London-based content portal Gitoon shares their startup story

HIVE recently interviewed David Zokhrabyan, the founder of new content portal Gitoon, based in London. The team was recently named by WIRED as one of Europe's 100 Hottest Startups to watch in 2014. Here Zokhrabyan shares a bit about how the startup was founded and how the team is working to disrupt traditional media sites.

Check out the interview below to learn more about their upcoming launch and plans for the future. 

What inspired you to create Gitoon?

I was working in a social media advertising company in London whose business was helping online videos go viral. While working there I realized that today's media landscape, while bipolar (social media on the one end and traditional media on the other) is still very unhelpful for emerging artists and authors. Trying to publish something on traditional media is extremely hard for most emerging artists due to the closed ecosystem of that media.

Publishing on social media is obviously open for anyone, but publishing on its own doesn't really add any value. Promotion is an essential piece of success in social media, which is based on social media marketing skills and the amount of friends and followers.

Trying to disrupt  this inefficient market I came up with the idea of a platform which combines the best characters of both social media - open submissions - and traditional media - quality control. Similar to any user-generated content platform, everyone can submit content on Gitoon; however, submissions don't get published automatically. Instead, they are sent to a panel of peer reviewers (other contributors and active users) who anonymously review and rate every submission to determine the publishing decision. If the submission is liked by a semi-random yet statistically significant panel of reviewers, then the content will get published on Gitoon.

This system allows us to accept unlimited submissions, but publish only the best. Every single contributor receives fair and objective reviews no matter who they are.

When did you start developing Gitoon and when will it launch?

I started working on GItoon about a year ago.  We are now in a closed beta stage and have not launched publicly yet. I am happy to give access to HIVE readers if anyone is interested.

Describe how you built your team and what you each contribute to the project.

Assembling the right team of people who I can trust and rely on and who are amazing at what they do is probably the hardest task. The great thing about startups is that every team member has a great impact on the company’s future so people here are absolutely key.

We are currently a team of five. My co-founder is Gitoon’s system developer who is a math genius. He works at S&P helping to assign the right ratings to countries and now is designing the algorithm for GItoon, ensuring that artists receive the right ratings as well.

We also have an amazing developer and two design and fashion graduates with an eye for the arts and creativity.

What makes your startup unique compared to others in the content space?

Gitoon is the first community-run artistic space where members are empowered to both contribute creative works and decide what’s good enough to be published. We are disrupting the current media landscape which is divided between social media and traditional media. We combine the best elements of those into a new space - user-generated, but curated.

Where are you based and what markets are you targeting? 

We are currently based in London, which was chosen strategically - it has a densely populated artistic and entrepreneurial population.  In fact, London has the highest number of galleries worldwide as a city. We are starting with the English language market in the UK; however, the Gitoon approach is easily scalable, and we have a global appetite.

What is Gitoon looking for from possible partners?

We are looking for partners who will help us build a well-connected and experienced network of professionals from tech, media, and artistic industries. 

What's the next step for Gitoon?

We are now looking to raise some funding which will allow us to do a proper launch and introduce monetization to the mix.

How has Gitoon engaged the Armenian tech ecosystem?

Armenia has some amazing tech talent and we are using some of it from time to time. At some point I would love to have an opportunity to open a back office or a development hub in Armenia, but it is too early to say.

What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs in Armenia?

The local market is very small so I would recommend any entrepreneur to think globally and chase ideas which will target the global internet community independent of where they are.