As younger consumers are shifting to social apps that focus on video and more personal forms of social networking, a new social app called Studio, launching today, is introducing a group camcorder experience that allows groups of friends to share videos with one another in private albums.
These albums, or “studios” as they’re called, are available to everyone in the group as a way to record and share everyday memories or vlogs in a more creative format than seen in your standard group chat.
The app is today launching to the general public, backed by $3.3 million in seed funding led by GV’s M.G. Siegler.
Studio co-founder and CEO Matt Hidalgo, previously of Cockroach Labs and Twitter, explains how the startup landed on this idea of collaborative short-form video.
Initially, the team had explored other ideas in social, including a photo-based bookmarking tool called Collie, which confirmed there was some level of user demand for a collaborative, but private, social networking experience. That app gained traction with high schoolers over the summer who used it to make bucket lists.
But the format Collie used didn’t quite hit the mark, leading the team to turn to the idea of using video instead.
“The younger generation…have this insatiable appetite and desire to consume video and to create video,” says Hidalgo. “And it’s still a format that I would say is very under-explored — a lot of the bigger apps that are out there do video and video editing in a very distinct way that stems from where they started,” he says. “We believe that there’s a lot more interactivity and dimension to explore with video.”
With Studio, users open up the app to a camera that looks like an old-fashioned camcorder, then record videos that are up to 10 seconds long which are saved to the private, shared albums known as studios. The idea is to use the albums as a way to record and stitch together the group’s everyday memories in a way that elevates them creatively. It shouldn’t feel like you’re recording causal Snapchat videos, but rather mini-episodes of a broader story. Hidalgo likens the experience to crafting collaborative “TV shows,” in a sense.
The company landed on this idea when it found its power users were leveraging the app to record highlights for their school clubs or sports teams — like recording videos for game day or other events. It reminded Hidalgo of how his parents would film home movies that would entertain the family as they watched them back over the years. Studio aims to offer a similar vibe.
However, the app as it stands today, is more barebones than some might expect from today’s social apps which are often cluttered with AR effects, filters, editing tools, and more. In Studio, you can invite friends to a room, record 10-second videos together (which are aggregated each day as “episodes”), add captions — and not much more.
It felt odd that there wasn’t even a built-in way to “react” to friends’ videos, by adding likes or comments, as is standard on social apps. But that’s by design, Hidalgo notes.
“Our prevailing way of building product was to build the most stripped-down version possible [and] test out the core mechanic,” he says, adding that the app has no commenting or chatting. Instead, users are meant to react by recording their own videos to continue the “episode.”
Of course, the idea for a group video app isn’t novel. Studio shares some similarities with other video apps from years past, like the video texting app Glide which once topped Instagram for a time. The concept is also reminiscent of Flashtape, the video texting app from the creators of YOLO, but lengthens the supported video time frame from 1 second to 10 as a differentiator.
Still, top social app BeReal wasn’t entirely novel either — it’s very much inspired by an older social app, FrontBack. It simply introduced the dual camera concept to a new generation of users, and has now grown to reach 46 million global installs and a top 10 position on the App Store in over a dozen countries.
GV’s Siegler, who returned to seed investing around a year and a half ago, says he’s interested in the potential for new social apps catering to a younger audience.
“With what’s going on with the large companies…it does feel like there’s this time of — if it’s not a full-on changing of the guard, it feels like people are at least opening up again to trying new things,” he explains. “There’s been this lingering feeling that these [larger social] networks are getting up there in age. The demographics have shifted — and young people are looking for what’s next and are trying different types of networks.”
He believes Studio’s team is looking to build more slowly and methodically to capture its audience, instead of trying to blow up overnight as a viral sensation, as many social apps now do today on TikTok.
“There’s going to be a lot of micro-pivots along the way and, listening to their user base about what it is that they actually want to build,” he notes.
New York-based Studio is a team of three co-founders, including Aditya Mohile (previously of Facebook) and Chris Chao, in addition to Hidalgo, as well as two interns. It’s currently hiring a founding designer and founding engineer.
Other investors include Mercury Fund, Pareto Holdings, and various angels such as Cockroach Labs CEO and cofounder Spencer Kimball, Gumroad CEO and cofounder Sahil Lavingia, Behance CEO and cofounder Scott Belsky, Anchor cofounder Mike Mignano, Square founding designer Robert Andersen, Yummy CEO and cofounder Vicente Zavarce, Kevin Carter, Brat CEO and cofounder Darren Lachtman, and the Black Angel Group.