We sat down with our CEO and co-founder, Raquel Schafhauser, to learn all about Mobs, how it came to be and where it’s going. We were able to grab just a bit of time with her to ask some questions, as she is busy living between Barcelona and San Francisco, working hard to bring the next video revolution to the market.
Raquel is quite the all-terrain business women with over 15 years of experience in sales and marketing. Daughter to a pioneer of the female software-engineering world in Germany during the 1960s, she has been inspired to take up the mantle of strong female leadership herself, at Mobs. Her father was the founder of a cutting-edge software company in Spain during the 1970s, so it’s clear she comes by her passion for business honestly. She started working for other corporations in sales, marketing, and human resources which gave her the foundational skills needed to start down the path to entrepreneurship.
Raquel moved to the USA and Silicon Valley in the middle of 2013 looking for business adventures. She started out as the Head of International Business Development for a wellness company, managing a team of 16 people for over two years. While she was there she began to develop Tools4training, a venture aimed to introduce cutting-edge training programs for small business. Since then, Raquel has been very active in the entrepreneurial world of Silicon Valley. She has spent her time getting in touch with other startups, helping them, and learning about product development in the tech industry.
Today, Raquel is telling us about the challenges of building a startup that touches two trending sectors: user-generated video and blockchain.
Q: What is Mobs about?
Mobs is a mobile app powered by blockchain that gives people the ability to create and monetize crowdsourced videos.
We are a B2B2C platform that gives marketers a new way to engage their audiences with secure access to real content while providing everyday creators with a tool to generate great videos together. Mobs is the ideal space for marketers and creators to securely monetize together.
Q: Where did the idea for Mobs come from?
My brother/co-founder and I love music festivals. People attend these kinds of large-group events with friends and family. They usually create a chat group in any of the text messaging apps available on the market to coordinate details and to share pictures and videos with each other. However, most of the time the media is left in a smartphone, waiting to be removed or put on a cloud service and forgotten.
We believe that valuable content can be made by combining that media into a crowdsourced video masterpiece. A video story told from every perspective.
Q: Who is the target audience for this project?
With a B2B2C model we actually have two audiences:
One audience is the everyday creator; regular people using their smartphones to generate media content. We are targeting three types of creators: amateurs, professional amateurs, and influencers.
The other is the marketing professional who works for brands, agencies, inside a company, or as a freelancer. Marketing professionals are responsible for marketing campaigns and social media content creation.
Mobs brings the two together.
Q: Why blockchain?
We’ve recognized, the importance of user-generated content (UGC) for marketers since the very beginning. We met with communication agencies, sponsorship companies, brands, and influencers to understand their needs and the problems they face when it comes to incorporating UGC into their marketing strategies.
The problems were basically the same; copyright issues, dealing with middlemen, difficulties finding the right content, and rewarding the creators.
We evaluated different solutions, but the most efficient option was clear; a digital ledger combined with the added advantages of smart contracts.
Q: In which blockchain will the project be launched?
Since our focus is on mastering the collaborative video experience and on triggering virality with good product design, it doesn’t make sense for Mobs to develop its own blockchain. We want to use an existing blockchain technology that is solid and ready for the development process. We have taken the time to evaluate the different options. There are really great products on the market and it is evolving very quickly, but at this moment most new generation blockchain platforms are either in development or in testing stages.
After ruling out Ethereum, mostly for performance and scalability reasons, we have been looking closely into Ardor. Ardor is a Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform that already works and has evolved from Nxt, a blockchain that has been running for five years. It is already scalable, thanks to a parent-child chain architecture with a main chain responsible for security and multiple transactional child chains. Ardor uses an energy efficient Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, which is important for us if we want to achieve mass adoption. Ardor also offers a great set of tools for development, including the recently launched lightweight smart contract, and it provides an ecosystem with other interconnected blockchains. So, as far as technology is concerned, right now, Ardor is our first choice. We have investigated other interesting platforms like Elastos or Stratis, but their development may not be finished in time for the Mobs roadmap milestones.
Q: Tell us a bit about your team members and their strengths?
It never crossed my mind that one day I would co-found a company with my brother. Now that I’m here I ask myself why I didn’t involve him in earlier projects. We both have found the perfect balance, I am in charge of the business and he focuses on the technology.
Andrés is the perfect CTO for this project, he spent half of his life working in video at companies like Yahoo (Connected TV) and Netflix. He has two granted patents and spends his free time playing around with 3D engines. I always say that I feel like I have “Lionel Messi” playing on my team. Having such a great engineer in charge gives me peace of mind, and this is very important at this stage.
The rest of the team is absolutely amazing, and that includes our advisors. They are highly involved and actively work for the betterment of the project.
We have Joan Manel Vilaseca, who comes from the movie industry (Mediapro) and was one of the first blockchain adopters with NXT, in 2013. Rex Ching is a backend developer working alongside Andrés. He is a serial entrepreneur and also a Netflix engineer. Arturo Durán (Polaroid and Prisa) and John Paton (The Guardian and TMT Blockchain fund) come from the media industry, they are investors and blockchain advocates. Verónica Torras (Jelurida — Ardor and NXT- and B-wom founder) does an excellent job guiding us in all things product-marketing. Miles Weinstein (Go-pro) and the never-sleeping BlockchainSaw team are also working hard to make it all happen.
I am very proud of the team we have put together; a very committed team of professionals with the perfect set of much-needed skills in Video, Blockchain, and Media. They come from great companies and have joined us in our fight to make Mobs a reality. Mobs is based on a great idea but would be nothing without this team.
Q: What is your birds-eye-view of the blockchain industry as a whole?
Blockchain technology and smart contracts have a lot of potential with great use case examples. We are still in the early days, but a real consensus is needed when it comes to legislation. We will see more and more BaaS and it will become an attainable commodity for companies.
Q: What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned in gearing up for your startup?
This is not the first time I started a company, so I was already used to dealing with uncertainty, how difficult it is to make things happen, lack of resources, etc.
However, this time has been the wildest.
The crypto market situation is uncertain by nature; no regulation, contradictory information, risks you have to take…it makes the difficulties even more “difficult”.
I think one of the most valuable lessons I have learned this time around is to embrace vulnerability. Embracing the fact that it’s okay not to have all the answers has helped me succeed this far. This has lead to putting together a great team of advisors and dedicated behind-the-scenes mentors as well.
Q: Where do you see video going in the future?
There is no doubt that video is the best way to communicate an idea or story.
Millennials are not subscribing to cable anymore, instead, they’re searching for online streaming services, the internet is the new television consuming platform. TV, the way we know it, is obsolete.
Brands are aware of this shift and in the last five years, we have seen big companies become publishers in one way or another. They are creating new channels and filling those channels with their own video content.
Companies already need a way to easily produce fast and compelling content. I see a future where technology allows everybody to be able to create video stories. From employees of those companies to regular people with their smartphones. Not just a video snap of their holidays, I’m talking about telling the story of their holidays with video.