Kickstarter Meets Change.org

Everyone wants to make a difference in the world, but many startups are busy chasing dollars, dreams, and the competition. I just learned about a new startup, Yoxi (“yo-see”) that my friend Josh Fischer from grade school is involved with, which aims for a higher goal.

Yoxi takes the game aspects that I tried hard to push at [crowdsourced photo-funding site] Zivity — by voting for a team, you take on responsibilities to promote and evangelize it — except that Yoxi wraps these social game mechanics around Kickstarter-like social change projects. So teams pick projects, make videos to promote them, and then compete to get funding and change the world. It reminds me of Kickstarter meets Change.org — and that’s meant very much as a compliment!

Slick and Glossy

Yoxi is very much the kind of “non-tech” startup I’m known to roll my eyes at: everyone looks very hip and fashionable, the site and the videos are very well-produced, there are no founding engineers or technical back-end aspect, etc. — but Yoxi seems like an awesome company built to do good things… and Josh is a very funny guy. I think they’ll do quite well.

Check it out

yoxi diagram

(They used to have some sweet videos at http://yoxi.tv/post/611 and http://yoxi.tv/post/476, but the links are now broken)

The FAQ also has a nice visual section on how the game mechanics work too. [ed: the link to the FAQ is now broken too, wtf]

My advice to Yoxi at this point:

1. Provide something for all types of users.

Right now, some aspects of Yoxi feels like there’s nothing  for the middle of the 80:19:1 group to do — power-users can create videos, and casual users can tweet, but it doesn’t feel like much of a community … yet.

The “80:19:1” principle in online communities is based on the famous Pareto Principle or “80:20” rule, here referring to the idea that 20% of users contribute 80% of the value.

The 80:19:1 rule turns 80:20 on its head and shows that, in online communities like YouTube, Flickr, Kickstarter, Github: 

  • 80% of visiting users are passive consumers who will watch a video or click a link, then ultimately leave. These are the vast majority of “silent” users in most communities, who generate a tidy sum of activity and ad revenue, but don’t visibly contribute to the site.

  • 19% of users will go the extra step and vote on items, rate things, post comments, flag issues, etc. These users are sometimes called “curators” or enthusiasts.

  • finally, just 1% of users (one percent!) will go “all the way”, creating and uploading their OWN original content that excites other users and pulls them into the site, fueling growth.

These ratios aren’t exact, obviously, but they’ve been empirically shown to repeat themselves in community after community. What the 80:19:1 rule suggests, in community design, is that there needs to be variable levels of engagement for each type of user. If your site only has things to do for the 1%’ers, then 99% of your users will be confused as to what to do (this is a standard “expert community” problem).

Yoxi is just getting started, so partly this might be a cold-start / Catch-22 problem; with more engaged users, the site might getmore engaging … but until that happens, Yoxi should experiment with different ways to get users to engage and share more. Too many of the video pages are simply … EMPTY.

2. Provide real video embeds

The videos on Yoxi are great, so they should make them embed-able.

Yoxi video player

A huge part of how Youtube won (besides Flash) was by allowing their video player to be embedded on other sites so that videos could travel. Bloggers, social networkers, and reporters all used YouTube embeds to enhance their own sites and give YouTube additional distribution. Yoxi uses some super-slick Flash video player, above, but it doesn’t allow embedding. If they had, I would have embedded their videos in this post, and you might be watching their video instead of reading my post.

So check out Yoxi, see what you think, vote on some projects, and change the world.