Interview with Arvind Raichur CEO and Co-founder of MrOwl
1. MrOwl is an interesting brand name. What is the history and story behind the brand?
Arvind Raichur: The name MrOwl came about for a number of reasons. First, we have always been aware that we are a US company with a global focus. So, we were cognizant of finding a name that was easy to remember and easy to spell. Still, we wanted a brand name that was meaningful. Although not universal, the owl is in many cultures and countries a symbol of wisdom and knowledge, and we thought that was fitting since MrOwl’s mission has, from the start, been to create a platform that allows the community to collaborate and to collect, share and store knowledge and information at the same time it creates community through those same activities.
MrOwl is a Delaware corporation, founded in 2014, with offices in San Francisco (California) and Albuquerque (New Mexico).
2. There seems to be a clutter of social media options. What makes MrOwl different from other social media offerings?
Arvind Raichur: MrOwl is different from other social media offerings because it is not just a social media platform. MrOwl does allow users to create social networks and share information in ways similar to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. but more than any other social platform, MrOwl combines the capabilities of search technology and digital organization as well. In other words, MrOwl combines the best of all three worlds into one easy to use platform. It’s the only social network that allows users to store and share every type of media—documents, pdfs, images, etc.
Also, unlike other social media platforms that allow users to create one giant social network with friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, etc. all lumped together, MrOwl allows users to differentiate among their social connections. They can create topic playlists or branches intended for professional use or workplace collaboration and share those privately with one group of people while at the same time create playlists and branches around topics they are passionate about and share those with their intimate social networks and/or other MrOwl users who share the same interests. And, users can toggle back and forth between their social networks and reconfigure them for each topic playlist seamlessly.
3. How MrOwl is a bridge between Google, Wikipedia, and Pinterest? What void does it aim to fill?
Arvind Raichur: MrOwl aims to pick up where other platforms—social and search—leave off so that MrOwl can provide each individual user with the capabilities they need to customize and personalize their internet experience. For example, MrOwl gives users the space to upload, store and share all types of media and files. This allows them to contribute to the community’s store of knowledge even if they are not writers or do not have a personal platform to offer expert opinions, reviews and things of that nature. Users can share virtually any type of digital file, so the platform does not limit what they can share to just images or just videos or just text. And, everything they do share becomes searchable and contributes as a powerful resource for other users.
Perhaps most importantly, users have control over what they see and what they share so that they can view, use and share whatever has value to them while removing from their online experience everything that doesn’t have value to them without affecting any other user’s access to whatever it is they discarded.
4. There seems to be a growing debate about fake news. Can MrOwl address this in any way?
Arvind Raichur: The technology behind MrOwl very directly addresses fake news in that it allows the community to evaluate what is fake news, what is valuable information and to discard what is deemed irrelevant. At the same time, this community-determined junk is not censored. It’s still there for any individual user to have or share as they see fit.
Unlike any other platform that relies on an algorithm to determine fake or real news or that creates what I call “filter bubbles” that are nearly inescapable based on search history and social sharing behavior, MrOwl allows human users to decide for themselves, inform the larger community and very effortlessly navigate into or out of any “bubble” created by what they have viewed or shared in the past.
5. What are major challenges that you see with social media?
Arvind Raichur: There are two major challenges I see with social media:
First, the established social media platforms do not allow users to differentiate among their networks. Every user just has one massive social network that includes everyone they know from all walks of life, and everything they share is accessible by everyone in that massive network whether it’s relevant to them or not. MrOwl allows for a much greater level of network sophistication. Topic playlists or branches that users create can be shared with select members of the user’s network—the members to whom the topic is relevant. And, when made public, that topic playlist or branch also creates a means by which other users, users not already socially connected, can discover and connect with others who have similar interests and passions.
Second, most social media platforms are structured as timelines that are very fleeting. They may allow for valuable information to be shared, but it is not easy to preserve that information so that it can be recalled and used later. MrOwl has robust capabilities for collecting, storing and organizing data so that it’s easy to find and easy to use at any time.
6. Why did you choose Virat Kohli as the brand ambassador for MrOwl?
Arvind Raichur: We chose Virat Kohli primarily because we believe that who he is and what he stands for is aligned with what MrOwl stands for and believes. Kohli is about the team, the community—the Indian community, the cricket-loving community, etc. He’s also about authenticity. He wants to spread good information and share personal insights about himself and his life with his fans. MrOwl is the ideal platform to do what Kohli wants to do and be who Kohli wants to be because it allows him to share information on the diverse topics he champions and in diverse ways that allows his message to resonate with the people he cares about and who care about him.
7. Apart from Virat Kohli, who are the other celebrities on MrOwl?
Arvind Raichur: MrOwl is growing rapidly—faster than we expected, actually, and in the last few weeks, we’ve had a number of celebrities—sports figures, actors, musicians, influencers in a wide range of industries—become authorized users. But, we don’t like to name names. We prefer that the MrOwl community find them organically.
8. As I understand, bulk of your users are from USA. How important is India to your global scheme of things?
Arvind Raichur: Our two largest audiences are India and the US. India is extremely important, both personally and because of the role we think India is going to play in the future of technology and the internet space. On a personal level, although I was born in the US, I am Indian, and my heritage is important to me; I like to be connected to the country where my parents and family came from, and to be able to merge a personal and professional connection is very rewarding for me.
From a purely business perspective, India is hugely important because I see in India a tech-savvy, tech-hungry population that is just not rivaled anywhere else in the world. The Indian people have an appetite for technology—the understanding of it and the application of it—as well as a real desire to stay in control of their internet experience. This thirst for knowledge and the demand for control make MrOwl an ideal platform, and we hope to see wider adoption in India fuel adoption and growth in other nations as well.
9. What is your vision about MrOwl?
Arvind Raichur: My vision for MrOwl is for MrOwl to become a game-changing technology, to be the platform that both supports and adds momentum to the next evolution of the internet. The future of technology is going to be driven by smarter users—users who are more tech-savvy, who are more aware of and cautious about agendas built into the Internet of Things, their online social experiences and their search experiences. MrOwl is that smarter technology that gives them the ability to customize their internet experience at the same time it allows them to contribute to and reap the benefits of a community that propagates the best information out there.
10. Who do you consider as your role model?
Arvind Raichur: There is no one individual I can point to and say, “That’s my role model.” I have several because I just don’t know how to prioritize what I’ve learned and taken away from each of them. Among my role models are Steve Jobs. I admire, share and strive to emulate his spirit of innovation, his drive to combine elegant design with an anticipation of users’ needs to deliver what people want before they even know they want or need it.
Also, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai. While I do think that Google and other search engines have left some holes to fill for users in the capabilities they need to more effectively use and control their search and overall internet experiences, I appreciate what Google has already done to contribute to the technology we have. Pichai is part of that contribution and development. His innovation and his key role in the creation of important internet technologies is a real inspiration for me.
To know more about MrOwl, visit: www.mrowl.com
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