Q&A: Ashley Friedlein, founder of professional messaging startup Guild


Joel Harrison speaks to Econsultancy founder Ashley Friedlein about his aspirations for his venture that is latest – a ‘WhatsApp for business’ app called Guild – and just what drives him on as a tech entrepreneur

You’ve just established Guild, which you’re billing as a ‘professional networking’ software – tell us about this. What’s your ‘elevator pitch’?

Ashley: Guild is an exclusive messaging that is professional that meets new standards, yet is as easy to use as WhatsApp. It is advertising free, and GDPR compliant.

We’ve seen dozens of social, networking and platforms that are messaging applications arrive with a fanfare and great objectives then sink without trace. Therefore what’s various about any of it one? The reason why can it be successful where those other individuals were unsuccessful?

First, you need to workout how exactly to take on WhatsApp. As well as most of the customer apps that are messaging have come out, they just don’t offer anything compelling enough to switch from WhatsApp. Guild’s focus on professional use only make it quite different from WhatsApp or apps that are similar Telegram. Our studies have shown men and women do wish a app that is separate for work stuff – in the same way LinkedIn is the professional version of Facebook, people want a professional alternative to WhatsApp.

Second, the messaging apps created for the professional market suffer from being too much about ‘business development’. They give networking a name that is bad the high quality is reduced, the ability spammy. Guild is extremely centered on quality and privacy. Given our business model is subscription-based we can afford to care about value, not volume, and quality, not quantity.

Finally, we think our team and product are simply a lot better than what has come to market so far.

Who are you targeting it at? What does the user that is ideal like? The reason why would they never be obtaining the functionality they wish from WhatsApp or relatedIn?

Any professional team, community or neighborhood where its people like to communicate, share, study on one another, stay static in touch, progress and cultivate valuable professional interactions. Including both teams that are internal external groups.

Initially we are targeting professional bodies and trade associations because they have many members and stakeholders, across organisations, who are part of councils, committees, branches, SIGs (special interest groups), expert networks, etc. Those members, as individuals or organisations, are already paying to belong but it is getting harder to engage them just through email. Guild, as a messaging app, is much more immediate, intimate, and engaging.

We have a list that is long of differences when considering Guild and also the loves of WhatsApp. Together with information on the consumer experience and interface are important. But there are two big differences.

First, WhatsApp has no profiles of group members, and certainly no profiles that are professional. In a company framework that is a challenge you are interacting with as you have no idea who. This damages trust and reduces engagement and the quality of contributions. It is natural behaviour that is human be wary when you don’t understand just who other-group people tend to be.

Second, you can’t erase content you play a role in WhatsApp (after an hour or so) due to the means it really works theoretically. And also you undoubtedly cannot erase your profile that is entire and***)all your messages within a group. You can with Guild. Not only is this a GDPR requirement but it helps protect your professional reputation you are in a group which you no longer want any association with.

What if you make a mistake in a post or feel had been your concerns that are key establishing the application? Just what problems had been you wanting to deal with? Tend to be expert people as paranoid about information security as customers appear to be when you look at the aftermath for the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook debacle?

Our key challenge with all the application is always to allow it to be as simple to make use of as WhatsApp but fit for function for expert usage and also to develop an event that fosters high quality, trust and reciprocity in an organization – all important for effective networking.

Obviously expert people tend to be also consumers on their own so they really tend to be progressively alert to information security. Certainly these are typically much more concerned with the usage of their information in a context that is professional. In part because they do not want to endanger their professional reputation but also because their employers have to abide by laws like GDPR.

We cannot see how employers can endorse the use of WhatsApp for professional use and already corporate policies are changing to reflect this. Employees are being asked to delete professional contacts off their phones it sticky and compelling lest they be sucked into apps like WhatsApp and thereby breach GDPR.

What’s going to make? Exactly how can it squeeze into experts’ busy lives that are digital? Do another distraction is needed by us?

Professor Robin Dunbar, for the ‘Dunbar quantity’ popularity, is on our consultative board. This really is it reflects his world-renowned research into human networks, including how they work in a digital environment.

A because we spent a long time thinking about how humans actually behave and worked with professor Dunbar on the product to make sure Key part of Guild, for example, are the combined teams’ (we call all of them guilds) ‘hosts’. A host must be had by every guild and only the host can invite/remove members within his/her guild. So a part that is large of is likely to make Guild compelling is *who* encourages you within their guild. If Meghan Markle welcomed you into a bunch you’ll say yes irrespective probably of the app, right? These hosts are the conveners, the networkers, the nodes, the experts, the village elders.

And hosts pay for their members. Between £5-£10 per member per year. So as a host you have to think carefully about who you invite in and, if someone is not contributing, whether you are prepared to keep paying for them.

Guild should not be a distraction but add real value. You should be flattered to be invited into a guild.

Who is behind the development of Guild? Is it a band that is one-man? Just what assistance have actually you’d to have it into the launch phase?

The founders are identical two creators of Econsultancy: Myself and Matthew O’Riordan. Serial British net entrepreneurs who have a provided fascination with Ably, a realtime messaging platform, that abilities Guild.

We have actually an team that is extended of*******************) including our development team based in Poland. We also have 18 private investors who are extremely well networked, mostly successful digital entrepreneurs themselves.

Professor Robin Dunbar is on our board that is advisory and tend to be fleetingly to announce two additional eminent advisers.

What tend to be your aspirations for this? How large did it get?

We want 10 million users within in 10 years. This is certainly nevertheless significantly less than 2% of LinkedIn’s membership that is current but we have actually a far more premium idea. Ten million users will give us profits of more than £100 million and a valuation of £1 billion advantage.

We desire Guild is to WhatsApp what LinkedIn is always to Twitter.

Have you funded this yourself, or do you have help from people?

We have raised £760,000 in a seed round from 18 private people such as the two creators.

How different has the entire process of establishing and Guild that is launching been what you went through with Econsultancy? Has the landscape and opportunities for start-ups changed in that time? What skills have you learned this right time around?

I believe the landscape for start-ups in the last 10 years in britain has actually enhanced in a variety of ways. The London scene is radiant and there’s lots of financial investment cash readily available. The competition has increased and we are all competing globally now on the downside. With Econsultancy we barely had any competition that is real our very first seven many years which offered us no-cost rein to determine ourselves. Guild will likely be contending in a hugely competitive and crowded market that is global day one.

I am still using, and enjoying, my marketing skills. Particularly marketing that is digital, also more specially, ‘growth hacking/marketing’. Nevertheless lots to understand which will be enjoyable. I really hope i’ve discovered some classes through the Econsultancy knowledge, for instance the significance of organization tradition through the outset, the worthiness of getting HR that is senior finance professionals involved even through the start, and also the significance of just employing the very best, etc.

What guidance can you offer to aspiring tech entrepreneurs?

i’ve written two books – undoubtedly business that is fairly boring. But sometimes people say to me: "I have an idea for a book, I have a book in me." That really doesn’t mean much. I have business ideas almost every day. Unless you do something about your ideas then please don’t talk about being an ‘aspiring entrepreneur’. Real authors are compelled to write just like real entrepreneurs are compelled to start businesses.

My advice to actual entrepreneurs in tech is ideally you need a co-founder, possibly two, and between you it is best to have skills and expertise in tech, product development, and sales/marketing.

Given it’s Common knowledge a couple was made by you of bob from attempting to sell Econsultancy to Centaur, what exactly are you continue to performing messing around with electronic advertising applications? The reason why aren’t you hectic speedboats that are buying the Southern of France?

Well clearly We have a vessel when you look at the Southern of France which makes look like a abramovich’s tender in comparison to mine. But do you realise how much they cost to run?!

Seriously, it is not about the money. And there is plenty of evidence to show the most entrepreneurs that are successful perhaps not driven by cash but by enthusiasm. I will be driven by a few ideas and planning to develop something which is acknowledged and british to be world-class. Ships are boring in comparison.