While social media has generally been a force for good in our lives, there has also been a downside: information overload. The major players try to be everything to everyone, and, in the process, leave us overwhelmed, sifting through that which is meaningful and relevant, from that which is, well, frankly, meaningless drivel.
Blasterous.com founder and CEO Tim Reeth hopes to change all that, at least as far as managing the communications people have with their genuine network of friends, family and neighbors. To him, that means providing them with better controls, and allowing them to organize their connections into custom lists which are 100% private to those people who are part of the list.
Currently in Beta, Blasterous is a hyper-location-based social platform, with mobile apps for iPhone, and Android. Users can share local and time sensitive information in the form of a “blast”; which, unlike Twitter’s 140, are 240 characters in length, can have up to 5 images per blast and contain hyperlinks. Additionally, those with permission to view a blast are able to add their comments, thereby generating a stream of dialog.
Recently, we caught up with Mr. Reeth, and asked him some questions about what makes his company unique in an ocean of social media startups.
Q: What makes Blasterous different from all of the other social media/web 2.0 platforms out there?
A: At the heart of Blasterous is privacy and user control over his/her data. Using our Lists feature, users can create private Lists where the information shared [on those private pages] is available only to members of the List. Membership is “invite-only,” and the owner of the List can grant or restrict access to any member, at any time. In this regard, Lists are great for anyone who wants freedom to share whatever they want with whomever they want without fear of it becoming public. Pages can be used for research discussions between scientists, event planning between girlfriends, travel itineraries between family members, and so forth. Using this same social communication notion, we also have public location/town based pages where anyone locally can contribute and participate.
Q: What are some location-based features of Blasterous?
A: Users can share and discover what’s going on in locations they live, work, or travel to. In this respect, we’re highly location-based. Our mobile apps, which currently support Android and iPhone, make it simple to jump into the stream of sharing within a community. Users can discover local events, plan activities with people of similar interests, take advantage of deals from shops and restaurants, there is really no limit to the type of communication that can take place.
Q: Can you think of a “killer app” or use for Blasterous?
A: One example we often use is a Neighborhood Watch. Because users are loosely connected through their geo (neighborhood) they are able to send location-targeted blasts to communities of people, in real-time. This is powerful, when thinking in terms of burglar alerts, down power lines, flooded streets, construction detours, long lines at a market, or open spots at the yoga studio. Just as easily, a co-ed soccer team can have a page that contains all the information about game times, teammates, and which venue is the best destination to celebrate a victory.
Q: Who are the ideal people that should be using Blasterous?
A: Of course, anyone who is especially concerned about privacy, whether it be their personal data, sensitive group conversations they may have, or their membership in particular groups, would find Blasterous particularly relevant. There are so many sites out there that engage in questionable practices, particularly when it comes to user data and privacy, but for us, privacy is fundamental.
Q: Why should I sign up for Blasterous, when I already have Twitter, Facebook and half a dozen other social media accounts?
A: Here’s an analogy: I have a few different pairs of shoes. I only wear one pair at a time and it’s usually based on context. Is it a wedding? Great, I have dress shoes. Are we going for a run? New Balance, perfect. It wouldn’t make sense to try and combine those two shoes so I could run in style. Facebook and Twitter tend to be about the quantity of connections and sometimes fill up with information that isn’t relevant to me or even of interest – but Blasterous provides distinct conversations that I can come in and out of as I want to. With Blasterous, it’s easy for me to get the appropriate information out to only those people it is most relevant to.
Q: What made you decide to start the company?
A: I’ve always been entrepreneurial. I’ve had a few runs at starting various companies over the past 15 years or so. Why specifically Blasterous? I saw an unmet need, and I felt we could not only meet, but innovate around that need, to create a service not seen before. Its also terribly exciting to be part of something that is bigger than yourself. I enjoy the challenge of bringing a product to life, I live for our users and their feedback, and I get a great kick out of working with people I like, as well as respect.
Location-based mobile services already have shown their huge positive potential for good. Once combined with real privacy,and simplicity, this potential could skyrocket. Blasterous.com is exploring a stretch of uncharted waters where only a few other social media startups have yet to tread. The rewards are potentially huge, if Mr. Reeth’s venture can deliver on its potential.
Steve Puma is Director of Business Development for SABA Motors, and a sustainability writer/consultant. His work focuses (mostly) on clean transportation, including Plug-In Electric Vehicles, something he is very passionate about.
Steve holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School and a BA in Computer Science from Rutgers University. You can learn more about Steve by reading his blog, or following his tweets.