Interview by Mateja Plaskan
Julio Santos is a software engineer with a Master in Informatics and Computing Engineering. His main interests are web and mobile development, interaction design, and building Facebook applications. He is based in betahaus Berlin as lead developer and founder of the Facebook application, Gruvi. Gruvi is a platform that helps entertainment brands build and manage their communities by allowing users to give and receive movie recommendations within a network.
Gruvi is a start up registered in UK, but you started to develop the program in Copenhagen. How did you become involved with founding Gruvi, and what inspired you to found it?
I started out as one of the two initial developers, not a founder. But it so happened that, as time went by, I developed a very close relationship with both the product and original founders, and I eventually became part of the company, and am now considered a co-founder.
What made you decide to come to Berlin to develop your product? How has working from betahaus affected you and your work?
I came to Berlin because right now it really feels like the European capital. I came here from Copenhagen, and I had gotten a little tired of how strict everyone was over there - though I found it easier to communicate with people, since there were more English speakers there. In Berlin, I find everyone to be more open - you can communicate and connect with nearly anyone. It really feels like people are living here!
I had been working from a similar coworking space in Copenhagen. This particular place was located in a building formerly owned by Nokia, who, after having experienced an unfortunate round of layoffs, had left a lot of free space. So the environment here isn’t radically different, but I still prefer betahaus.
You’ve worked with some well-known studios before. How did you get in touch with them?
One of the original founders has a background in the film industry, and used to work with a trailer distribution company, so he had a lot of contacts and a good idea of how the industry worked. Aside from that, our product is revolutionizing the way business is done in that industry, and so these brands end up coming to us for help, without us having to ask them.
What is the aim of your product? Do you have any challenges in the future for Gruvi?
the Gruvi app
The aim of our product is to do something with movie recommendations that has never really been done right before. There are already products like Netflix, who use complex algorithms to try and determine what movies one wants to watch. Nobody really cares about that. Instead, people are more likely to watch movies based on recommendations from a friend, or from someone they trust to know their taste. So we base our product on that, by helping people find contacts who can get to know their taste and recommend movies to them.
What kind of advice would you have for young software engineers, particularly those wishing to found their own start ups
Software engineering is probably the best job to have at the moment. There is amazing demand in the market for software engineers, so it’s a highly-valued position. However, I see a lot of people getting pulled away from what they’d perhaps really like to do because they are so seduced by such a highly-valued job. In the end, the quality of your product depends entirely on how passionate you are about your work, so it’s best if you do something you love, even though you may not make as much money from it. Of course, if you have a family to feed, money should be more of a concern, but before that, I’d say you should just do what you love!
Want to join Julio and other entrepreneurs at betahaus? See how here!
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To be honest, I sort of fell into it. I was always working somewhere between content marketing and the music industry and around seven years ago a friend of a friend was searching for someone to help him curating music for his boutique surf spot on the beach in Costa Rica. The owner was a big music fan, but he just didn't have time to keep all the music up-to-date. So I got introduced to him, we shared similar tastes, and agreed that I would do the music for his space - curating it and updating it with new music on a regular basis.
This for me was a dream come true. I could finally work with music all day, and at the same time, I could help create an awesome experience for the guests. I saw people's reactions when they heard a song they liked. I saw them dancing, getting a little closer to each other at the bar and that for me was really rewarding.
This was the moment when I realized that there is something special about this idea and I got interested if there is actually market out there. I did some market research, and a lot of interviews with different hoteliers people in the industry trying to get more feedback. And the idea started growing more and more.
Interesting is the story of the last years winner in the category “Creative”. Hamburg based headraft literally took music experience to the next level by creating the world’s first AR Music Video for the German band “die Fantastischen Vier”. Designed for their song “Tunnel”, the cited app unfolds a virtual story world once the track starts playing, giving fans the opportunity to go on an interactive journey with the band rather than being a passive viewer.
Applications are now open! Finalists will be awaited by a curious jury of five leading industry experts. Among others, Kathleen Cohen who was already taking part in the first year will be in the panel of judges again. With a 25-year multiplatform career history under her belt, she is one of the most regarded in the field. As a digital experience expert, she has successfully implemented projects for DreamWorks Interactive and IBM Innovation, to name a few.
Needless to say, the yearly AUREA Award is definitely the place to be. Apply and become a member of the community bringing together all the promising products and solutions in the AR/VR sector.
Well, both. Currently we offer the following two options: shorter publicly available Brand Playlists and long-form private Soundtracks for spaces. For both of them we work closely with the client to understand how sound fits into their brand DNA and what their audience is like.
We believe that the guests’ experience with a particular space doesn’t have to begin and end with their stay. The idea of the Brand Playlist is to be a public brand playlists designed to engage the customers before, during, and after their visit at a space. It’s always accessible for them and serves as a new, dynamic marketing channel.
The Soundtrack is slightly different. It takes sometimes up to weeks of work and is designed by a world-class artist, DJ, or tastemaker. For it we first work with you to develop a deep understanding of your business and style. Then we match you with the perfect artist, DJ, or tastemaker to create unique, always fresh playlists, custom tailored to match your brand.
In both cases, we update them regularly based on guest habits and clients’ needs.
The way we engage with the music community is something really important for us and honestly, what makes us different than other background music providers. A lot of the background music providers out there have internal teams of maybe five or six DJs that do all of the music for their clients. We aim to connect with the local scene and always work with local DJs. There's some kind of magic in finding the exact right artists for the brand.
And on the flip side of it, when we hire artists, we make sure that the project is also inspiring for them and that they would be interested in participating. We always make sure to pay them well. The whole project creates for them a new income stream that they wouldn't have otherwise.
Yes! This was really fun. The objective with the betahaus "betabeer sounds" playlist was to showcase the community side of betahaus. There are so many cool, interesting people in the betahaus community and we thought a playlist could be a perfect way to not only help bring the community together but also show the diverse funkiness of the communities of Berlin and Neukölln, which is why Hazy Pockets, a longtime local Berlin DJ known for his eclectic mixes, was perfect for this project.
This playlist moves from bluesy 60s rock into surf and tropicalia, picking up momentum into Motown and onwards through some laid back disco tunes. Perfect for the betabeer events betahaus hosts monthly!
Oh, there are just so many! Like the Imren Grill for instance where you can find the best homemade Turkish food or Das Gift and Gordon which are both run by great music people. Kohelenquelle in Prenzleuer Berg is my favorite local bar (or rather kneipe). To satisfy my techno / electronic records needs I always go to Hard Wax and one of my most special places is the Zions Kirche steeple, which has an awesome view of the city and a great Weinerei close by.