After soft-launching earlier this year, UK-based Blooie today publicly launched their real-time chat tool that lets website visitors discuss online content with others who have similar interests, and gives publishers a way to further engage their readers. The company, which supports over 200 online publishers to date, has raised €100,000 in seed funding from Northstar Ventures and IP Group, and was part of the ignite100 startup accelerator program.
Mark Ryan said he started the company to make it easier for people with similar interests to connect around content online. Online publishers (or anyone with a website) can install Blooie by adding two lines of code, which then enables the site to host real-time conversations. Site owners can choose where they want to place chat buttons, and after they’re installed visitors can click the Blooie button to get matched up with another visitor to discuss the content.
“Blooie itself is a platform that can sit on any website, it’s really easy to install, it’s only two lines of code. What it then gives your website is the functionality to host a conversation,” Ryan said. “It doesn’t matter where the two parties are coming from, one of them will be on the website, it doesn’t matter where the other party comes from as long as the content is relevant or the person is relevant based on things they’ve spoken about in the past.”
The company has a backend algorithm that uses a number of variables to match two people up to chat and discuss content. It starts with two users who are viewing the same website and content in real-time, however, it understands that sometimes that’s not possible. The next best thing to matching viewers of the same content is to connect people who are consuming or engaged with relevant content on two different sites with Blooie installed. However, if that also is not an option, Blooie seeks out people who may be on an unrelated site, but have in the past engaged with similar content, or demonstrated an interest through their social graph about that particular topic. Blooie also recommends related content for both parties to move on to next.
The service is free to use for both content providers and visitors, and Blooie charges content providers who want analytics around the conversations and levels of engagement. Based on the feedback, content providers can then adjust content or have more insight into their content strategy to see what visitors to their website are engaging with or not.
Readers can already interact with online content using the comments section, or via tools like Marginize, which helps users connect around content and see notes and comments that others have left. Other companies like Wibiya provide a social sharing web bar for websites that also includes a chat feature, and there are also video chat platforms like Airtime that connect users randomly around their interests. Ryan said Blooie’s focus on connecting like-minded people around content, rather than just to chat about any topic, is what makes it different.
“What Blooie tries to do or is built to do is to connect you with people you don’t know but with people you want to have conversations with. For example, I have a science degree but all of my friends are rugby players, so the likelihood of having a conversation around biology or physics is pretty low among my peers, but with Blooie I can find…someone who’s relevant to have a conversation with,” Ryan added.
Ryan said they’re planning to build a Marginize-like browser plug-in that lets people use the service without a website necessarily having Blooie installed. Other features in the works are push notifications for individuals to accept or reject chat requests, and a tablet version. The success of the platform will depend on first getting buy-in from publishers and content creators, and then on the its ability to match people around online content, something people are already doing themselves on social networks.