As I walked up Main Street from my home base at the CoLab to the Market Street offices of Chattanooga based, social media startup LifeKraze, I felt cautiously optimistic about talking to young CEO Ben Wagner and learning what LifeKraze is all about. With a name like LifeKraze and the motto “live like it counts,” I liked it already, but I wasn’t completely sold just yet.
My doubts about another social media platform are well founded and applicable to the modern Internet user. I don’t think I’m alone here when I say, I barely have enough free time for existing social media platforms Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. so why did I need another one? Not only do I ask myself that question, but I also struggle with the question of why use social media platforms in general. When I do have a few spare minutes to check facebook et al., I often wonder what tangible benefits does social media bring to my life? Call me Socrates or just call me someone who believes their time is valuable and fleeting, but Ben was really going to have to convince me that LifeKraze is something new, unique, and really worth signing up for. My prediction was that Ben has had to address these concerns and more as LifeKraze has raised $1.25 million in capital and launched its Beta.
When I get to the LifeKraze offices, I meet Ben and company, and as I soak up the stimulating atmosphere of this tech startup, I become eager to learn more about LifeKraze and its creators. Ben asks me, “What’s the point of Twitter?” and tells me that “nobody on Facebook wins.” As Ben continues to explain his desire to create a social media platform that is relevant to daily life, I begin to like the idea of LifeKraze more and more. Ben is a runner, soccer player, and general health enthusiast. When he posted something like “Just went for a five mile run and feeling great,” on Facebook, unenthusiastic responses like “That sounds horrible” were the norm. That was not exactly the kind of feedback Ben was looking for. Ben explains that in a similar post on LifeKraze, people might ask what’s his favorite route or suggest one of their own, they might inquire what type of running shoe he prefers, or how what post run stretches are his favorite for staying limber. The possible responses are as endless as they are enthusiastic. That’s online community building in progress, but Ben reminds me that LifeKraze is equal parts community and competition. “LifeKraze is social media with a point, literally,” says Ben. The point is to earn points by doing activities and posting them on LifeKraze. Those points will eventually be redeemable for products and discounts. Ben emphasizes the fact that users will make LifeKraze their own, so if your idea of Carpe Diem is a day on the couch, drinking beer, and watching football, then earn points doing it. There are an infinite number of activities that LifeKraze users will embrace.
I personally love rock climbing, so I ask Ben, “what you’re saying is that one day I might be able to go climbing, post it on LifeKraze, earn points from my climbing buddies, and eventually be able to get a discount on a new pair of shoes or some gear?” “That’s the point,” he assures me. My next question to Ben is, “Where do I sign up?”
LifeKraze wants its users to live active, healthy lifestyles, share that with their friends, earn points, inspire others, and be the best. Ben and company don’t plan to settle for anything less as they hope to be leaders in both the futures of social media and Chattanooga’s tech industry.
LifeKraze launched their beta site this past Tuesday, 1/11/2011. The founders have been focusing their efforts on recruiting users from the Chattanooga area, but anyone, anywhere is welcome and encouraged to sign up. This beta is limited to 2000 users, so hurry up and join the Kraze!
Mad props to Drew Belz, Isaiah Smallman, and James Harrison from Fancy Rhino for the sweet video!