BY DAVE PAXTON
Two years ago Cameron Stocker of Albia and two college buddies thought there needed to be a change in the way people interact on Social Media.
As Social Media users, they came up with three major problems with current social media platforms. First the content is a random cluster and the users don’t care to see the majority of the content that shows up on their feed.
Secondly, they wanted to move past the hostility that occurs between people with opposing views. And lastly, users are strictly posting content for self recognition, making it their goal to get the most likes, caring way too much about others’ opinions, instead of speaking truly.
“Our goal was to set out and create a platform where people can freely express their thoughts and be rewarded for having fun, positive, and productive conversations,” said Stocker, an Iowa State University senior statistics major with a job waiting for him in the spring at Nationwide in Des Moines. What the three created was a cell phone app called “Yabble.”
The three inventor/designers include roommates Stocker, the founder and CEO, Grant Orloff, the co-founder and head of marketing and Jordan Cowen, co-founder and head of app development. Each brought a set of skills to the table from their ISU areas of studies, although Stocker, a statistics major in the business department, has learned to write computer code and all three contribute to development and marketing ideas.
He got involved in an entrepreneurship program at ISU and actually won second place prize money in a Pitch competition where entrepreneurial students pitch ideas to a panel. “At first we tried to get other people involved to do the coding and app development,” said Stocker. “That flopped, so I taught myself how to code. It was a lot of Googling and YouTubing.”
In August of 2019 Stocker and Cowen started writing code. Stocker is an Apple user (IOS), Cowen an Android user and at first they thought each would code for their specific platform. But that changed when they found “React Native” that allowed coding on both platforms. Now Cowen (a computer engineering major) does the back end and Stocker does the front end.
Yabble was launched last week as a social media application aimed to promote productive conversation and positive daily habits. Content is divided into categories (politics, sports, entertainment, etc.). Within those categories, topics are provided to users they can post about. “This gives the user the ability to choose what they want to browse,” said Stocker. “For each post, users will have the option to share and reply. We are eliminating the option to like an individual post and introducing the Yabble button where users can like/favorite/recognize a productive conversation between users.”
The trio’s vision for Yabble is to build a community of people who feel welcome to express themselves, acknowledge that we all have differing opinions, and promote positive daily habits, all while creating a fun environment for people to interact in.
The Yabble website say, “At Yabble, we strive to provide an unbiased platform where people are encouraged to engage in thoughtful and entertaining conversation. We do this through a category-topic based social media where users are rewarded for the way they interact with others.”
Other often asked questions:
WHY DO WE NEED YABBLE?
Current social media is often very polarized and overly saturated with political content. Yabble will provide a convenient way to have productive conversation and filter the content you wish to browse.
HOW IS YABBLE DIFFERENT THAN TRADITIONAL SOCIAL MEDIA?
Yabble aims to promote users for the way they converse with others, as opposed to individual posts. This is done through the use of the Yabble button.
WHAT IS THE YABBLE BUTTON?
The Yabble button lets users like/favorite/recognize a productive conversation between users.
HOW CAN I BE A PART OF THIS?
Go to the sign up page and submit your name and email. When the app is ready, you will receive an email on how to get started.
WHY SHOULD I WANT TO BETA TEST THIS APP?
Our first users will get to help shape the Yabble culture into the place that paves the path for a better future of social media.
Lots and lots of questions are still unanswered. Like what happens when Stocker graduates and begins his full-time career with Nationwide doing predictive modeling in the actuarial department? Only one of the partners will remain at ISU after spring graduation. “So far we’ve been able to keep up with our studies and student life,” said Stocker, who carries a 3.8 GPA and is an avid Cyclone sports fan. It’s been a matter of utilizing our time.”
How does this thing make money? The three have thought that through and with five broad categories where users chat, there is room for a sixth category where sponsors could join, post information and videos and engage with users. “Our thinking is different that what you’re used to seeing on Facebook or Snapchat,” said Stocker. “We’re developing a plan where a sponsor would actually give a product or service to a user with the most shares. Sort of an immediate reward, instead of just having an ad pop onto your phone.”
Money won’t come until the base of the app is built up. Yabble launched on Tuesday, Jan. 28 and within about 48 hours, there were 450 users. Next week it will reach beyond the Social Media connections the three founders have and spread out to the Iowa State campus. I’m pretty happy with it. All we’ve done is posting on our own social medias. Next week will go on to Iowa State campus. “I’m pretty happy with what we’ve done so far,” said Stocker.
One of the biggest hurdles in a new Social Media app that stresses positive communication is keeping the negative stuff off, without censoring. “Trying to stop negative stuff is difficult,” said Stocker. “What we’re trying to do is not incentivise the individual post, which is where you get all of the nasty stuff. We have the Yabble button that you can agree with in general so there is no real reason to troll. We’re hoping it gives users motivation to engage in discussion and communicate in a thoughtful way. But we want to be as hands off as possible.”
How do you sustain Yabble if either work life gets in the way or the thing takes off? “Honestly, we’re just going to have to see where it goes,” said Stocker. “It’s very unpredictable and all depends on how users react. Ideally this can blow up. I think we’ll know in the next three months and then we can determine if it will viable long-term. We really don’t have a set plan.”