Create social experiences for your brand
Daniel Liebeskind, CEO
Los Angeles, CA
Topia is a browser-based social platform with spatial video chat inside fully customizable virtual worlds. Topia evolves how people socialize online by making it easy for anyone, anywhere, to create a unique world and bring people together in a more human way.
Why solve this problem?
Most virtual meeting and webinar platforms are few-to-many, where only one person can talk at a time and the ‘meeting’ needs to be facilitated. Most of the platforms we consider "social" media do not enable real social experiences. They are often about broadcasting information rather than creating spaces for human connection. Topia encourages creativity and exploration, allowing you to transition between conversations as we do in real-world social spaces. It's easy to bring communities together to strengthen the bonds between individuals through serendipity and by creating shared memories, which are the basis of real relationships.
Hardest thing about being a founder?
As a founder, you wear many hats so you have to be good at a lot of different things. And you're trying to scale an organization while simultaneously building a product and figuring out a repeatable distribution system. If you manage to reach MVP escape velocity, your job shifts - perhaps from visionary and early-stage product builder to people manager, catalyst creator, and go-to-market. There is no one-size-fits-all for founders on your journey, so you'll have to reinvent the wheel in some ways depending on your product and market.
Biggest piece of advice for aspiring founders?
Build in public. Launch as quickly as you can and iterate based on customer / user feedback to build something they love. If you are the right team to make your idea happen, you don't have to be worried about potential competitors. Building great products is a skill you can practice, so don't wait until the perfect idea or moment strikes - start honing your abilities right now.
Most exciting moment so far?
We beta launched by co-hosting virtual Burning Man in August, 2020 during the height of the pandemic - only 4 months after our first line of code was written. That led to our being nominated as Product of the Year on ProductHunt along with 11 other contenders.
Why did you choose Bonfire?
Topia has a multi-sided marketplace and complex creator ecosystem. We are never going to serve ads, so making sure we build sustainable business models is critical to our long-term ability to empower creators to earn money by bringing people together. Bonfire has deep expertise at helping companies craft scalable business models that drive product/market fit.
What’s it like to work with Bonfire?
Whether it’s working with us to figure out the mechanics of our distribution motion, introducing us to key strategic partners, or helping us to refine our vision and pitch - Brett and Jen are polymaths who are able to tackle any question or issue we throw at them. In one particular moment, Brett conducted a multi-hour workshop with our team where we got into the gritty details of a new initiative we were pursuing and came away with a comprehensive distribution framework. Then we worked together over the following months to refine our plan based on our learnings.
Favorite book, useful tool or app?
I know this is supposed to be a non-fiction book, but I’m going with Shantaram. It’s based in Bombay, India and follows the life of an escaped Australian convict who overcomes the challenges of his life through cunning and street smarts. As he is engrossed in Bombay’s underworld, he learns what it takes to survive and thrive in a foreign environment. There are many lessons to be learned about being scrappy when you have nothing and it’s a fantastic journey.