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VOL. 129 | NO. 145 | Monday, July 28, 2014

 

ProudOnTV Offers Alternative to Wide-Open Social Media

By Don Wade

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In a world in which social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. – can be all that’s right about technology or all that’s wrong with it, ProudOnTV is making it a business to eliminate some of those problems for people.

“A lot of people like social media,” said Kati Thomas, chief business development officer and managing partner for ProudOnTV, which has opened a division in Memphis. “But social media has drawbacks. Privacy is a big issue.”

THOMAS

ProudOnTV (www.ProudOnTV.com) was up and running in Palo Alto, Calif., in 2012. A private social networking company, ProudOnTV provides the capability to create and store private photo albums and video diaries that can only be accessed by approved people.

ProudOnTV is collaborating with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a natural fit as patients and families may want to share information but in a discreet way. Currently, the company is offering customers discounted gift cards ($20 instead of $60) for unlimited online storage space, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting St. Jude.

Thomas says they’re helping raise money for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon later this year. So far, she said, they’ve sold around 15,000 gift cards.

“Some of these people are patients,” she said. “And some are just supportive of St. Jude.”

So far in Memphis, ProudOnTV has hired three staff members beyond Thomas. She said they hope to add a couple more this year and then get the staff up to 15 people in 2015.

“Memphis is such a hotbed of innovation and technology,” Thomas said.

Michal Chovanec, creator and CEO of ProudOnTV, was in Prague more than four years ago when he came across a group of street performers who had drawn a big crowd. Chovanec started talking with the performers and was surprised to learn they didn’t have a website for promoting themselves.

That inspired the idea that became ProudOnTV.

“It’s designed for ordinary people with extraordinary skills,” Chovanec has said.

No special software is needed to use ProudOnTV. The whole concept is geared toward providing an easy and safe alternative to public social media options.

“It’s like having your own social network and website in one,” Thomas said.

For example, a user might make some content (say, from a wedding) available to a larger group of people – family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances – but make video and pictures from another event (a daughter’s dance recital) available to a smaller and more select group of people.

“I use Facebook, but I don’t put family things on there,” Thomas said.

YouTube recently quit accepting music from amateur artists, Thomas said, and they’ve seen a surge in business since then.

“We’ve got that platform,” she said.

Thomas says they have primarily marketed to small businesses and families/individuals, but the reach is about to grow.

“We’re being courted by some big ones,” she said, mentioning the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, which makes grants focused on economic development, education, and economic, social and racial justice with the aim of improving the lives of Arkansans.

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