By Joe Procopio
Seriously? Wait, how many bands?
When deja Mi founder Justin Miller first dropped hints to me back in May about what would become deja Fest, it sounded intriguing. He painted a picture of an old-school launch party, complete with bands, beverages, and big-shots.
Of course I was in. That’s sort of my thing.
And his strategy made perfect sense. See, deja Mi is a venue-based media sharing application, fancy-speak for an app that takes your pictures, video, audio, any kind of digital content from an event, and uploads and categorizes it in a single album for that venue. All real time.
Local. Music. Tonight.
So you go to a show, and immediately after — hell, even during, you can relive (or immerse yourself in) said show, minute by minute, snapshot by snapshot – or, if you can’t make the show, you can watch or hear the whole thing as it’s streamed to you.
Better yet, if you happen to be out in downtown Raleigh after dinner at any one of the awesome restaurants that have sprung up, deja Mi can give you a full audio/visual menu of what’s happening around you.
No friends, no followers, no privacy concerns.
Cool app. Good reason to throw a party.
But Wait, There’s More
Things got out of hand, in a good way.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed by Miller and his gang that there’s been a veritable boom in media-sharing apps, especially those launched in the last six months. deja Mi is unique in the sense that it uses location and media sharing in a very efficient manner and marries the two through individual events.
The app stands out, but in order to stand out in the marketing shuffle, they realized they needed to create a major footprint right out of the gate. They talked about it and, going back to the roots of how the company was conceived, decided to tie the launch to the music scene.
A planned one-off concert-style launch party quickly grew into a couple bands at a couple different venues and then evolved into a monster two-day festival bringing in big names while including local bands in the mix.
Thus, deja Fest
All in all, it’s 26 acts at six different venues over two days plus an all-ages portion on a closed-off Cabarrus Street.
And it’s free.
So drop whatever it is you’re doing tonight and tomorrow (that’s Friday July 22nd and Saturday the 23rd if you ignored my tweets), and get to downtown Raleigh, because we haven’t seen anything like this in ten years, and probably won’t see anything like it again for a while.
The Return of the Lavish Launch?
I’m old enough to remember the bubble parties circa 1998-2001. And let’s get one thing straight. They were awesome.
Back in the day, technology was my ticket to front row seats at the Brian Setzer Orchestra (Thanks, Microsoft!), backstage badges at SXSW (Thanks, Vignette!), and all kinds of ridiculous, superfluous excuses for not having a revenue model.
Personally, I’m trying to revive that sense of fun in the technology world, especially in the startup ecosystem and deliberately in the RTP. Fun is healthy, and it can go a long way towards turning triples into home runs. Fun is necessary.
I’m also the first one to step up and say enough is enough when a Dave & Buster’s gets rented out and a Flock of Seagulls gets flown in for every point release. I’m just as wary of Groupon’s numbers as you are and right now, I’ll be honest, my portfolio is safely invested in mattress lint and Rosetta Stone for Mandarin.
This Is Not a Bubble Party
Miller came up with the idea for deja Mi, sensibly enough, at a show in October 2010. By November, he not only had the company underway but also, and this is key, the revenue model. The app was then built around that.
Going back to the glut of media sharing apps hitting the market between then and now, Miller took stock of the means to get his app to the top of the pile. He quickly realized there was one mean: The traditional way of breaking an app is the holy grail of TechCrunch, combined with several good write-ups and, of course, great reviews in the App Store and Android Market.
It wasn’t until April that the launch party idea was born. deja Mi is the official app of September’s Hopscotch Festival, so they have a partnership as well as a sponsorship with Hopscotch.
Miller realized that this roaming music festival could not only serve as a launch party, but also as the ultimate first impression and test-bed for the app. It would provide the backdrop not only for exposure, but also education and adoption.
If deja Mi is going to become ubiquitous with venue-based media capture, then festivals, even music shows, are just the first step. You might as well just jump right in. So deja Fest is not just a party, it’s a Petri dish where the app can quickly grow and evolve.
A Launch Party With a Purpose.
Certainly it’s going to be fun – but that’s just gravy.
It’s a risky move from a financial standpoint – as they’re putting most (not all) of their eggs in one basket in terms of marketing. It’s either going to work and work extremely well or it’s not, and then they go back to the drawing board.
What I like about it is that they’ve figured out there has to be more than one way to get your name out there. We can all complain about how the RTP is stuck in this plain, vanilla, boring rut, but in order for it to change, we have to make waves, take risks, and, well, bring the sexy back
Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for tech media startup StatSheet. He also owns consulting firm Intrepid Company and creative network Intrepid Media and runs the startup social ExitEvent (http://ExitEvent.com). Joe can be reached via Twitter @jproco and read at joeprocopio.com.