Melanie Mohr (Founder, CEO) © Jasper Kettner
What inspired you to found your startup?
Before Yeay I worked as a TV producer on music videos, documentaries, prime-time shows and kids’ TV. I was always thinking about new ways to reach audiences. Having three kids I became interested in Gen-Z. I realised there was nothing that enabled them to buy and sell with video. It seemed strange. Surely something so suited to this market should already exist? Especially when TV shopping was and still is such a successful format for older generations! 9 months later Yeay was ready to launch.
How do you define success for yourself and your company?
For me money isn’t the motivator. It comes from passion and loving what I do. And it matters to me that work never compromise the relationship I have with my partner and kids. Having a business and a family shouldn’t be an either/or. For Yeay, it’s seeing that there is a need for the thing the team put everything into bringing to life. Creating something that makes shopping fun and social. And giving independent-minded teens a way to stand on their own and build successful brands and businesses.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?
We wanted to go global from day one – that’s unheard of for a marketplace – so we worked like crazy to make the app available in 21 languages within a few months of launching. We didn’t make it easy on ourselves! Let me get back to you in a few months on whether it was the right decision!
What problem does your product solve?
Retail isn’t keeping up with mobile technology or the changing expectations of generations born and bred on it. At the same time advertising is losing its edge to teenagers who are learning how to tell better stories through their own social channels. Yeay was made for mobile, designed for video and built to fuel the creativity of today’s teenagers – while giving brands the opportunity to get closer and collaborate with them.
Where do you see your company in 1/5/10 years?
Mobile shopping is on the rise. And Generation Z are fueling it even more than millennials. We want to be the leading mobile commerce platform for the next generation of shoppers – and the pioneers of an entirely new genre of product videos. We’ve got an exciting product roadmap to help us get there – and so many new features that we are releasing new updates almost every couple of weeks now.
How are you different?
Our UI and UX are different to the competition. I wanted to build a mobile marketplace for people to sell and buy with video. The use case, the design, the user experience were all created for this. It wasn’t an add-on. Yeay was also designed for vertical video from the get-go. Only Snapchat did this when we started. But my kids will never turn their phones horisontally unless they are lounging in bed. People are mostly on the go and that’s how Yeay was created – an on-the-go mobile experience.
How often does your product/service show up in a user’s day or week?
People don’t buy things every day, but they do want to be entertained daily. Yeay serves both purposes – a marketplace as well as a social platform where someone might come to be entertained. People will open the app every time they have something to sell, which could be a few times a week, or to buy – and in between they will keep checking back in to swipe through the latest videos from brands and influencers they follow, reply to messages, or simply to see who’s engaging with their content.
Impact: how are you doing good and building a better future?
We’re genuinely excited by the teenagers growing up today with so much entrepreneurial ambition and desire to turn their hobbies into a way to make a living. We’re behind them all the way, providing guidance and a platform for them to build something for themselves. We also support young and independent designers and brands, helping them produce quality content and giving them maximum exposure in front of our global audience.
How has the startup scene in Berlin changed?
More than anything it’s caught the attention of the global stage. According to Ernst & Young, Berlin startups raised €2.4 billion in VC funding in 2015 – that’s more than London or Stockholm. Big funds in the US and Asia now have their eyes on Berlin. It’s an exciting time to be here.
What are the pros and cons of launching your startup from Berlin?
Berlin is a hub for tech startups and has a strong creative heritage. There’s still a sense of the underground in this city, a raw creativity that perhaps comes from all the artists that originally moved here and set up studios when cities like London and Brooklyn got too pricey. That’s attractive to talent – people move from all over the world to work here, and we can see it right here at Yeay. There are 36 people in our team from more than 16 different countries.
Bonus Question: Anything else that we need to know about you?
Reid Hoffman said that if you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late. I don’t think that commandment is quite true anymore, especially when dealing with teens. If you’re a video app, they expect it to be as good as YouTube from the start. Social – as good as Instagram, and commerce – as good as Amazon. YEAY is all of those elements in one product. We’ve got limited budget and resources – but we’re working hard to meet those expectations!
Yeay was featured in “The Hundert Vol. 10 – Startups of Berlin“, October 2017.