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August 19, 2020

Previewing Kumospace

Digging into Kumospace, a pre-launch video-conferencing platform bringing serendipity back to the workplace.

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I'm excited to share something new. This is the first edition of In Flight, a series designed to help new companies win their first true believers and early adopters find their next beloved product.

By being a subscriber, you'll learn about promising new apps first and have the chance to be a part of their closed beta testing. I hope this serves as a jumping-off point for more connection and conversation about the day's most intriguing products.

Today, I'm excited to share Kumospace, a video-conferencing app that has more in common with The Legend of Zelda than Zoom. I've had a chance to play with the tool and was impressed by how much more natural conversation feels on the platform, particularly in larger groups.

You'll learn more about Brett and Yang's inspiration below, and get a chance to apply for access. Finally, if you'd like to keep receiving the In Flight series, please sign up by pressing the button below.

What inspired you to start Kumospace?

Shortly after COVID-19 restrictions started, Brett was struck by how unpleasant large video chat experiences were. Even with a bunch of friends, a Zoom call can feel like a chore. He pitched Yang the idea of using spatial audio in a virtual space. Something almost game-like in its traversability and flexibility. Yang was instantly intrigued and so the team spent a few hours discussing how it would work. The prototype came together a few weeks later and we realized that we had something pretty exciting on our hands.​

What gap did you see in the market?

Video chat really doesn’t work for many-to-many communication. In a large video chat group, only one person can talk at once, so you basically have one person speaking and everyone else awkwardly waiting their turn. It also doesn't allow for easy breakout conversations. While you can create separate rooms, that doesn't capture the spontaneity of conversation and socialization.

What are Kumospace’s key features?

Kumospace places you in a virtual space and allows you to explore that space. We use spatial audio, meaning the closer you are to someone, the louder they sound. When you put all of this together, it helps recreate the real-life social dynamics...so extensively that we were surprised ourselves! In Kumospace, you bump into people, you scope the room, and you float in and out of conversations. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself looking for the host before leaving.

You can check out a demo video here.​

What do you see as your biggest challenges? Why?

Virtual events are going to be huge; it’s just a question of who nails the balance between utility and fun. We know video chat is useful for work, and we know that video games are entertaining. Can we successfully marry the two concepts? We’ll see :)

What's your vision for Kumospace?

We believe that video chat today is boring and undifferentiated right now and that there’s going to be a lot of innovation in this space (pun intended). Much like how unique physical spaces provide context for various types of conversations (beach vs. bar vs. boardroom), people will want to spend time online in unique virtual spaces that do the same. Our long-term vision is that everyone will have their own space, a little bit like virtual real estate.

Lastly, if you had to pick a rap lyric to summarize Kumo, what would it be?

In west Philadelphia born and raised
In the Kumospace is where I spend most of my days…

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air