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Tim Wilson, from online community and debate platform Qutee

Agnieszka Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 13 November 2017

Co-founder and CEO Tim Wilson from debate platform Qutee on the future of communities

Qutee logo 150x150Social Media Portal (SMP): What is your full and what do you do there for Qutee?

Tim Wilson (TW): I’m Tim Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Qutee.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about Qutee

TW: We created Qutee to help raise the standard of debate online and let the voice of every single commentator in every digital community be heard.  Qutee is a data-driven discussion platform that lets any content creator/publisher engage with audiences in a more meaningful way for free. Using our advanced analytics, they get more control of, and insight into, curated online conversations than is possible with existing social platforms and discussion forums. 

Data discussions analyse and archive every comment and collect poll data, allowing users to filter large discussions with a click to find the topics and people that interest them. And our advanced threads drive the insightful comments to the top.

The public get to see the top tier data and all the benefits of the analytics engine, while those running Qutee discussions get world-class conversational analytics dashboard for free. This is data democracy at work. 

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

Photograph of Tim Wilson cofounder and CEO of QuteeTW:
Anyone with a digital community including influencers, publishers, brands and social media teams. This also includes consumers.

SMP: How did you create the name Qutee and what does it mean?

TW: The Q score, which allows users to rate topics from 0-100, is part of our branding and we subsequently wanted a name that began with Q. Plus ‘Qutee’ just seemed to resonate with the team at the time. 

SMP: When was the company founded, how many people work there and how is it funded?

TW: Qutee was founded in 2015 and has 10 employees. The firm is privately backed and wholly owns the intellectual property behind its technology platform. Qutee’s board includes the former senior Facebook head of worldwide government relations, Elizabeth Linder, and consumer data expert Jim Hodgkins, formerly CEO of VisualDNA and Experian.

We are just coming out of beta and plan to generate revenues via advertising, affiliates and also licensing the core technology and API.

SMP: There’s no about Qutee or FAQs, how do you explain to new user what the service is about and what you’re trying to achieve?

TW: The internet needs an overhaul of its approach to comments. Even on news outlets’ channels, reams of audience comments die and disappear in hours without being properly explored. We developed Qutee to put a stop to this comments chaos.

Qutee lets digital community owners regain control of the debate by transforming masses of qualitative comments and quantitative poll data into tangible insight on how audiences think and feel. This insight can be used to inform future content. For consumers, Qutee provides a genuine chance to contribute to debates and feel that their opinions are being heard – providing true data democracy.

Qutee homepage image

SMP: What were you doing before you joined Qutee and how did you snag your current job?

TW: I co-founded the engagement and analytics company Sentiment360 in 2013. The Qutee platform has evolved from the advanced analytics technology we developed at Sentiment360. We realised that our patented technology could be put to good use in today’s post-truth/fake news era to raise the quality of online debate and ensure that everyone has a voice.

SMP: How did you initially attract users to the site, social channels et al and how do you do it now?

TW: We targeted mid-sized social influencers in gaming/tech while in beta, which has proved to be a very successful strategy. Influencers such as Phylol, Huzzy and CapgunTom use the Qutee platform to curate discussions with their audiences on topics such League of Legends, Total War and FIFA 18, generating tens of thousands of comments via their Qutee threads.

In parallel we decided to incentivise key influencers with the offer of a stake in the business; so far three have been granted stock, with more to follow.

It is early days as we are only just coming out of beta, but our plan is to continue to grow the business by encouraging other groups of social influencers to join the platform and reap the rewards of knowing their audiences better. At the same time we are targeting brands and publishers who can benefit by embedding the Qutee platform in their own websites.

SMP: What are the challenges that you’ve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at Qutee?

TW: The initial challenge was finding a way to test during beta with a relevant audience. We achieved this by partnering with tech influencer Marzbar. 

The subsequent feedback and user data helped us refine the UI/UX and on-boarding at a very granular level. 

The next challenge was how to grow ‘grade A’ communities providing great data stories that we could use to showcase what the platform can do. 

Via Marzbar we quickly had an influx of other influencers asking to join and become strategic partners. We decided at that point to focus on influencers with university degrees in gaming and tech. The result has been stellar retention rates, and some really insightful discussions and data stories.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

TW: I would say the enthusiasm and evangelism from the influencers we are working with, and the likes of Elizabeth Linder and Jim Hodgkins joining as board advisors.

SMP: What are the main social channels you are using, why and which are the most effective for Qutee?

TW: It’s early days for us with social channels. Right now it’s our influencers who are driving engagement within their niche verticals, so we are piggybacking on their social engagement activities.

Going forward, the way we intend to utilize Qutee’s own social channels is to explain the tech and educate everyone on the power of Qutee and on interesting use cases.

SMP: What sort of activity / engagement are you receiving across the social channels that you use and how do you create / sustain this?

TW: Our focus right now is on using our strategic influencer partners to drive awareness across social channels to spread the Qutee message.

SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for your sector and the competition that you have?

There is a huge opportunity for Qutee borne out of people’s frustration with social media platforms’ stranglehold on data. We are already seeing social influencers turning to Qutee because we give them the data they need for free. They are analysing thousands of comments, long-form discussions and other feedback provided by audiences in real time on topics such as FIFA 18 and the iPhone X. And this is just the start. Now we are moving out of beta, we are getting strong interest from a whole host of other social influencers and content creators who are keen to migrate their communities to Qutee.

In terms of challenges, gaining critical mass for Qutee is probably the biggest one we face. Our strategy here is multi-channel: our app will launch once we have a groundswell of notable influencers on board, and we are now starting to market Qutee to agencies and brands, plus social justice organisations. 

SMP: What is the most challenging part of building upon your brand presence in digital environments (including social media)?

TW: I think the key mistake most apps / destination sites make is trying to grab headlines with very flimsy use cases. Qutee is a paradigm shift in online discussion and research and we already have leading influencers and thought leaders as part of the team. We are however insistent that we take our time building a narrative based upon value not hype.  

Qutee breaking news image

SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding communities, forums and comments for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

TW: We are at the cutting edge and believe that others will follow what we are doing. But we aim to stay ahead! We are currently working on some very deep learning solutions that will push what users can do with Qutee to the next level.

On nearly every forums’ threads and social pages the discussions today are of little value as they drown under a sea of comments: the insightful are swamped by the stupid and there is little if not zero insight. That’s the challenge we are solving. What is the point in leaving a comment if it dies and has no value or influence? 

SMP: What are your top predictions for communities, forums and comments for the next 12 to 18-months and why

TW: There will be a drive to generate more organized and insightful discussion. There will be a realization that more valuable discussion drives valuable data and 
there wil be the abandonment of legacy forums powered by pages.

SMP: Best way to contact you and Qutee?

TW: Feel free to contact me directly

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

TW: Kale drink infused with Turmeric, fish oil and one of those Boots Berroca tablets. My own concoction from hell.

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

TW: Helped mix their song.

SMP: If you weren’t working at Qutee what would you be doing?

Recording my next blues record and hanging out in Majorca.

SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?

TW: Majorca / Deia with family. A special place where Chopin, Robert Graves and countless other artists have found inspiration.

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

Grab a cup of tea and slowly ease into discussions with the team and partners. I’m normally responding to email by 6am so I usually have all of that out of the way the time the team check in.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

Talk to the animals! It would be beyond hilarious. Also, they are our companions on this planet and we have to quickly change our attitude to help them flourish.

Have you got an interesting story to tell? Get in touch.

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