Shalom Life | October 23, 2014

Startup Club: Samba

The Tel Aviv-based fun video messaging app recently won the 'Best App' Award at SXSW for its sleek, innovative design

By: Zak Edwards

Published: April 24th, 2014 in Business » Israel

Startup Club: Samba

Over the past few decades, a growing number of small businesses involved in various industries have popped up around the world meeting the needs of an ever-growing, ever-changing market.

Jewish businessmen and innovators continue to excel throughout these industries, displaying their prowess as creative, forward-thinking entrepreneurs, and tapping into continuously developing markets with 'startup' companies.

In a bid to recognize these decorated entrepreneurs for their ongoing contributions and advancements to these fields, Shalom Life is pleased to present: Startup Club, highlighting the best and the brightest of Jewish entrepreneurs who continue to provide our community with new, influential and innovative ideas that will forever change the way we interact with the world, and with one another.

Follow our lead and we’ll follow yours – send us tips or suggestions via email, comment below or tweet us @ShalomLife, in our mission to celebrate the most visionary of Jewish entrepreneurs.

Check out last week's inductee into the Club here.

Business: Samba

Base of Operations: Tel Aviv, Israel

Entrepreneurs: Barak Hachamov, Shay Erlichmen, Ronel Mor, and Oren Meiri

Industry: Video Messaging

Founded: 2013

Reaction videos have become an entire genre of viral content, from the more dubious reaction videos to other, perhaps more innocent versions like cute puppy videos. Making those reaction videos takes a lot of time and has plenty of obstacles, like syncing video and audio. It isn’t like you can just use your phone to make it instantly.

Well, actually you can.

With Samba, you can change the way we communicate, or at least, CEO Barak Hachamov thinks so. “Samba offers a new experience that mimics human behavior and kicks it up a notch,” he said of his app. “No emoticon can ever compete with a true human expression. With Samba, every message gets the response it deserves.” Conversations will certainly change with an app like this.

The app allows users to send videos up to 15 seconds long that record the audience’s reactions and instantly send it back, fully synchronized and ready to play. All the hassle of the reaction video is removed, so the app could change conversation. Think SnapChat but video, and they aren’t deleted. Of course, screen capture means SnapChats aren’t deleted either. But Samba just made the reaction video more accessible, more fun, and easier than ever to make. Just watch their video explanation:


Think about it: Vine took the world by storm last year with their 6-second looping videos mostly because they were easy to make and easy to share. Because you can do so much with such a little app, Vine opened up new ways for people to talk and share. With Samba, you can literally change the way people engage with one another. If Vine went from nothing to an entire medium in less than a year, imagine what people could do with something like Samba.

Samba hit the scene last year and has quickly been gaining steam. The company was founded by Hachamov with an initial $630,000 in investments from a couple of presidents at AOL and other investors like Ron Zuckerman and Rony Zarum. As the founder of my6sense, a content management app, Hachamov has experience with tech startups, hopefully experience that will move Samba from a passing trend to an integral part of our lives (and something that shows up on our Facebook walls. But with a magical frequency that is less than BitStrips but more than those videos that are automatically playing now, for some reason).

The fact Samba just walked away with the SXSW Best App award hopefully means they are on the rise. The app is currently only available for iOS, but that doesn’t mean you need an Apple product to watch the videos. Samba has wisely let non-iOS users access the videos via SMS. Not only will they be able to enjoy the product, but when Samba expands to other platforms, they’ll already have a fanbase.

This type of openness and control is Samba’s founding principle. Users can delete videos, fast forward and rewind with ease, and export the files out of the device. Samba’s open policy means they are poised to become viral just by not imposing the limits other similar apps impose.

But allowing users so much freedom means the company’s monetization remains a challenge. Hachamov says premium content and features is the best way to keep making money. Like all messenger apps and startups coming out right now, Samba is entering a saturated marketplace, one where recent multi-billion dollar acquisitions are making everyone scramble to be the next big thing. But Samba is confident that they are doing something different.

“We are all about the response and the feedback. It’s how we position ourselves. Some things are not deserving of more than an expression – in that case with competitors, you’d send back a smiley,” Hachamov said in an interview with TechCrunch. “If this smiley is replaced by a video of a smile, it’s like emoticons on steroids.”

Samba hopes to occupy a space between SnapChat, Vine, and Instagram, but I personally think you should pay attention to your social media feeds. This app may revive the genre of reaction videos online. Of course, it may just be the next stage in sexting.

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