The newest disruptive trend for weddings in 2019? Live streaming the big event.
The concept isn’t 100% new, Las Vegas wedding chapels have been attempting to share live recordings in their facilities for years with low-quality results. It’s only been in the last few years that technology has emerged to create high-quality video streams from a mobile device.
Sergienko has spent decades in both the tech and photography space, so creating an app that crossed both industries seemed like a no-brainer.
The Disruptor had the opportunity to talk to Sergienko about his newest app, EventLive Pro, the development process, and how the business of mobile apps has changed.
EventLive Pro is part of the changing landscape of the wedding industry. Smaller intimate weddings, both destination and abroad, are becoming more popular. With a smaller guest list, comes more stress, who makes the cut? Are there family members not healthy enough to travel? EventLive’s goal is to eliminate some of that stress.
Why did you decide to create an app that live streamed weddings? What was your thought process behind the idea?
My wife has been a destination wedding photographer for decades, and I would sometimes help her out on the weekends. Since it was a destination event, there was always a relative or friend who couldn’t come, and it was pretty emotional for the couples.
But couldn’t these couples stream using Skype or FaceTime?
Because we were so remote, there would always be issues with other types of streaming services, whether it was Skype, FaceTime, Facebook Live, or another social media stream.
The streams would stop recording mid-service, or older family members wouldn’t be able to login into the application to view. It seemed to always end in frustration.
So you thought that creating an app was the best solution?
At first, we didn’t think it would even be an app. We were thinking more of a local solution that we could market to professional photographers and videographers. We started with creating our own streaming host and using DSLR, GoPros, and webcams to stream the events. The idea was we’d host the streams. But we quickly realized that it’s double the work to convince both photographers and their clients to use the service. It’s much easier to wrap into an app, everything one place.
How long did it take to develop?
It took me about a solid month to develop both the backend technology and the app interface.
What was the most significant hurdle you had to overcome in development?
Well, whenever we went to a wedding, we would spend a lot of time testing dropped connections. When you’re having a wedding on a remote beach or in a hotel with pro wifi, there’s always a risk of dropping the connection. Plus when people are moving around, they can create interference with a wifi connection, and weddings have a lot of movement.
One thing we did was focus on the adaptive bitrate. Typically wifi isn’t the best option for streaming, but for simplicity of a smartphone app, we needed to be able to use wifi or mobile data. We knew there was going to be a risk of dropping frames, stuttering, and pixilation. We had to discover the best way to reduce video quality, but keep superior sound, until the network was restored. We also wanted to make sure that the app kept a hardcopy of the video in HD quality on the phone. It’s a wedding, it has to be stable. This is an important event. So now we have an excellent balance and haven’t had any pixelation issues in our streams.
What about competitors?
There isn’t an iPhone app that is doing exactly what we are doing, in the same way. EventLivePro is unique from a UX design perspective because of its simplicity. Many times the relatives that are unable to attend the wedding may be older and not have strong technical skills. We wanted to make sure that for the viewers, there wasn’t any app they had to download or login process. They receive a private link for the stream, usually via email, click on the stream, and they’re in.
We looked at a lot of other types of services: Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, even Twitch. They all caps on the number of users or required an account or app download to view. For social services like Facebook or Instagram Live, there’s too much room for error. If someone stops pressing the record button or the connection is lost, the entire stream is gone.
Do you ever get non-wedding streams?
Yes, which was surprising, because we market it as a Wedding app. But we’ve had people Live stream everything from a funeral to real estate seminars.
Yes, that caught us off guard at first, but then we realized, it’s the same concept, an event where family members may not be able to attend, and they want a private way to allow others to attend virtually.
Looking back, what would you have done differently?
We spent more time then we should have going the wrong route and pivoting, thinking about it as a service instead of an app. We tried all these different versions with cameras and cords when if we had thought through more about the assumptions about who would use the app, we could have skipped a lot of that. We should have known a smartphone app was the way to go! There’s always at least one iPhone in the crowd.
What’s your marketing strategy look like?
We don’t have a huge marketing budget, so we decided to test different ad channels and see the best response. We tried Google and Facebook ads, but SEO has been the most promising. We realized that by utilizing off-page SEO techniques like user reviews and guest blogging, we could build up trust in our app and gain visibility at the same time.
That makes sense, without reviews, people may be hesitant to trust a product on their big day.
Precisely, the app didn’t have a lot of reviews, to begin with, we needed to establish domain authority. SEO helps with that.
What advice would you give to other Entrepreneurs hoping to launch a mobile app?
The app store is a whole different playing field than it used to be. When the iPhone app store first came out, I created a simple flash game, and it almost reached #1 without even trying. Nowadays you may create a fantastic app that people need, but people won’t be able to find it or download it. The market gets saturated quickly. You have to have an active marketing strategy and patience.
Users currently purchase the ability to stream an event directly through the app using Apple pay. This is for two reasons. One, it doesn’t require the user to enter credit card info and makes the idea of purchasing more secure. Second, it allows, as the app scales, for Apple to help promote it as it begins to gross money.
Thanks, Mark, I appreciate your time today. Where can users find more information about EventLivePro?
It’s been great speaking with you, you asked a lot of great questions, and it’s good for me to talk about things like this out loud. You can find our website here: https://www.eventlive.pro, and it’s also available to download in the Apple store.