Avanatta… West Coast Representin’

I’M IN SAN FRANCISCO BABY!

Howdy y’all! It’s like midnight in the UK as I’m writing this, but out here in gloriously sunny San Francisco it is about 4pm, about 29ºC and I am on my 4th coffee of the day, because that is what runs in the veins of West Coasters and i’m trying to fit in!

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It’s my 9th day in San Francisco and I have learnt A LOT in the last week:

  1. Jet Lag is the worst thing in the world. I have only *just* managed to function on West Coast time. It doesn’t get light here until pretty late.
  2. Pumpkin Spice is like a religion out here. There is pumpkin spice in preeeetty much everything.
  3. Americans are super polite, and very helpful. People actually smile at you in the street and make conversation with you in coffee shops. It’s a little bit scary, coming from London where everyone scowls and avoids eye contact!
  4. Food is cheap. Denny’s have a $2 menu, and it gets you quite a lot!
  5. Homelessness is prolific. Every street corner has it’s own homeless person. And they like to scream. A lot. It’s a little disconcerting. I have perfected the art of walking quickly and avoiding eye contact, though this hasn’t stopped them from singing at me.
  6. Pretty much everyone has a Macbook.
  7. But more people have Android phones.
  8. Everyone knows someone who works in tech. Most of those know someone who works for Google, Facebook or Twitter. The others run their own start ups.
  9. Not including tax in prices for things is the dumbest thing ever. Sort it out, America. It’s ridiculous and frustrating!
  10. People start decorating their houses for Halloween in the first week of October. And they spend a small fortune on the decorations. It’s scary. And not in the traditional Halloween way.

But I wasn’t sent out here to learn about the American obsession with Pumpkin Spice, I was sent out here to learn more about the West Coast tech start up world – how it functions, where it lives. This is the home of the start-up. Sometimes affectionately referred to as Beta Town because there are so many new apps and services in development, and everyone is willing to try them out in the hope they might be the first to latch onto the next big thing.

20140310_SoMa-28On my second day in SF I visited the WeWork flexi offices in SOMA (South of Market) to get a feel for what it could be like if Avanatta established an office out here, possibly within one of the WeWork buildings. It was interesting – a large room where start ups can enjoy a speedy wifi connection, all you can drink coffee and tea (which turns out is quite a lot!) and weekly events for entrepreneurs including mixers, socials, talks and demos from other businesses and experts in the start up and technology fields. It’s quiet though – working in a shared space you feel the need to respect other peoples need for peach and quiet, which is both wonderful and annoying when you want to talk a call with colleagues, clients or friends. They also pump out the A/C pretty high, which makes for a pretty chilly afternoon when you don’t have a jumper with you! However, the amazing opportunities to network with people is indisputable – everyone there is working on something interesting, and everyone knows someone or something which can help you in your quest for success. But similarly so, there are some people just keen to hear and learn about what you’re doing from a ‘poaching’ point of view. I was warned about it before I came out here, and have made sure not to give away the secrets of our product to the wrong people!

unnamed9There is also a flexi office service out here called Bespoke CoWorking which I think i’m going to try out later this week. It’s based in the Westfield Mall on Market Street (yes I was out shopping when said discovery was made, can you blame me?!) and it’s a 24/7 coworking space which focusses on tech and retail. There are private offices, dedicated and shared desks and conference rooms available. There is also (from what I can tell from the pictures) a climbing wall. A CLIMBING WALL! Why? I don’t know, but I’ll report back after i’ve given it a go.

As you will know, Avanatta has a Zero Trollerance policy towards trolling and cyber bullying. I’ve been speaking to a few people out here, students and parents, about what they have experienced in the realm of online abuse to get an understanding to see what we are up against and how schools are attempting to educate and prevent this online nastiness from happening, if at all out here in the States. When speaking to one parent, it would seem that some schools have nailed the whole preventative bullying thing, while others have such a bad problem that suicides are a common occurrence as a result of bullying. Whether this stretches to online bullying too is unknown, but I think it’s safe to assume it would be.

One thing I have learned is that while you can police it from an admin point of view, actually getting the relative authorities involved is a harder matter. Hannah is a 16 year old volunteer moderator for her schools social site and told me about a troll who has tried to solicit to underage girls on multiple occasions. Because this troll bounces his IP address across the globe, and because laws are different across the world, one countries paedophile is another countries eligible bachelor! This has got me to thinking about the obstacles that come with policing behaviour on social networks and messaging apps. It is my belief that we have a responsibility to protect out users from predators and criminals, and we can do whatever we can to keep these nasties from interacting with others on our platform, but what about in the real world? Do we need to just accept that we can’t protect everyone, even when we know who the baddies are?

W6oYIYF7rNyJaFrom a female point of view, I have also been looking into girl-on-girl bullying. Knowing how mean girls can be (the movie Mean Girls could be seen as mild in comparison to real life, trust me!) I find it interesting the psychology behind female bullying. Girls by nature are a lot more conniving and covert when it comes to bullying. We’re sneaky. We use subtly to make others feel bad, whether it’s a look, a small inflection in our tone of voice, or possibly even saying nothing at all. Girls over analyse everything because everything we do has a meaning. When men say women are complicated, it’s because we are. And we know how mean we can be. And in some cases, our meanness is actually just a case of personal survival!

Most cliques have a leader; a Queen Bee. Self preservation dictates you don’t mess with that Queen Bee because she has the power to make life very difficult for you. So in turn, if she is bullying someone you will either join in on the bullying or stand aside and let it happen, through fear it will happen to you.

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Queen B – Blair Waldorf, Gossip Girl

Equally so, not doing anything and taking the exclusion approach can be worse than the nasty interacting, but how can you measure that? The subtleties of exclusion that may not be visible unless you’re in the middle of it, and can be more hurtful than name calling and rumour spreading. It’s a difficult one. Girls are mean, and from the research i’ve done, they are some of the main perpetrators of cyber bullying.

I’ve been doing so much over the last 9 days it’s difficult to put it into a post which won’t bore you, so i’m going to sign off and report back again before I fly back to the UK on Sunday. Until then, i’ll be enjoying the San Francisco Indian Summer heat (Hurray for iced coffee!) and immersing myself more in the world of the West Coast!

G x

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Avanatta heads to South Africa

Last month I spent ten amazing days out in South Africa where I was helping my lovely friend Sarah with the coordination of the epic charity walk taking place in December for the Beefy Foundation, which Avanatta just so happens to be sponsoring!

In December 2015, Sir Ian “Beefy” Botham will be putting his trainers on once again to pound the South African Tarmac. This mammoth trek will take in most of South Africa’s prime locations and stunning scenery. He may even have a minute to sample a local wine or two.

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The walk will be starting on December 10th in Cape Town… so that is where we flew to first. It was really important that I learn as much about the walk as possible, as in December I will be working alongside Sarah to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible, and as Sarah can’t be in two places at the same time, I need to make sure I can cover any bases she can’t.

So naturally the first stop for us was the Flagstone Winery!

Flagstone is1 based in Somerset West and is the finish line for the third day of the walk which will start in Stellenbosch. It is also part of Accolade Wines which just so happens to be a fellow sponsor of the walk. In addition it is also neighbours with the Cheetah Outreach which homes a variety of cheetahs and other animals. The combination of incredible African animals and stunning South African wine makes this the perfect location for the final steps of the walk in Cape Town! We natta’d from this location using the @BeefysFoundation channel. Head over to the app to watch it!

As Avanatta is the official Social Media partner of the walk, my key focus was the ensure there were no issues with using the app in each of the areas we visited. While there is nothing that can be done when it comes to connectivity (that’s a mobile network issue rather than something problematic with the app itself) it was very important to make sure we are aware of any possible issues and hurdles we may come up against that can be fixed from our side. On Sarah’s last visit back in January she had problems with natta’ing from Port Elizabeth and Durban which were the next two stops of our visit.

Port Elizabeth is a beautiful town where we met with the local council to confirm the route and safety logistics for day 4 of the walk. Sarah wboardwalk-exterior-WF-evening-signature.jpg.sunimage.1400.730as half way through the presentation when they told her they’d heard enough and it was a huge thumbs up from them! Fantastic news. And whats more – Avanatta worked perfectly the whole day. A huge relief as this leg of the walk will hopefully be accompanied by some dogs trained in seeking out poachers from the Chipenbere charity (Rhino conservation) that the foundation are supporting with this event, so there will definitely be some fantastic footage to be captured here!

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.13.03We only had one night in P.E, and it was a bright and early start for us to catch our flight to Durban. As soon as we landed it was time to get into our car provided by Bidvest (the car sponsor for the walk) and drive the route for the walk. As with most of the routes, this one starts at Food Lovers Market, which is a bit like Wholefoods meets Waitrose meets Marks & Spencers meets my idea of absolute HEAVEN!

Sadly the council and the police failed to get back to us in regards to getting everything signed off while we were there, so instead we had no choice but to enjoy Durban and the lovely people within it, including the Murphy family who so very kindly put us up for a few nights, and treated us to multiple Braiis! IMG_2860They were also more than happy to embrace our Troll Mask task which was to get as much footage of people wearing the masks as possible. Cue about a dozen bottles of wine and we couldn’t get people to take them off. The night got weird, the footage got amazing. Again, head to the app to see what went down!

The Cape Town Council eventually got back to us to arrange a presentation to confirm the logistics and routes for the three days, so we flew back down for that meeting (courtesy of South African Airways) and dashed over to meet with a room full of people in the know when it comes to organising such events.

That done it was another flight, this time up to Jo’berg. After a good sleep it was another early start and time to run the route in Soweto before meeting with Kliptown – another of the charities the foundation will be supporting through this walk.

IMG_3320The route we drove was okay. Nothing special and to be honest, a bit mind boggling (the driving instructions were a little erratic to put it politely) and it wasn’t until we arrived at our meeting in Kliptown that we realised a huge mistake had been made and instead we simply MUST start this leg of the walk from the charity head quarters! Kliptown is an incredible area, and a complete juxtaposition from the area we had just driven through – corrugated iron huts, a lot of litter and some pretty unhealthy bodies of water, as opposed to beautiful brick houses with satellite dishes – We were helped with a new route by the charity coordinators and I was able to document it all from the car on Avanatta!

I flew home that night, and was back in the office the next day where I made a rather incredible document introducing Avanatta to all those who will be involved in the walk, from the charities, our fellow sponsors and the walkers. In fact, you can see it if you follow this link here! It’s amazing, and I won’t have you tell me otherwise!

If you want to be a part of this charity walk, you could take the leap and buy yourself a flight to South Africa and walk with us between the 10th & 17th of December! The best thing to do is contact the walk’s expert travel partner Africa Travel, or call 020 7843 3500 or email info@africatravel.co.uk for more info. Alternatively you can donate money to the cause on the fundraising page.

And obviously the best way to keep up to date with how the walk is going is to follow it on Avanatta! If you haven’t already downloaded it, head to the app store now, set yourself up a channel and follow the @BeefysFoundation, @BeefyBotham, & @Sarah channels now!

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The dark face of social media…

My announcement to my friends and family that I was going to work for an up-and-coming social media company was met with raised eyebrows; I have never mentioned anything other than wanting to join the army as an officer after university and a 9-5 internship in London is about as far removed from that as po11830877_10153597683377125_2044624761_nssible. Whilst the army is still very much the career path for me, I could not pass up the opportunity to gain an insight into the inner workings of a starter company, led by a man who has forgotten more than what most could teach about business, and with a team who through their diversity, have created a very welcoming and engaging work environment.
I was asked to work for the company because I am currently studying psychology at university, which is a question far preferable to that which every psychology undergraduate has been asked before by friends and family who don’t study psychology, which is whether we can read minds, or are we making notes on them right now. Whilst modern psychology doesn’t focus on the more psychic and mystical elements of human behaviour, for which the psychology of a bygone era is somewhat infamous, it can give one an insight into the probable reasons as to why people behave the way that they do. One question that Avanatta poses, in their bid to create a safe social media platform, is why do cyber-bullies and trolls behave as they do, for what purposes, and how can they be detected and stopped.

“Traditional bullying” – big kid picks on the little kid type bullying – is very much imbedded in human behaviour and so there is a wealth of research on it. In contrast, cyberbullying has become pandemic in the last decade or so with technological developments and due to the widespread availability of smartphones to people of all ages. There is comparatively little research on cyber-bullying then, due to the technological Big-bang with which it emerged, the time it takes for psychologists conduct research into it and analyse inferential statistics, draw conclusions and then publish the results, and the fact that it is an ever-changing phenomenon, being shaped by the constant creation of apps such as Facebook, Twitter and more recently Snapchat, which are giving bullies new ways to conduct their business. And according to the statistics, business for them is good.
A recent report by Pewinterest, an American think-tank, found that 92% of the 13-17 year olds they interviewed reported having a smartphone, and 24% of them said that they were “online constantly”. More shockingly, anywhere between 50-70% of teens have reported being cyber-bcyberbullying_by_cyberbubble99-d5fsyrvullied, and 20% have experienced it on a daily basis. Whilst these stats may be very similar to those for traditional bullying, the key difference is that cyber-bullying can happen anywhere, anytime, unlike traditional bullying which is usually constrained to school hours only. Moreover, cyber-bullying is occurring in addition to traditional bullying, with social media giving the bully unlimited opportunities to pervade their abuse into the victim’s private spaces, their homes and bedrooms, the places which were hitherto their refuge.
What has the research found then, and how can it be used by myself and Avanatta to create a social media platform which doesn’t tolerate bullying. Whilst there is ambiguity as to what constitutes as cyber-bullying, it is widely agreed that it is any repetitive aggressive act, targeted towards another person through a technological social medium. The key part of this definition is that the behaviour is repetitive, which helps to distinguish bullying from one-off acts of aggression for which the main reason is retaliation, either to something the perpetrator has seen online with which they disagree, or in response to provocation from someone else. Cyberbullying occurs for a number of reasons; usually as a continuation of face-to-face bullying which has occurred during the day, but also interestingly in retaliation to that bullying by the victim. In traditional bullying there is what psychologists refer to as strength differential, which is the notion that the bully is usually stronger physically than the victim. However, this strength differential is eliminated by, (or somewhat reversed by) social media due to lack of physical presence of the bully (and reversed in the sense that the victim of traditional bullying compensates in some way for their lack of physicality by their technological prowess, dubbed somewhat insensitively as the “revenge of the nerds” in social media). Thus, paradoxically, the victim becomes the bully as they take to social media to avenge themselves for the physical confrontations they are not adept at dealing with. Furthermore, due to the anonymity which social media like Twitter affords, they can do so in relative safety from repercussions at school the next day.

Anonymity is one of the biggest factors in the perpetration of cyberbullying. Some social media sites don’t require you to have your real name or picture, or even verify your account, which breeds opportunity for complete anonymity. When people become anonymous they lose their identity, and with the loss of identity comes detachment from social norms and standards, which explains in part why people who would never consider bullying in real life, find it easier to engage in cyberbullying, because their moral sense is inhibited by their sense of anonymity. Coupled with the fact that there is a low threat of repercussion if one is anonymous, this helps to explain why people are more likely to engage in cyberbullying, and why the extent to which people go – rape and death threats for example – is often much more on social media. There is also a distinct lack of empathy on some social media because one cannot see the physical and mental effects they have on others when they engage in cyberbullying anonymously.

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Linked to the concept of anonymity is the problem of deindividuation, which can help explain group bullying and mob mentality. I recently watched a TED talk, in which the talker was recounting an instance on Twitter in which a female comedian made a joke to do with ‘white privilege’ in relation to her trip to Africa, just as she was boarding the plan; the joke was taken the wrong way and during the flight (where she had no internet) her joke went viral and so ensued the public witch hunt which is so typical of social media currently, in which everyone can be held publicly responsible for something they said due to the interactive nature of social media. She arrive in Africa to texts from friends and family offering heartfelt condolences, and her confusion turned to horror as she opened her twitter account and scrolled through a real-time unravelling of her life, to which she wasn’t privy, but the rest of the world was. Within minutes she had received death threats, within hours she had received threats of rape. This example very nicely demonstrates deindividuation, the psychological concept which refers to how in a group, all the people responding to the comedians post for example, these people lose their self-awareness and personal responsibility, and so look to environmental cues as to how to act. With this loss of identity, there is an unaccountability which is manifested through behaviour which would usually be inhibited by one’s personal restraints, but due to the diffusion of responsibility amongst the group there is a lowering of standards, and one small spark such as an abusive comment becomes the catalyst for a forest fire of vitriol and hatred and abuse as people look to others as to how to behave.

So, anonymity and deindividuation can thus account for why ‘normal’ people may transgress when they are on social media, but not in real life, and whilst cyber-bullying isn’t necessarily replacing traditional bullying it is certainly accompanying it and indeed facilitating a means of retaliation and aggression for those who are bullied in real life. These two types of cyber-bullying share in common the fact that they are usually reactive types of aggression, and so they offer little in being able to pre-empt them. However, what we can do is use software to detect high levels of aggression to a particular natta or person, and flag that up as aggressive so that it may be dealt with before it can cause harm. This also helps us to identify those accounts which engage in cyber-aggression so that they may be earmarked for future reference. We can also use sophisticated algorithms to detect groups of bullies, who share something in common, such as geographical location (indicative of localised bullying between school peers) or are following a particular celebrity and are responding to one of their posts, which is indicative of ‘fan1d_620_1846503a doms’, groups of teenagers who follow celebrities to the point of obsession.

This brings me onto the next group I have found whilst scouring the darkest corners of social media, fandoms. I didn’t have too much experience with fandoms before starting this job, an experience confined mostly to that of a 12-16 old girl (or boy, but it is most common amongst girls) with an obsession with perfectly groomed pop-stars like Selena Gomez and 1 Direction, an experience which I’m not too sad I missed out on, but one that is important to research nonetheless because social media has offered this generation of teens an ability to interact with their favourite celebrities in a manner in which previous gcelebrities-beauty-ariana-grande2enerations could have only dreamt of. People can now reach their favourite celeb at any time of the day, and has access to anything they post. The attraction to celebrities amongst teenagers and young adults has been very heavily researched and when the attraction reaches a certain level it is said to be a para-social relationship. A para-social relationship explains the one-sided attachment that people develop towards someone that doesn’t even know that they exist, such as in the case of fangirls and celebrities. On twitter, fandoms demonstrate their allegiance to their favourite celebrity by having them as their profile picture, having their name as in the twitter handle in some manner (@Bieberlover for example) and by constantly replying to the celebs tweet, usually with ILY or interestingly ‘mom’ (implying that the celebrity is their mother) which shows the importance these relationships hold for the fandoms. The fans invest a significant amount of time and emotion in these relationships and so celebrate positive experiences that the celebrity has, but conversely is personally threatened when sometdownloadhing their celebrity has a negative experience. To that end, because celebrity spats are very public now, the fandoms can engage in them and ‘defend’ their celebrity to the point of abusing the opposing celebrity in the confrontation which can lead to bullying of the celebrity, or inter-fandom conflicts which can also be manifested as cyberbullying. Those fans who adopt a picture of their celebrity as their profile picture, and the celebs name as their twitter handle (as opposed to their own) are also subjected to the effects of anonymity, and the very nature of being in a fandom itself entails the effects of deindividuation. Para-social relationships, anonymity and deindividuation all interact to create a perfect storm, the conditions of which facilitate cyberbullying at a very intense level. Obviously not everyone in a fandom engages in such behaviour, and Avanatta wants fandoms to be able to express themselves and interact with their favourite celebrities in a positive manner, because of the many positive effects of belonging in a group of like-minded people. However, because they are at a higher risk of engaging in cyberbullying, it makes it easier to deter so that they can engage positively.

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So far this job has taken me to very depths of twitter, researching fandoms, and discovering what the face of a bully is on social media. I have been surprised at some aspects of what I’ve found and shocked and disappointed at others, but ultimately it is the compassion which social media allows which makes this job worthwhile. Helping to create a place where people do

Monica+Lewinsky+l84EviFaW9Cmnot have to live in fear of being persecuted by their bullies, a place which they can use as an escape and engage with their favourite music artist of actor, is a very personally satisfying job. It has changed the very way I look at social media, and indefinitely changed the way I engage with others on social media; there wasn’t really meant to be a moral to this blog post but if you do come away with a will to be more pro-social and compassionate on social media then the blog would have been worth it. I’ll finish my first ever blog post with a quote from Monica Lewinsky, patient Zero of cyberbullying, who said in a recent TED talk that when we are online “showing empathy for others benefits us all, and helps create a safer and better world.”

Written by Perry Campion

Beefy’s Big Birthday Bash

IMG_2518If you are both an avid user of Avanatta and a huge cricket fan, it won’t have escaped your notice that Sir Ian Botham, one of the greatest England cricketers of all time, is an avid user of our social networking app. And if you’ve been following our team over the past few days, you’ll have seen us upload a lot a nattas about Beefy’s Big Birthday Bash that we sponsored at the weekend.

Beefy will be turning 60 years old this year, and 2015 also marks 30 years since he began fundraising. The Beefy Foundation is one of the charities that we support here at Avanatta, as it is charity that works towards raising money for a series of causes very close to our hearts.

The fundraising day in the name of Beefy was to include a cricket match featuring some of the worlds top class cricketers (and Piers Morgan), charity auctions, (one silent, one very loud indeed!) some fine food, a traditional fairground and to cap it all off, an intimate concert… where the headline act was none other than Eric Clapton!

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I mean… of course we were going to sponsor an event like this! Are you kidding?!

So because there was going to be a fairground at the event, we decided we wanted to add our own attraction to let the crowd know about Avanatta. As Beefy has suffered at the hands of internet trolls in the past, and so have many of his esteemed guests, we wanted to highlight that trolling is not something tolerated on Avanatta… in fact, we wanted to make an example of internet trolls… by dunking them into a huge bucket of rather freezing water! Naturally!

For anyone who has ever wondered what it’s like to work for Avanatta, you might want to ask Bailey, Perry & Jack, who were the three lucky chaps who “volunteered” as trolls for the day. With our specially made ‘You’ve Been Trolled’ t-shirts and the hideously scary troll masks on, the boys were ready to face the icy water every time someone on the cricket pitch hit a six! At least, that was the plan… but it didn’t take long for members of the crowd to join us for a spot of target practice! It got to the point where there was no point in the boys trying to dry off because they were back in the water again in no time! All much to my absolute delight as I watched on in my perfectly dry clothes with a glass of something fizzy in my hand… mwahahaha!!!

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Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 14.02.23Now excuse me while I go into food blogger mode for a bit…

There was a lunch reception just prior to the cricket game where we dined on a gorgeous plate of perfectly cooked meats (chicken, pork, and a beef cut which just fell apart with the knife) and a dessert of ‘build your own’ Eton Mess which was incredible and, true to name, messy. Along with a few bottles of wine from another sponsor of the event: Hardys, and a big gold bar of chocolate from Harrods which looked incredible – though I haven’t actually had the chance to eat any of that myself as I believe the nattaGaffa actually stole them all at the end of the day!! Shocking behaviour. He deserves a dunking just for that!

We were lucky enough to share our lunch table with Piers Morgan. Love him or hate him, you can’t not find the man interesting. And for what it’s worth, I really like him. He’s an intelligent chap, with some strong opinions about things that actually matter. He is the ideal person that we want using Avanatta… and as it happens, he was kind enough to let us help him set up a channel and record his first natta! How amazing is that?! You can see that natta in the video down the bottom of this post. Or you could, I dunno, DOWNLOAD THE APP and see it for yourself in it’s natta-ural habitat! (see what I did there?! #punny)
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But it wasn’t just Piers who was kind enough to spare a few seconds to record a natta for us to send to Beefy; a whole host of incredible cricket stars, personalities and actors (THE WEASLEY TWINS OMG!!!!) also joined in. As above, you can watch our YouTube video OR head to the app to see all clips in full!

IMG_2622The cricket match began, our trolls took a dunking, and then afternoon tea arrived (ok I won’t go into detail about that bit… though it is worth noting that the lemon drizzle cake slices were super dreamy!) followed by the hugely anticipated auction which went on to raise over £100,000 for the Beefy Foundation!!

The generosity levels we witnessed at this event were heart warming and an absolute pleasure to watch. As was the incredible concert that was to follow.

The concert was being held in a gorgeous temporary building known as the Opera Pavilion. It is an intimate venue which can hold around 600 people, and we were lucky enough to nab ourselves seats just 6 rows back!

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 15.30.50Warming up for Eric Clapton were a fantastic band called Strapped For Cash who managed to get the whole room dancing with some awesome classics and a few of their own catchy numbers. After their final number we only had to wait a few short minutes before the guitar playing legend took to the stage for an hour of impeccable music. Special mention must be given to the pianist who managed to play a piano like i’ve never seen before. Every person in the room was coveting those skills.

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Naturally we recorded a few clips on Avanatta, which you’ll be able to see in the featured section of the app. Go on… go avalook!

Beefy’s Big Birthday Bash was all in all, incredible! We have to thank and congratulate Sarah Botham for curating and arranging a splendid day out and for inviting us along. Our whole team had an incredible day (Bailey literally went into crazy fan girl mode when he met the Weasley twins – AND it was his birthday! Literally what more could you want?)

And what has it done for Avanatta? Well aside from get the whole team a lot more interested in cricket, we were able to aid a lot on influential people in setting up their own nattaChannels and have seen a healthy increase in users since the event.

And now a few words from our intern…

This will be my first blog entry as a marketing intern with the Avanatta team. While my experience with  blogging is very limited, I feel as though sharing my experiences with Avanatta is certainly worth sharing!

A few weeks ago I embarked on my first ever Avanatta field trip. We (Jack, Gerorgina, and myself) went to Everest Community Academy and we met with a IMG_2557focus group of about ten to twelve kids in order to gain some feedback about our app. Georgina began the meeting with an insightful and detailed description about our App and how awesome it is/will be. She asked the kids “what social media platforms do you like the most and why?” Most the kids, and even the teacher stated, “Facebook! Instagram! Twitter! and Snapchat!” Georgina then asked how many of them experienced internet bullying or online trolling, to which a few students recalled personal negative experiences they’ve had online. Georgina quickly lightened the mood by explain how highly we monitor all our users, and how we have sophisticated protection software systems implemented to keep our social media space completely safe and free of internet bullying and trolling. It was nice to see the innocent faces of the students light up at the thought of a social media space where they can be free to express themselves, be creative, and make any funny video that comes into their minds without the fear of being judged and attacked.

The bell rang and we were forced to move upstairs to a different classroom. We handed out some of iPads with the Avanatta app already downloaded on it to and asked if the students with iPhones would download it themselves. The kids were asked to spend the next hour of the day creating their own natta videos. The only instruction we gave them was to recreate a historical event. What they came up with at the end of the hour was absolutely hilarious. In an earlier blog entry, Georgina explained my favourite natta that came from a group of boys who reenacted the famous John Terry missed free kick and even the Terry handshake dodge. Another group of girls recreated one of Eminem’s rap battles which was also hilarious. Overall the creativity and comedy that came from the students first hour of using the app was absolutely brilliant!

My first few weeks here at Avanatta have been an absolute treat. The whole Avanatta team has been enthusiastic and super fun to be around creating a perfect work space for a summer internship!

Look out for another post from me before I head back across the pond!

Cheers,

Bailey (@Btills) Tills

Things are heatin’ up in Avanatta HQ!

In the week that London quite literally melted (OH MY GOD WE HAVE NOT BEEN BUILT TO DEAL WITH THIS HEAT!), things got pretty exciting in the world of Avanatta.

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Firstly, we introduced a new intern to our team. Bailey (AKA @BTills – go follow him on the app!) has joined us for the summer all the way from Denver, Colorado of the mighty U.S.A. Bailey has previously interned with Uber and is really into Lacrosse. He’s been working really hard since he started, already contacting bloggers in an attempt to find out the extent to which bloggers experience trolling. We have had a few responses from bloggers who luckily haven’t experienced the same kind of level of abuse more commonly directed towards video bloggers and YouTube stars, which is interesting, but we are still waiting to hear back from some so maybe that will change. There’s no real logic behind why people troll and send abusive comments online so why wouldn’t they do it to bloggers too?

As well as that, Bailey is working on sending out some newsletters to our current user database, so y’all look out… you might be getting a VERY snazzy email pop up in your inbox very soon!

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 15.15.06At the beginning of the week we (myself, Jack & Bailey) visited another school, this time the year 10’s of Everest Community Academy in Basingstoke, where we received some of the best feedback to date, from both the students and the teachers!

The students took part in the same natta competition as the 6th formers of Park House, where they used our technology to recreate a moment in history. The quality was impressive, with some very good use of the editing suite. Our winning group recreated the heart breaking moment that John Terry fluffed the penalty in the Champions League final against Manchester Utd a few years ago… much to Jack’s utter dismay (re-living it still brings a tear…) – they used some some great editing techniques including voice overs recorded straight from the actual footage of the event, and added in a link to the news article.

Mrs Poulton, the Assistant Vice Principal who supervised the demo, was hugely positive about Avanatta and how it can be used in schools for education purposes. She has so many fantastic ideas that we truly believe can work, and will in turn make Avanatta a key learning tool in schools across the country.

CI7L5ZCXAAEOlK0Yesterday myself, Richard and Jon Hook (marketing guru who has recently joined our team to help advise on the path to marketing pros!!) pitched Avanatta at the Bloomberg NOTWICS14 (Now That’s What I Call Start-ups) in the City. We had just 5 minutes to pitch Avanatta to the room of fellow start-ups and investors followed by a minute of questions. Well… 5 minutes isn’t very long when you have as much to say as we do! The main focus of this pitch was the problem we are solving for brands by being able to tap into the under 13’s market.

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Our nattaBank & a mock up of our upcoming Market Place!

Thanks to our safe guarding technology, which in turn makes Avanatta a safer place to interact, we have realised that we actually have the ability to tap into a market that no other social network can! Thanks to our nattaCoin rewards system and our upcoming market place, we can learn what it is that this group (the lower range of the GenZ teens) like to purchase – what music they are buying, what brands they enjoy, and their spending habits, by monitoring how they use their nattaCoins. Finally they have their own currency that they can spend on the carefully selected products available to them in our marketplace, and they don’t need mum & dad to lend them pocket money. Brands have never before been able to track the buying behaviour of this young market. Avanatta changes this!

That’s all for our weekly update today. To be honest it’s a miracle i’ve managed to complete this as my brain has partially melted, but I hope you’ve enjoyed it…

Have a wonderful weekend, y’all. Enjoy that sunshine – stay hydrated, and apply plenty of suncream. No-one wants to come into work on Monday resembling a tomato!

G x

When Avanatta went back to school…

When I was a 6th former social networking just wasn’t really that big. Not in comparison to what it is today. Twitter wasn’t established, Facebook had only recently reached our shores and smart phones just weren’t a thing yet. I owned a Motorola Pebble (it flipped open, looked like a large pebble, had a decent ring tone collection) and I used it to call people (when I had credit) and sometimes text. I sometimes took heavily pixelated photos on it, but then did nothing with them. There was no WhatsApp’ing, no sending ugly selfies to my friends, no relying on Google Maps when I got lost, and definitely no social networking. Apps just didn’t exist; you had to wait to get home to your computer to log in to find out what was happening in the news, and see what your friends (who you’d just spend the whole day with) were up to. In fact, my Media Studies class spent days researching the evolution ofgiphy-1 the mobile phone, and focussed heavily on a new piece of technology which was set to revolutionise the world of portable telephones but we could only dream of one day owning; the Apple iPhone!

Now it’s 7 years later since I left school (in that time I literally could have done school all over again!) and we’re onto our 6th generation of the iPhone (well some of us are. I’m quite happy with the 5s thanks very much) and they’ve become like an extension of our bodies, and with that, social networks an extension of how we run and organise our social lives. And who is this most true for? The kids that are still in schools and are at the forefront of the Avanatta target market.

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So today Jack and I visited Park House School in Newbury, Berkshire to talk to the year 12 Media Studies students about Avanatta and to get some much needed feedback on the functionality, the features and the future of our collaborative video making app!

Mr Marshall’s class of approximately 18 students today were kind enough to spend their morning listening to us talk about the app. Of the 18, five were Android phone users, while the others used iPhones. At the moment we have halted downloads for the Android version while we bring it up to date with iOS, so sadly these students weren’t able to sign up to Avanatta this morning, but the feedback we got from them suggests that as soon as they can download it, they will!

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We did a small focus group with the class first to establish what they use social networking for, and what they think of the current networks and apps on offer. Heres what we found out:

  • The whole class said they have a Facebook & Instagram account
    • One issue raised with Facebook is that it is no longer about friends and their status’ but more about sharing videos, articles and stories
  • 3 of the 18 were not on Twitter and there was an even mix of students who are passive users and active users
  • All use YouTube to watch videos, but only one student had their own YouTube channel to create daily vlogs (this student has 200 subscribers)
  • One student had used Periscope
  • Most use SnapChat and enjoy the story element, especially from the celebrities they follow, and they like the way the snaps geo-tag themselves so you can see what’s happening is a specific area/event.
  • None had heard of Riff (Facebook’s latest video making app)

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 21.53.04Aside from the points above, we found out that YikYak, the live, anonymous app showing what people are saying in your area, has now been blocked from being used within 1.5 miles of any schools due to the inappropriate, nasty and in some cases violent content that was being shared and circulated on the app. The content was so bad that the Police were forced to step in, as pupils were personally victimised and threats were being posted about students and teachers in the school. This pandemic had spread within a day to schools in the surrounding area. I mentioned in a previous post the problems with anonymity. As sad and disgusting as it is, this episode backs my point up entirely, that the power to hide behind a keyboard with few consequences fuels and promotes indecency and anti-social behaviour. As a complete juxtaposition to YikYak, Avanatta has been invited into schools to see how students can use it for both social interaction with friends, and as an aid to their studies and school lives, thanks to our anti-bullying stance, and our innovative social technology.
We decided the best way to demonstrate the app was the let the students play with it themselves, so we split them into groups and gave them an hour with which they had to re-create a moment from history using the app and the suite of editing features. More than anything this mini project highlighted how intuitive teenagers are when it comes to technology and social media.

Watch the natta'ing of the Titanic here
Watch the natta’ing of the Titanic here!

The groups came back, some sooner than expected (a swift reprimand by another member of staff lead to one lot giving up and returning to class after 20 minutes; they argued their natta was therefore about discrimination. Gotta hand it to them for their ability to twist what would ordinarily be considered a failure into a mild success!) and we watched each natta back on the big screen. To be honest, the quality of what they came up with was pretty high. We had a prize of Vue cinema vouchers to give to the winners, which was quite apt as the winning group we selected had re-enacted the sinking of the Titanic, or more accurately, the movie depiction of the sinking of the Titanic!

Now that they had all had the chance to play with the app, we decided to start asking them to critique it. We wanted to know what they liked, didn’t like, would like to see changed or added and then we wanted to know which celebrities they’d like to see on the app and what they would like to spend their nattaCoins on. The nattaCoins is what got the pupils the most excited. Finally a social network rewarding them for interacting with their friends! Hallelujah!

So what products do they want to spend their coins on?

  • Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 21.59.44iTunes apps & music
  • Microsoft vouchers
  • Amazon & Waterstones book vouchers
  • Fifa Players
  • Cheeky Nandos!
  • McDonalds
  • Mobile data & credit
  • Clothes vouchers
  • Cinema tickets

The good news is we’re in talks about most of these products already, so hopefully the wishes of each of the students will be granted come the time our marketplace opens around August!

When it comes to things they’d like added or changed on the app, it was great to see we are thinking on the same lines as these students; they’d like a button similar to the ones on current social networking apps that zooms the screen back to the top of the page to the most recent nattas, as well as the option to make the camera to record without keeping your finger down to allow for hands free natta’ing (if you’ve invested in a selfie stick, you want to be able to use it, right?!) and also the possibility of recording a voice over for the entire natta, not just the individual clips.

When it comes to the adverts, they weren’t hugely thrilled by the prospect of having to watch them, but most agreed they would happily sacrifice a few of their natta coins if it meant they could skip the 30 second video ads, while others said if it meant they could earn a few extra coins they’d opt in to watching a few more ads!

We also asked the students which celebrities they’d like to connect with. The Chelsea team was one response, which Jack naturally agreed with, as well as the girls from Geordie Shore, a few YouTube such as PewdiePie, Channing Tatum (because hello abs!) and a few comedians. it was at this point that they managed to connect with Lee Ryan from Blue who was kind enough to give them a shout out, and tipped some of the students his nattaCoins! That got them pretty excited, it was amazing to watch!

To watch the feedback we got from the class, you can find a selection of nattas on my channel (@GeorginaPursey). It was a really fantastic morning and we took away some fantastic feedback with us which will now heavily influence the way we push forward with development. We have two more school trials to conduct this week and next, so it’ll be interesting to see if the feelings are echoed at those schools. Hopefully it’ll help push the app out to more students across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and the rest of the country!

Wish us luck!

G x