NYLP: Welcome to the New York Launch Pod, a podcast on new start-ups, businesses and openings in New York City area. I’m Hal Coopersmith. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about news and particularly the Wermz app. And stepping onto Launch Pod, we have Clinton Grusd and Ally Vaughn of Wermz. Welcome to the podcast, Clinton and Ally.
Clinton and Ally: Thank you.
Ally: Thanks for having us. We’re excited to be here.
NYLP: So what is Wermz?
Clinton: Wermz is a platform which allows users to discover and explore what they’re interested in. I think what you see is a revolution going on with mobile and how people actually access what they consider news. And we found that there is a hole in the way that people can actually discover essentially their interest graph. And so we created this platform which creates this immersive and personalized experience to create a feed of all of the different topics you’re interested in and then go explore them in detail.
NYLP: So just taking a step back and saying, “News app are on everyone’s phone.”
Clinton: Yes, that’s right.
Ally: Hopefully, it’s on everyone’s phone.
NYLP: And so what does it do?
Clinton: So essentially what it does is, think of it as your own personalized newspaper. So you go in and you say, “I’m interested in these topics.” Whether it’s, for me, I’m a Dodgers fan, a Lakers fan and I’m also interested in politics and so I create my news stream based around those topics. But it’s completely personalized, whereas Ally will have completely different interests in…
Ally: Beyonce, Katy Perry, New York Yankees and the Saints.
Clinton: Exactly and so what it does is it will essentially crawl the entire web and figure out what’s relevant specific to each person. Then once it determines the important pieces of content, it will distribute that to the individual person.
Ally: Yeah, it’s a whole new way to experience news. So you read articles, you get to find articles from publishers that you might not have thought to go on their website or thought to download their app, but we find that for you and we send it to you so you get different perspectives of each topic that you care about. And then you also get to get fully immersed in it so you get to see video, you get to read statistics, you get to see related content. And it just helps you become better informed and better at cocktail parties.
NYLP: But aren’t there lots of news apps on people’s phones or in the various app stores now? I mean, how is this different than what’s already out there?
Clinton: There are a bunch of different news apps, and this actually is a very hot space. You see the big guys such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple, coming out with their own news. Where we differ is we’re really focused on people’s interests and not so much on, “I like a certain publisher,” whether it’s Wall Street Journal or New York Times. “But I like these specific topics and I may like some publishers too.” But we’re really focused on that interest graph initially. Then once you actually start consuming that content, where we really focus on is, “Okay, the user is interested in this piece of content. How do I actually go and explore that content in more depth?”
So we place a lot of emphasis on, as Ally was just saying, if she’s interested in Katy Perry, once she reads an article or consumes any type of media on Katy Perry, then immediately she will get other content related to Katy Perry, whether it’s images or whether it’s music, whether it’s video or other articles. And she’ll get an entirely different perspective, from all different sources, on exactly what’s going on with Katy Perry.
Ally: And other artists and links to download music, and it’s just a full experience.
NYLP: So who would you say is your main competitor?
Clinton: You know, I think the biggest guys out there are, obviously, Flipboard, Apple just came out with their app, and we definitely wouldn’t discard Facebook, really the big guys.
Ally: Twitter Moments.
Clinton: Right, exactly.
Ally: Everybody’s trying to do it and do it in different ways, so competition is good, and I think that there is room for everyone to figure out a way to provide content to the public. And at the end of the day, we are all trying to achieve the same goal, which is to create a better, more informed society.
NYLP: So all these big guys are in this space. What’s going to be your competitive advantage?
Clinton: I think our competitive advantage is really, really nailing what the actual user wants. I think we have focused so heavily on our technology, our algorithms are so good at actually figuring out, “Okay, here’s all this content. Let’s just go figure out what the user wants.” I think you start seeing things such as Twitter, on the one hand, which is a complete firehose of everything so it’s real time news. Whereas on the other end of the spectrum, you have Facebook, and they’re pushing up content based off of what your friends actually like or what’s popular within the Facebook ecosystem.
We take ourselves out of that and put ourselves in the middle and actually focus directly on the user. And they could completely personalize, not based off of what your friends are…
Ally: Although we do that as well, I mean you can see what your friends are reading and liking. There’s this social component to the app as well.
Clinton: There’s a social component, but we use that social component really to deliver content based off of what that user is interested in.
Ally: So that’s what’s cool, right? Because it’s a totally personalized electronic newspaper that works for your grandmother on her iPad to discover content. Or for me or for our 16 year-old dog walker, who also uses Wermz and can find what she cares about.
NYLP: How do you aggregate the interests? How does it learn more about the user?
Clinton: There are a few ways we do it. Initially, as a user first goes into the app, the user will give us an idea of what they’re interested in and they’ll start to follow different feeds and streams. In addition, if they link their Facebook and Twitter profiles and other social media profiles, which they don’t have to, we can pick up what they’re interested in. So from the get-go, we have a pretty good idea of what they want to read and what they don’t want to read and content they want to consume and content they don’t want to consume.
More importantly, we have algorithms that determine once a user’s actually consuming that content, we figure out, “Okay, this user likes this or doesn’t like it.” And based off of that, we have a very robust technology to then, from that point on, deliver them content that they’re going to want to consume.
Ally: Yeah, so our algorithm knows what’s related. The more people read, obviously, the more it can tell what else they might like and it can suggest new content and help people stay in the app and discover new things that maybe they wouldn’t have discovered, had they just been reading the front page of the paper or just scrolling through a website.
Clinton: Just to go back to your earlier question, how does this differentiate us from your typical news app? One thing that we really wanted to get away from is…your traditional publishers are just a bunch of guys in the newsroom.
Ally: Or girls.
Clinton: Or girls in the newsroom, who are looking at a bunch of content and say, “Okay, well, this is interesting to everyone, so let’s push this out,” such as New York Times or Wall Street Journal. But we really wanted to focus on the actual person.
NYLP: So do you keep the dossiers on individual users? It’s a little bit freaky if you’re learning so much about me and my interests. Maybe I like Katy Perry too and I don’t want to share that interest. How does the privacy aspect work?
Ally: This is something that all of our friends ask too because they’re all in the app and they want to know, are we watching what they’re reading?
Clinton: Right, and they’re all Katy Perry fans and they don’t want anyone to know.
Ally: But we don’t know that.
Clinton: Right. Once you’re actually using the app, you don’t share any content outside of the app unless you actively choose to share it. But as far as our end, it’s really machines that are just recommending that content, so there aren’t any people actually doing the recommendations.
Ally: And so based on just keywords. It’s keyword associations that we have them program-done. And it’s not looking at individual people, it’s looking more collectively.
Clinton: Yeah, so it’s really just the machines doing all the work.
NYLP: How do the machines work?
Ally: That’s confidential. You know we can’t give you our trade secrets. I mean Apple will come for us.
Clinton: Yeah, so just, in short, essentially, we figure out, we use certain metrics figuring out how often a user will consume a content related a specific interest. And as they keep touching upon that, then we’re able to determine, “Okay, this user likes it or does not like it.” But in addition to that, some of it is just very simple. The user will give us feedback. The user will tell us they do not like this content, and that goes into our algorithm. And once they tell us they don’t like it or they do like it, then our algorithm tweaks specific to that person.
NYLP: How long did it take for you to come up with the algorithm?
Clinton: It’s an interesting question because I don’t think there will ever be an end to that algorithm. That algorithm continues to change. It’s not a static process, it’s something much more dynamic. We’ve been working on it for three years, but I…
NYLP: Three years?
Clinton: Three years, yeah. It’s taken a lot of work. I think that is something that we’ll continue to work on. The algorithms will get smarter and smarter as more people use it, as more time goes by, as there is more content. So far, we’ve been working on it for three years, but that is really the bread and butter of the entire system, and I think we’ll continue to be working on that.
Ally: Yeah, we spent three years just trying to perfect the user experience because it’s all about people going in and enjoying the app, learning, exploring, having a positive experience, and that’s why they’re going to come back. So it’s been super important to us to get that right and to develop it and make it actually something that people enjoy using.
NYLP: There’s no way of looking up the user on what they are interested in from your end? It’s completely anonymous?
Clinton: So we do keep that information specific to people, and that’s how we’re able to actually deliver the content that’s relevant to them. But we don’t actually have a person going in and looking in that content and figuring out, “Okay, Hal likes Katy Perry.”
Ally: So the machine recognizes unique users, and that’s how it comes up with the totally curated content. So that’s a part of the experience and to make it totally personalized, it has to know who you are.
NYLP: Where do you get your news sources from?
Clinton: Part of those three years was also writing an algorithm to determine what’s news and what’s not news. So we don’t actually distinguish among publishers per se. It’s really…we look at all content and then it goes through our filters, and then we say, “Is this newsworthy or is it not newsworthy?” And if it hits, “Yes, this is newsworthy,” then we’ll start to go through our system. I think that becomes more difficult as there’s this fusion going on with among different types of content. And what was news a year ago or so is not necessarily news now, or that definition of news actually has expanded. So it’s difficult to determine but it’s really just done through our…
Ally: Companies can publish their earnings notices on Twitter, disclose material information on Twitter now. So the world is constantly changed, and we’re trying to figure out ways to incorporate that. I think it’s important to note that we don’t promote publishers and we don’t favor one over the other. We see ourselves solely as a vessel to deliver content.
NYLP: So you don’t choose New York Times versus Wall Street Journal, the user chooses that in terms of what they are interested in?
Ally: Well, they can choose publishers to follow or they can choose interests, and then based on what’s being promoted and produced at the time, that’s what they’ll see based on that interest. So if it’s the Times put out an article or the Washington Post or the Washington Examiner or whatever it may be, that’s what they’ll see.
NYLP: What about taking that one step further, where people are in their own bubble of their own interest and don’t really get exposed to new ideas or new concepts or new viewpoints whereas they otherwise would from a general standpoint, when there were general-interest news programs, newspapers, etc.?
Clinton: Right, so that was definitely a concern we had when developing the app, and really our goal was to create a platform where you would get all different perspectives. And so even though you are viewing content within your specific interest, once you actually consume that content, we will show you all related content to that so you actually get all different perspectives.
Ally: Yeah, but if you also just want to quickly see what’s going on in the world that maybe everyone should care about, there’s a trending page, too. So there’s a tab to see everything that’s going on in the world and then there’s a tab to see what’s relevant to you and what you have identified as what you care about.
NYLP: How do your content providers make money?
Ally: We’re just pushing users out to them so ultimately we can create more traffic on their sites. But we don’t pay to take their content because we are just we’re just aggregating it and pushing people back to them.
NYLP: So it’s a link to the content providers?
Ally: Exactly, yeah. So if you have a subscription on the New York Times, you can click through Wermz into the Times and read your article. If not, you need to pay for the article.
NYLP: And it’s the New York Times advertising and their revenue model that makes money for them?
NYLP: So how much does your app cost?
Clinton: It’s free.
Ally: It’s free.
NYLP: That’s wonderful.
Ally: It’s a gift, right?
NYLP: It’s great. How are you going to make money?
Clinton: I think our goal right now is just to create the best user experience possible and get as many users as we can.
Ally: We feel like any time you have something with that many users, there’s a way to monetize it. And just like Facebook had to figure that out, or Twitter, or any of the big social media sites that people use, the money tends to follow the users.
NYLP: How many users do you have now?
Clinton: We are growing very quickly. Right now, we’re not that concerned with the absolute number of users. We’re growing very quickly. We launched in July, and since then, every single day really has been a record day for us. And so that is…
Ally: We don’t even celebrate record days anymore. It’s just become the norm.
Ally: Just kidding, we still celebrate.
Clinton: What we’re actually most interested in is not how many sign-ups we’re getting but how many users are coming back. And what we’re very excited about is that people are signing up and coming back very often. That lets us know that our algorithms are working, that our user experience is working and that people actually like the app.
Ally: And find it useful, right? That’s the key.
Clinton: Right, and so that makes us happy. That’s a very positive sign for us.
NYLP: How long will a Wermz user stay on the app?
Clinton: A Wermz user stays on the app actually for quite a long time, probably it’s about between four and five minutes every time they sign in to the app. And they get through a bunch of articles and they’re completely up to date. And that’s what makes us happy.
Ally: Yeah, if you think about it, it’s a fun way to figure out what’s going on. You’re in an elevator, you swipe in the app really quickly. You have a few minutes between catching the subway or catching a bus or you’re in a cab and you can quickly read the paper. The idea is that users can jump in and out of the apps, spend some time, as much time as they want but ultimately, they kick out and they can read about the stuff they really care about in great detail.
NYLP: Can I send an alert, like a Google alert, for things that I’m interested in?
Clinton: Yes, you can. So the goal really is to create this absolute platform where you’re getting alerts on everything that you’re interested in. And we’ve been testing out, “I want to create an alert on whatever it is.” So you go in and you create that, and then you’ll start getting push notifications on that. We started out having that function for everyone but because actually we’re growing too quickly to really accommodate everyone, we scaled that back. So that option is in there, but we haven’t actually made it as prominent as we should and so we’re still working to make that a…
Ally: I think it’s a really delicate balance between what’s useful and what you need to be interrupted doing. If you’re, say, at work or you’re in a meeting or you’re a teacher and you’re teaching a class or whatever it is. What’s useful and worth interrupting your day, and what’s just a nice to know that maybe can wait and you can read in the app later. So we’re still trying to figure out what is that right balance of what deserves a push alert. And that’s tough to do.
NYLP: So a lot of this audience is New York-based. I do a lot of my reading in the subway. Is it possible for me to read in the subway?
Ally: Yeah, definitely, and I think it’s relevant for people not in New York who fly and want to be able to download content or access content while they’re in the air.
Clinton: Right, that is definitely a feature that’s very useful. So the first thing we did is we made it compatible with other types of bookmark and apps such as Readability, for example. So you can save all your articles to there and then go view them through Wermz. We also have our own bookmark feature within Wermz itself, and you can save all your articles within Wermz and then view them later as well.
NYLP: So I need to go in and bookmark before I head into the subway?
NYLP: And then I can read?
Ally: Yeah, I created a little reading list for later.
NYLP: What was it like working on the algorithm for three years?
Ally: Yeah, I’m results oriented, so that sounds like torture to me.
Clinton: Yeah, it’s intense, but as I was mentioning earlier, it’s just a complete dynamic process, so it’s not that, “Oh, three years later, we finally got it.” It’s more like you have the first week and you got a part of it. Then you have the second week, and you got another part of it. And so it’s…
NYLP: And then 156 weeks later…
Clinton: Yes, you’re very good at math. Yeah, so and then 156 weeks later, then, “Okay, well, this actually completely works.”
Ally: But still we were on the way over here today, talking about other things that we want to tweak a little bit in the app. Like you’re saying, it’s totally dynamic and something that’s never going to be finished but it’s super satisfying as you come up with ways to improve it. And you realize, like, “Oh my gosh, that was pretty obvious. We could have tweaked that all along.” And then you see it working too, you see people, and they’re using it, and it works.
Clinton: Right, but I don’t think that’s so dissimilar to any technology company. The algorithms are constantly being tweaked, whether it’s Google, Facebook, what you see in a newsfeed on Facebook or what you see as your search results. I think even as recent as a month ago or so, Google was tweaking their algorithm for what’s showing up in their mobile search results. And so I think algorithms inherently are dynamic.
Ally: And I think that’s true for all companies. I’m a huge fan of Lululemon, and they take feedback all the time about where to put the zipper or how to move the fabric in a better way with people. So I think companies…and when you’re building a business, it’s totally dependent on users and consumers, then you constantly need to update it and improve it to make it work for your audience.
NYLP: What are some of the features that you want to add?
Clinton: There are a million features we want to add. I think the focus right now is we’ve put in a bunch of features and now we really want to perfect them. And also, quite frankly, we love hearing from users. And users really give us the best feedback on…one of the main features I think you just touched upon is actually getting that content quickly, whether it’s in the subway or whether you don’t have good service.
Ally: Or you don’t like our logo. We like all feedback.
Clinton: Right, those are the big ones.
NYLP: What are your backgrounds?
Clinton: So I started my career as a lawyer, I was an anti-trust lawyer. I started at the Department of Justice, in the Anti-trust Division, and I focused on tech and media. And that was really how I got into this whole publishing thing, where I first learned about it. But by doing anti-trust law, I became very interested in actually the business side of things, and so that’s what actually led to starting businesses.
Ally: I’m also a lawyer, totally random background. I can maybe have a reality show on it, but my story is I practiced law in southern Mississippi and moved to New York and ended up working in finance. Still actively working in finance, met Clinton in New York and got involved in Wermz and believe in the message of what he’s doing and got really excited to find a way to help him and get it out there.
NYLP: Why the news industry?
Clinton: The news industry, I think, has been struggling to keep up with technology and particularly with mobile. I think on the one side of things, you have publishers who have not embraced first the Internet and then mobile. So we wanted to create a platform where you can actually access all the content you want from any publisher you want. And then, in addition to that, news has gone so far beyond what publishers themselves are pushing out. I think it’s been difficult for users to actually get everything they’re interested in. There’s just so much content out there. The problem is, how do you get what you’re interested in? And so, we really wanted to focus on that and solve that problem.
NYLP: Can people make money in news?
Clinton: Absolutely. I think the traditional business model of news is, going way back to the earliest newspapers, getting a lot of people on it, and you make money through…it’s really advertising. And the biggest component, I think, is classified advertising. Definitely, publishers also charge a subscription, but I think most of their revenue comes through advertising. I think that’s really all type of media. There are two ways. You’re either subscription or advertising. So I think there are definitely opportunities to generate revenue.
I think where publishers have struggled, though, is they have not been able to keep up with the tech side of things and they’ve been lagging as far as innovation is concerned. So the guys who have done very well, such as New York Times, they have really put focus on their brand, as well as their tech, whereas other publishers have been struggling in that sense.
NYLP: What about monitoring quality and accuracy?
Clinton: That is definitely a challenge because on the one hand, you want to create a platform or a distribution mechanism where everyone’s voice can be heard, whether you think that’s quality journalism or not, and that’s actually very subjective. On the other hand, you want to filter out content that you don’t think is really newsworthy or which isn’t up to a high enough standard. So you want to try and fit somewhere in between but you also, I think, particularly in today’s world, where people have access to a lot of information, I think the goal really is to allow people decide what they want to consume, rather than having some editor just decide, “This is quality and this is not quality.”
NYLP: What type of stories do people want?
Clinton: I think everyone is different. I think as Ally said earlier, our target audience is really everyone. And the reason why it’s everyone is because everyone is different, everyone wants to consume different content. Everyone has different interests, and so I can’t actually answer that question. I don’t know what people really want. The goal…
Ally: The machine does.
Clinton: Right, the goal is to let them figure out themselves what they want and then have our machine help them out a little bit.
NYLP: If people are spending a limited amount of time with your app though, it seems as though people are not interested in in‐depth stories?
Clinton: I’m not sure if that’s right. I think really the goal is figure out something that they’re interested in and then allow them to explore wide and deep. And so whether it’s just a headline about Obama and then going in and seeing all the latest news on Obama or anything that’s related to…if Hilary Clinton is suddenly in that story and then go and explore something on Hilary Clinton. Really the goal is to allow for that exploration, and so I’m not sure that just because they don’t find an article upfront that they can explore in depth that doesn’t allow for more exploration as they continue.
Ally: And I want to also add to that. Remember that people…we link out to the source of the content. So people jump over and read the full article and then they come back and they spend another three to four minutes reading into that and finding headlines or articles that are interesting to them and then they jump back out. So there’s a constant movement of people, and that’s exactly what we want. We want people to experience it, we want people to go and learn more and read more and come back into the app.
NYLP: So you’ve been doing this full‐time for three years?
Clinton: Yes, that’s right. I started this company while I was in business school. New was just very difficult. What we feel very good about is that we definitely hit the right spot. All the big players are trying to do what we’re doing, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple. Everyone’s trying to go into that space and no one has really cracked the code. So we feel very confident and actually feel very good about ourselves that we nailed the right spot.
Ally: And perfect timing.
Clinton: Yeah, but it’s a very, very difficult problem to solve.
NYLP: Is it just you two who are working on the app?
Clinton: It’s the main characters in the story, it’s myself and my CTO, Matt Choate. And we’ve been really going full on for the last three years.
Ally: And then a full team of developers that work with Matt.
NYLP: How are you funded?
Clinton: We’re self-funded, we’re bootstrapped, which is actually where we want to be and allows us to keep complete control. And it also, interestingly, it allows us to really focus on what we think is important. We have to be very sensitive to our cost structure, which means that every decision we make, we have to determine, “Okay, is this the right way to go or not?” So I think it’s actually been a blessing in disguise because it’s allowed us to really nail and focus on the product.
NYLP: How much money have you spent?
Ally: Money is a sensitive topic.
Clinton: No, we spent actually, surprisingly, very little, considering how much we’ve done. And so when I hear about companies raising tens and tens of millions of dollars…
Ally: Some raised over $70 million, maybe $80 million.
Clinton: Yeah, it really strikes me as bizarre because we really are a bootstrapped company with limited resources, limited people, and yet we’ve been able to accomplish so much with the little that we’ve put into it. And so it’s actually been very cool for us to see, and I don’t think anyone would actually believe how few resources and few people have been working on it just based off of our productivity.
NYLP: I can’t believe it. I don’t even know what the number is.
Ally: It’s pretty cool. It’s also, we’ve been lucky to be introduced to some really talented people who have their own companies and we hired them to work with us on a consultancy basis. And we have this super talented, you can see it in the app, graphic artist who works with us, and she’s a genius and she does great things. So we’ve been able to be really efficient with how we spend our money.
NYLP: So you guys are efficient. How are you going to compete with…there are huge names, a lot of companies with big time resources, you’ve mentioned a few. How are you going to say, “All right, we’re gonna win in this field.”
Clinton: Any person looking up and seeing the very big guys, and those are the guys that are in this space, Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook, you would probably be scared. But we’re not, and the reason why we’re not is, A, we’ve been working on this for a long time. We feel like our technology is better. The challenge that we run into is actual distribution, whereas they can just pour as much money as they want into actually distributing their platforms. That’s where we’re going to really have to fight. But for us, it’s really, “Let’s try and get as many users as we can, and the users that we have, really focus on them and figure out the best experience for them so that they really get a lot of benefit out of our app.”
NYLP: Aside from this podcast, how have you been able to get the word out?
Clinton: A lot of what we’ve done is really focused on social media and so we’ve done a lot of posts to Facebook, Twitter and a lot of just really pounding the pavement, literally just going up to people on the street and saying, “Hey…”
Ally: “I see you’re reading this article on this website.”
Clinton: Right, it’s literally just going up to everyone.
Ally: And what’s been so cool about it is that it has grown really organically. So we dropped it into the Apple store, prior to even launching, and just to watch it grow and reviews to start coming in. And then at first we thought only our friends and family and people we were telling about it were actually downloading the app and using it. But then suddenly, we started getting these reviews from all over the world from people clearly we don’t know who are using the app, enjoying it, who are tweeting articles they’re reading from the app. And it’s just really taken off organically, which is awesome to watch.
Clinton: Right, best feeling in the world is when we get all the feedback and when we get all the emails sent into us, whether it’s bad feedback or good feedback, any feedback. It’s just a great feeling that people are actually taking the time to write and say, “Hey, I like this. I don’t like this.”
NYLP: What’s been the hardest part?
Ally: We’ll probably have very different answers.
Clinton: Yeah, so you want to go first?
Ally: I would say just moving it forward, because we have been so focused on the experience that, at times, it’s tough to keep moving forward and progressing, when we’re trying to take 10 steps back and tweak things and improve things. And when we’re running towards the goal but you have to do it slowly, it can be very frustrating.
Clinton: You know, actually, I don’t think we have that different views on this. The hardest part by far is having a vision and know where you want to be and also having the patience to get there. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about taking step by step until you actually get to where you want to be. But it takes a lot of work and a lot of focus and…
Ally: I think anybody with a vision who’s trying to build that vision can share that pain.
Clinton: Right, it’s on the tip of your fingernail. You could see where you want to be, but it just takes a lot, a lot of work.
Ally: And I think that also brings back the point of the feedback, so people send in emails and they say, “This doesn’t work.” And we think, “Oh my gosh, of course, it doesn’t work. That’s so smart, and they’re using it. They get the vision and they see why it doesn’t work.” And it’s rewarding but it takes patience.
NYLP: Where do you want to be?
Clinton: So I think…
Ally: …on everyone’s phone, Android and iPhone.
Clinton: I think Ally nailed it on that the business side of things where we want to be. As far as the product side of things, really the goal is to create this completely seamless, immersive experience where you immediately get all the content you want at your fingertips in a very simple, seamless way.
Ally: Yeah, we’re mission focused. So we built this company, we’re doing this…Clinton has invested three years of his life doing this. But at the end of the day, we want to encourage people to know about what’s going on in the world and become better informed. And we think we can do that by making a smart, efficient, enjoyable experience in an app.
NYLP: What’s your goal for number of users, aside from the entire world? What’s your next goal, for example?
Ally: Is that not a realistic goal?
Clinton: You know, I don’t actually, I never focus on that. I don’t focus on how many users we’re going to get. I focus on building out the best possible product that we can and I know once we get there, then the users will come.
NYLP: How did you come up with the name?
Clinton: The name really comes from “bookworm,” someone who likes to read. It doesn’t fit perfectly. Once people get used to it, they like it.
Ally: We’ve tried to change it before we launched and we’ve gone back to Wermz. We love it and we can’t get rid of it.
Clinton: Yeah, and it’s not just us. Any time that we’ve thrown out a different name, people have come back and said, “Why have you actually changed the name?”
Ally: Yeah, and at the end of the day, that’s it, that’s who our readers are and our users are. They’re people who are heavily involved in reading and they’re bookworms.
NYLP: So it’s Wermz, W E R M Z?
NYLP: And how do people find out more about you?
Clinton: They can go to our website, www.wermz.com.
Ally: Just wermz.com.
NYLP: With a Z?
Clinton: With a Z, and more importantly, they can go and download the app.
NYLP: iPhone, Android?
Clinton: Not Android yet. We’re focused on iPhone, but Android is coming out.
NYLP: Well, Ally Vaughn, Clinton Grusd, thank you for sharing your time with us and stepping onto the New York Launch Pod.
Clinton: Thank you so much, thanks for having us.
Ally: Yeah, this is awesome. Thank you so much.
NYLP: If you want to learn more about the New York Launch Pod, you can visit nylaunchpod.com or follow us on social media @nylaunchpod.SHARE THIS: