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The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Kyran Schmidt of Outverse
The Fund is a founder community and early stage fund, by founders for founders.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. This week the spotlight is on Kyran Schmidt, co-founder of Outverse, a next-generation community platform combining forums, custom spaces, video and more.
Community used to be heavily tied to one’s physical location, but with the emergence of technology, the definition of community is changing and online communication tools have become ingrained into daily life, both for personal use and in the workspace. Flexible employment and remote teams are on the rise and there are online communities for all types of people with common interests. It’s more important than ever to have tools that support these communities that span across the globe. Co-founders Kyran Schmidt, Ollie Steadman, and Jeylani Jeylani created Outverse as the next-generation community platform combining forums, custom spaces, video, and more. Outverse allows for advanced customization to build unique spaces via simple no-code building blocks, whether it be beautifully designed forums, live video, or collaborative custom spaces where media and content can be embedded.
Kyran spent close to 5 years as an investor at Seedcamp, a leading European seed fund. He has a long running interest in community, building and designing forums as far back as the early 2000s. Jeylani has a background in software engineering and Ollie has led product management and growth in an early-stage startup. This is not your typical founding team, as Kyran, Jeylani, and Ollie have been close friends for many years. Kyran met Jeylani over a decade ago at the University of Oxford and have been close friends ever since. Meanwhile Ollie and Jeylani met at Tab, a YC-backed company where they were two of the earliest employees and worked closely together for over 3 years. The three forged a tight bond that resulted in founding Outverse together last year.
You can also sign up for early access on their website.
Why is Outverse going to win?
We have an amazingly talented team which cares deeply about reimagining the community experience – and we have the product and engineering expertise to execute on that vision. Collectively as a team we’ve built our own communities ranging from the tens to the tens of thousands, and this experience has helped shape our understanding for what community builders need. Generationally we also bring a different perspective on software. Many of the alternatives out there for communities have been around for a number of years and just feel a bit dated, static and generally uninspiring. Meanwhile we’ve seen a huge upgrade in the collaborative nature of products over the years — look at the likes of Notion and Airtable — and we’re infusing some of those same elements into Outverse.
How does Outverse inspire “customer love”?
When we speak to users and communities they really love the modern UI that we have with the platform. As a team, we care a lot about the importance of delightful product design and that comes through even in our beta. We understand that for customers and users, these community touch points are so mission critical that you really have to provide a wonderful experience. Another big product principle for us is making sure Outverse is super customizable, configurable, and extensible. We allow customizability, both in terms of the way these community spaces look and also how they behave. This building-blocks style approach is a huge draw for people, as they come away feeling really creatively empowered.
What have been some of your greatest challenges founding Outverse?
Community tooling is an interesting space right now. While many of the alternatives are uninspiring, they feel very ‘safe’. No one ever got fired for building a community on Slack! For us, that implied that we needed to get strong buy-in from communities which required our early beta product to be quite feature-rich and comprehensive. We have three pillars, really: forums, Notion-style ‘custom spaces’ and live video. Each of these were not trivial to build and it was an undertaking to get them to a state where we were happy to share with users and begin community-building ourselves.
Any book recommendations?
One book I think is really underrated is How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone by Brian McCullough. It's basically a fascinating and fun history of the internet. I would strongly recommend it to founders and anyone in technology.