Miso: Foursquare for TV - an interview with CEO Somrat Niyogi

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MisoMiso is a Social TV app that let users check-in to what they're watching and -like Foursquare- are able to earn points and badges. By adding Facebook and Twitter users can share and connect with their friends.



After the release of
Miso for Android, I interviewed Somrat to learn more about the company and -future- outlook.

Below the thoughts by mr. Niyogi on Miso and Social TV.


Last week Miso for Android was announced, any specific features for the Android version?
"
We looked at the Android and wanted to build a 100% native experience.  People can check-in, share what they watch, post to social networks, and earn points and unlock badges.   The home page was completely customized for the Android as the controls on the Android are fundamentally different.   We also thought voice search was really interesting - why type what you're searching for, might as well speak out loud.  We thought that would be more fun."

Will the Miso proposition and features remain in essence the same for the various devices?

"We will always look at each mobile platform and understand what are the unique capabilities of each platform and how can we best take advantage of features on those platforms.  For instance, if you look at our iPad app, we display posters of the shows that are trending which is different than the iPhone - this was done on purpose because we have to look at the iPad differently.  This being said - no matter what device, we will always make it easy and fun for you to share what you watch."

For what device is the Miso application downloaded the most at this point?

"We have been on the iPhone the longest, so definitely the iPhone."


Why do you focus on game-mechanics?

"People love to share what they watch - why not make it a little bit more fun.  We think of game mechanics as an opportunity to reward people for tuning in every week to their favorite show.  We have been working with networks in the US, such as TNT and WE tv, to use our social TV platform as a marketing vehicle to incent people to tune-in to their favorite shows - such as using "check-ins" to translate to wining physical prizes or unlocking virtual badges.  Game mechanics will continue to be part of the Miso experience."


Will you integrate real-time social chatter in Miso?

"We are exploring the idea of real-time chatter within Miso, but it's still to early to tell what people want while they watch TV. There is an increasing trend of people watching time-shifted TV, so we are building an experience for people to enjoy Miso no matter what time they watch TV, so we'll need to see how real-time fits into the mix.  We do know, however, that for the right pieces of content, the idea of real-time conversations does make sense - such as watching sports.  We are focused on building a social TV platform that no matter what you watch, and no matter what time you watch, Miso is still useful and fun for you."

Is Miso appropriate and suitable for any kind of content, be it lineair, on-demand or time-shifted?

"Miso can be used at any time and you can share any kind of content you're watching.  This being said, the primary activity we are seeing is watching live on-air TV."

Do you tend to make Miso appropriate for any kind of content in order to attract more users?

"We believe Miso needs to work for any piece of content because TV is not just one type of show or one vertical.  You may be watching Seinfeld, and then flipping the channel to watch Ice Road Truckers on The History Channel, and then watching a NBA game after that - this should all be on Miso."

What is Miso's next step to enrich the user experience?

"We are looking at new ways for people to connect and get information while they are watching.  We have always felt that the "check-in" was the firs t step - it's analogous to saying "I'm here" and "I'm watching", but how do you get people to engage in deeper ways and get value along the way. That's where we're heading next."

 
Will Miso create a TV app with additional information to enrich the user experience?

"It is something we have considered if it adds value to the Miso experience."


Is Miso generating revenue?

"
No."

What do you see as suitable revenue models for these kind of applications?

"We believe that if we can get people to engage while they watch TV through Miso, there will be various ways to make money - the primary opportunity being advertising." 

Do you plan to integrate Facebook's Social Graph into Miso or do you rely on Miso's own community power and intel?

"We already use Facebook Connect to make it easy for people to post to their Facebook friends what they are watching and to find friends.  We have thought about other ways to use Facebook's platform, but to use Miso, you do need to create your own account, so we are building our own community."

Heavy competition is on the rise that fragments the Social-TV-app space further, how do you foresee the future development of this market?

"Each company will go down different paths and there may be some overlap along the way.  As with everything, a lot of this comes down to execution, but the idea of social TV is only a couple of months in.  We are excited to see what other companies are going to do and how people will embrace the idea of using Miso as a new way to experience TV.  We really want to connect with users and are looking for feedback."

Do you think interoperability is one of the solutions to combat the challenge of fragmentation?

"Not sure - the market is too new to understand what is the right solution because I don't think any one company has the answer."


Somrat Niyogi is CEO & Co-Founder of Miso. Prior to Miso, Somrat held various roles, including business development & sales at social advertising startup SocialMedia.com. Somrat has extensive background in cloud computing APIs, enterprise software, SaaS-based solutions from his experiences in sales, partner management, & consulting at Right90 and Salesforce.com. Somrat graduated with a Bachelor of Sciences in Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.

 

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