Why My Social Media App Failed

Tom Lombardozzi’s (Co-founder and CFO)Take:

Back in May of 2019, my good buddy and I ventured out to start our first startup. We had an idea to make a new social media platform exclusively for your campus. The app would feature 8 second videos, a top 10 page, and you could only access it through a .edu email.

After 7 months of development (3 months longer than expected), we launched on October 24th. We had 250 users in the first 24 hours and over 30% engagement rate. Yet, as the weeks went on we gained users and lost engagement. After 2 weeks we had 500 users, but had dropped to a 15% engagement rate. Finally, we realized what the problem was, no one wanted to post videos until they saw other people post videos. This resulted in a major catch 22. We tried to brainstorm ways to drive up engagement, such as making the app anonymous, but the legal implications of that can get way too complex.

The problem at the end of the day was the oversaturation of the social media market. Our app was meant to serve as a place for college students to post funny stupid videos. What we failed to realize was that snapchat and barstool accounts already served this purpose. Changing the Gen Z behavior when it comes to the social media environment is hard, and something that we couldn’t achieve.

Dan Crocker’s (Co-Founder and CEO) Take:

In theory, CampU was a great idea. It was intended to be the hub for social media content that teenagers love most: wacky, wild, and funny college content. Almost anyone who we told the idea to before our launch thought it was a really cool idea. Things always sound better in theory though.

There were many problems we underestimated. For one, how do you get a bunch of kids with short attention spans to pay attention to a brand new app, when they are already using 3+ social media apps daily? It was hard, even though we got a few hundred people to sign up and at least 20–30 different people posting, that wasn’t enough to keep the content stream going.

Secondly, our lack of tech experience leads to a lot of poor planning and execution. With one fairly intermediate developer designing the entire app, timelines and due dates were often thrown out the window if he needed more time to figure things out. Bugs or problems that a development team could easily knock out in an hour or two would take us days, sometimes weeks.

Final thoughts:

Although CampU failed, Dan and I learned more life and business lessons than classrooms have ever taught us. We were able to take an idea for an app and bring it to life over 7 months. This is an experience that not many people are lucky enough to have. We also know what it’s like to work in a team, have tough conversations, deal with equity, gain feedback, work with lawyers, disagree on ideas, see a product through till the end, along with many, many other lessons.

What will be the next social media app?

Tom: The next big platform will have a new form of content or change the way we view current content.
Dan: The next big platform will be something we were trying to achieve, something with close social media groups. There are existing platforms, but one app will perfect it.

This was a feature piece in our most recent newsletter. Subscribe here https://www.genzvoice.com/subscribe.

GZV provides startup-focused insights on the gen z market so that private investors can make better informed investments. See our website www.genzvoice.com for legal disclosures.

Founding Partner of GZV