Skype lets you video chat with your friends; Chatroulette lets you video chat with random strangers; but where’s the middle ground? VisitorsCafe, which launches today, offers site owners a new chat solution – enabling visitors on a specific website to be matched up for video chat conversations.
VisitorsCafe founder, Morgan Hermand-Waiche, describes VisitorsCafe as, “a feature that socializes the web’s content, enabling visitors of a given site to talk to each other, being relevantly and safely matched (patented technologies). It’s ‘Chatroulette meets eHarmony’ to embed on any site in seconds, empowering the community experience.” Basically, all it takes is the copying and pasting of the VisitorsCafe code and (voila!) you’ve got video chat with smart matching technology on your website.
Founder Morgan Hermand-Waiche is a recent graduate of Harvard Business School. He enrolled at Harvard after being unfulfilled in his previous work. Originally from Europe, Morgan says he “discovered the US way of entrepreneurship and was hooked instantly”. He raised the funds for VisitorsCafe during his second year at HBS and officially started the business when he graduated in May of this year.
I had the opportunity to ask Morgan a few questions about VisitorsCafe, including the inspiration behind it, who the service is right for and how it works. Find out what he had to say below.
Megan at Social Times: Please tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind this project. How did you come up with the idea?
Morgan Hermand-Waiche: I believe video chat should not be a destination site, but a feature anyone can enjoy within his or her online community. I came up with the idea realizing there was a gap between Skype where you talk with your friends, and Chatroulette where you meet complete strangers. I wanted to offer a totally innovative way to use live video chat, enabling people to meet new faces who are relevant to them.
Megan: Will VisitorsCafe have its own destination site for chat, or is it purely designed to be embedded on other people’s sites?
Morgan: For now we are 100% dedicated to helping other sites enrich their community experience. I can’t exclude any future opportunity, but our goal will always be to use video chat to enable people meeting other people who are relevant to them. Since we are pioneers in this field, we took good care of patenting everything! The future will tell us where opportunities will arise.
Megan: Does the service cost money? If not, what is your revenue model?
Morgan: We are currently an invitation only service (request your invitation here). In the near future, we will target a “Freemium” revenue model where we will offer standard features for free, and more tailored products (i.e. customized design, matching process, or security) requiring a subscription fee.
Megan: What types of users is VisitorsCafe good for?
Morgan: Our service officially launches on November 10, but word of mouth already brought some interest amongst two types of users. On one hand, community sites related to a specific interest (e.g. guitar fans, scrapbooking fans) or a life challenge (e.g. quitting smoking, diabetes, etc.). On the other hand, individual bloggers who want to use this feature to talk with their readers. We also want to catch the attention of bigger players such as social networks, gaming or dating sites, as well as web tool platforms (e.g. Ning, WordPress, Tumblr) for which we could play a role of “feature partner” or white label.
Megan: What about security?
Morgan: Security is key in the video chat industry. We build in a strong users report mechanism, an IP address blacklist verification system and one of our premium products for paying customers is a 24/7 moderator and anti-spam team.
What do you think about the service that Morgan and VisitorsCafe are offering the web? Do you think video chat on specific websites will become more prominent in the future? Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments!