revenue from advertising was the fevered dream of giant hookah smoking caterpillars. They have pivoted to position themselves as an online community for artists. A Linkedin for professional creatives if you will.

People can post their work and write articles. You can follow people in an Instagram or Pinterest like way. There is commenting on art that gets posted like you can do on YouTube. It is a fresh and interesting place to hang out and still ad free. The lack of advertising makes it a zen-like alternative to all the terrible third party noise on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Online communities for artists are not a new idea (see Flickr, Deviant Art, etc) but this idea of making it about professional networking is rather new and interesting.

But their business model is nebulous at best. They don’t make money from selling ad space and targeting users because they don’t sell data and don’t gather data that would make this possible. They do work with sponsors who will pay to post content, but only if it is a good fit for the community and the sponsors are running a contest for creative content. I read on wikipedia that they let users link out to online stores and generate some sort of affiliate income if purchases are made.

But what value is in it that can’t be derived from other social networks or online creative communities. If I am an artist I have so many other options to build my profile and following. Platforms that allow me to pitch for creative jobs. Platforms where I can post a portfolio. Platforms with hundreds of millions of users. Ello has 1 million.

The same day that I learned Ello was still in the land of the online, I discovered BlockChain start up Binded. For once not some ICO or token sale. They’ve got some heavy duty Angels behind them. It is a simple and beautiful idea: the democratisation of copyright. An online app that uses Blockchain to provide instant copyright protection to artists. They claim it is the world’s first copyright platform. And it is free.

All you do is create your account and start uploading images. Or there are integrations (using FileStack) for other image sharing platforms like Instagram. They create a unique fingerprint for your image and register it on the Blockchain (Bitcoin in this case). You can then monitor the internet for matches of your image to see where it is being used.

They have a roadmap that includes infringement remediation services and content monetisation (Buy Now buttons for work posted). They have a more robust business model than Ello and hopefully the VC won’t run out before they can start generating revenue.

So you have a platform where artists are uploading and sharing their work to get discovered and land jobs. You have a platform that automatically copyrights your images when you upload them.

Is it just me or should these two crazy kids just get together already?

How much more value could Ello deliver if they offered free and frictionless copyright registry and monitoring as part of their application? As a user of that platform I don’t need to put files in two different places. As a potential buyer of art posted on Ello I will have the added comfort of knowing that the work I am buying (something that Ello doesn’t seem to offer directly in their platform at the moment) is the work of the person I am buying it from.

Binded would immediately have 1 million new users. They could farm out the buying process to Ello and focus on copyright products and services. The monetisation opportunities are many. Ello could pay Binded a license for using the services. It could be a click charge. Ello could even charge for the service in their platform. It could be a subscription upgrade. If a purchase is made in Ello, Binded would get a percentage.

Ello could even work with Binded to create a BlockChain token for their network where contributors and active users are rewarded for uploading, sharing, commenting, and other activities in much the same way Steemit and Flixxo work.

In product management it is often difficult to get outside of your bubble. You need to focus on building impactful features that add value. Value that will increase sales or drive adoption or simply keep you in the market. There is so much to do for your own product, why would one waste time on looking at someone else’s product when it doesn’t even seem to be in the same space as yours is? Gotta keep shipping right?

You need to do this because you could discover something that will help you add that all important value without having to discover and develop it yourself. Working with a partner, like Ello and Binded could work together, unlocks opportunities for both parties. Not just for added value but for exploring additional revenue streams, user bases, and buyers.

Take a look at your roadmap and then spend some time looking outside your bubble. You could find your perfect match! Sometimes ‘shipping can add much more value than just plain old shipping.

(Get it? See what I did there? Shipping? You know, like relationSHIPPING. Is this thing on?)

That’s the third thing you need to know about me: I cannot resist a good pun. Or even a terrible one. Happy Producting!

Hi there, my name is Clare and I have over 15 years of experience in leading product and development teams, product management and ownership, and systems architecture. Whether it is building a market driven product, discovering a better strategy, understanding how your structure may be hampering your goals, or mentoring junior product managers and product marketers in the Pragmatic Marketing framework, I can help you unlock growth, revenue, and profit through better product management. I am a craft beer and blockchain enthusiast.

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