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Ben Rubin

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Ben Rubin, 27 year old Israeli native, had been developing concepts in the live streaming space for well over two years before his most recent venture, Meerkat, became an overnight success story. Rubin dropped out of college in his third year in order to pursue his passion. What started as Yevvo, a streaming platform with just under $4 million in funding (led by Israeli VC Aleph) and nearly 400,000 users, pivoted in mid-2013 for the first time. Rubin and his team gauged user activity throughout the growth of Yevvo and decided to kill the project in order to focus on a new niche. They realized the medium of live video streaming was a concept that was a bit too far outside most people’s comfort zones. The pivot to Air was meant to privatize the streaming world as an invite-only app encouraging users to “lifestream” only to their closest friends, as opposed to the entire world. Air had a model similar to the Snapchat experience. This time the team did not find success and decided to look deeper into the mind of the consumer. Air was broken down into many iterations and six new concepts, or side projects, emerged - the first being Meerkat.

Meerkat was developed singlehandedly by the CTO of Air, Itai Danino in only eight weeks and utilized the preexisting Air and Yevvo backend while introducing an entirely new interface and user experience. Meerkat was officially launched on February 27th, 2015 just before the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. On March 3rd, Rubin made the executive decision to focus his entire team on Meerkat, putting Air on the back burner. By March 15, Rubin had announced that Meerkat had surpassed 300,000 users and was growing at a daily rate of 30%. Meerkat took over SXSW and Rubin was the talk of the town, although in interviews he has maintained humble and focused.

Amidst drama with Twitter over their refusal of access to their Twitter Graph and the release of their rival app, Periscope, the future for Rubin and Meerkat looks bright, yet challenging.

Companies and Investments

Meerkat (Founder), Yevvo, Life on Air

Lessons Learned

Throughout the many years that Rubin and his team explored the unchartered territory that was live streaming, they came across many obstacles. These obstacles led Rubin to make some tough decisions after analyzing many risk factors. Shutting down Yevvo with over 400,000 users was certainly one of his largest risks. The Yevvo community lacked enthusiasm and become somewhat of a “boredom app” which did not excite Ben whatsoever. With a large vision still in play, allowing Danino to work on the Meerkat side project was also quite risky. However, the hardest decision to make was when Meerkat instantly took off. Rubin was left with the option to either pull his entire team off their current project (Life on Air) and focus them on Meerkat, or keep them at bay until the next iteration rolled through. After a little positive encouragement, Rubin made the right decision. Meerkat became an overnight success and took SXSW by storm. The most amazing part of this story is how Rubin has remained humble beyond belief. Each interview has been a new opportunity for Ben to showcase his drive and passion, while still being accepting to the changing tech world around him. He is a prime example of an adaptive entrepreneur, ready to take on any challenge with a smile on his face.

Inspiring Quotes

Keep(ing) your burn rate low until you have product-market fit will give you the best chance at building a big company.

Josh Koppelman

Ben Rubin's Quotes

A fair-weather VC is not a VC that you want.

Ben Rubin

It’s not about being the hottest app… I’d rather someone gave me a hug than be the coolest app at South By [Southwest]

Ben Rubin

Influential Books