Alright, fellow nature and wildlife lovers: the all-new media platform “Mammalz” has officially changed the game. Co-founders Alexander Finden and Rob Whitehair have joined together to create a niche community dedicated to all things nature. Animals, plants, places, the people-this platform will have it all, and a handful of ways to enjoy them too. Now THAT is the kind of rabbit hole I want to get lost down. Mammalz is not only designed to give their viewers an experience unlike any other platform currently available, their hopes for the impact the company may have on the future of our world’s ecosystems are also quite impressive. I sat down with Mammalz COO Alex Finden to get a better in-depth look at what is, in my opinion, the most exciting creation of the year!
DeeperBlue.com: How did the concept of Mammalz come about?
Alex Finden: Well, when I met Rob Whitehair, our CEO in April of 2017, Rob told me he had always wanted to start a new “channel” of sorts for nature media. Having worked in the wildlife filmmaking industry for over 20 years, Rob experienced first-hand the downfall of the industry as audiences shifted their viewing habits away from traditional television. I was struggling to break into the industry for the same reason. Something had to change, and Rob knew that, but he wasn’t exactly sure what the solution would look like. All he knew was that this “channel” had to have a social element and had to be accessible for younger audiences.
When I came on board, I was creating content for a YouTube and Twitch professional while helping her grow her community of followers. This was, of course, in between my underwater filmmaking endeavors. I saw how engaged and interactive the gaming community was on Twitch, and I also saw how lucrative their community-tipping model was for content creators. Twitch ultimately inspired us to create what became Mammalz, which is essentially a “Twitch for Nature” with elements from YouTube, Instagram, and Discord. Since the beginning of 2018, Rob and I have been designing and developing Mammalz full-time alongside our team. We’re very excited to announce that we’ll be opening a public beta by the end of August.
DB: How will the public be able to connect and/or interact with Mammalz?
AF: First of all, Mammalz is absolutely free to join. When we launch beta in August, there will be a native app available for iOS devices and a web version that is mobile-responsive for Android and desktop users. We anticipate having a native Android app by the beginning of 2020.
On Mammalz, anyone can contribute content of any type – photos, videos, podcasts, VR, 360 video, live-streams – and they can share that content across our platform and even across existing social media platforms. For all of you content producers out there, you retain full ownership of the content you share.
So far, it sounds like a glorified YouTube for nature, right? Well, there are a few unique elements to Mammalz, the most exciting of which will help democratize our entire industry.
Anyone, anywhere can purchase, trade, and accept our in-app currency called “seeds”, which will be available shortly after the beta. Imagine participating in a live-stream with a content creator you love and respect as they’re out on the ocean studying whales. Just as you reach your peak emotional state of inspiration, you can click a single button to donate any amount of seeds to that creator, who can then use that revenue to make a living, donate directly to a cause, or funnel into some other cool project. We’re essentially allowing the nature community to discover the most impactful and creative storytellers in the world and give them the opportunity to make a living doing what they love.
Another cool feature is our real-time discussions. Let’s say you are visiting British Columbia and you want to discover some epic local dive sites. You can jump into an existing discussion or create a new one to find other nature-loving people, like divers, in the area who can let you know when and where to go, almost as if you were starting a text group chat. Maybe you just watched an impactful film and want to talk about it with the people who made it and everyone else who watched it – do it in a discussion. Discussions are just one example of many Mammalz features that allow for more interactivity than ever before on a nature-specific media platform.
One more unique “feature” I’d like to mention is our endless pursuit to achieve our mission: to advance the human-nature relationship. Beyond creating a centralized, community-based platform for all things nature, we’ll be holding events every month that channel funds into pre-vetted non-profits and other organizations that do the most good for wildlife, conservation, and the environment. Mammalz will match all community funds for every event and provide featured organizations with the storytelling tools they need to keep everyone updated on their progress and use of funds.
DB: Mammalz has been referred to as “Twitch for Nature.” For those unfamiliar with Twitch, explain what this means in reference to a new “platform” of social media.
AF: I love the analogy “Twitch for Nature” because it reveals how focused we are on the community. Twitch is a live-streaming platform-specific to video gaming that has been around for quite a few years now. Since they were purchased by Amazon in 2014, they’ve provided full-time jobs to nearly 20,000 gamers, contributed millions of dollars to charities around the world, and have centralized a global community of over 140 million people around their love for gaming. Because of that level of success, esports is now rivaling the nation’s most popular traditional sports, the gaming industry has skyrocketed in value, and the way young people experience media has completely changed. We’re taking inspiration from that success and applying it to the nature community, which we believe is just as passionate and widespread as gaming, but nobody has tried to centralize it.
I would like to mention how cool live-streaming will be for Mammalz since it’s the core media type on Twitch and is mostly responsible for its community interactivity. We live in a time now where live-streaming from a computer or your phone is no longer the limit. New technologies like modem-bonding live-streaming backpacks allow content creators to give real-time, mobile, hands-free experiences of the world anywhere where one has even the faintest signal. Now, imagine the possibilities for nature storytelling. We have some exciting plans to provide this gear to a select number of content creators early on, so definitely stay updated as we reveal more this fall.
DB: Can ANYONE become a contributor for Mammalz?
AF: Yes! Whether you’re a photographer, filmmaker, scientist, a non-profit organization, a media conglomerate, or just someone who loves birding in their backyard, you can contribute content to Mammalz just like you would contribute content to any other social platform. We’re taking precautions from day one to ensure your content ownership stays with you, to scan for and prevent any potential copyright infringements, and to support so many media formats that your only limitation will be your own creativity.
It’s also worth mentioning here that we’re tackling many of the data privacy, content, and harassment problems that platforms like Facebook have been facing. Mammalz is a mission-driven, niche community ecosystem that is directed by its own users. All of the legal, strategic, and creative decisions we’ll make as a company will be a direct result of what the community demands. We’re done with this “top-down” approach that’s being taken by social media giants right now, so we are taking steps to develop far greater trust and credibility amongst our userbase wherever possible, like integrating smart security solutions to make sure our platform is safe.
DB: How does Mammalz hope to change the trajectory of our world’s ecosystems?
AF: Nothing drives change faster than communicating in an effective way. On Mammalz, we’re connecting a global community of nature-lovers to continue the discourse about our most pressing ecosystem challenges. This will be a phenomenal start, but we’re not stopping there.
Like I mentioned previously, our community-tipping tools will be a very fun new way to contribute funding toward the boots on the ground who are doing the most good. Mammalz will always be matching donations and doing our own part to conserve and protect the world’s ecosystems because it’s our mission. Oh, and by the way, we’re a Public Benefit Corporation, so achieving our mission is legally prioritized to the same level as making our shareholders happy.
Here’s one last cool thing. By partnering with data science organizations and innovative university labs, we’re going to make a citizen scientist out of every Mammalz user. By pooling the platform’s media and metadata on plants and animals, we can begin to track and identify populations to the species level by training machine learning algorithms that are already very advanced. Pretty soon, we’ll not only be able to provide bulk data to scientists but we’ll also be able to give our users an augmented experience of the natural world in which any plant or animal sighting can be identified instantly. The result will be a more interactive, better-understood relationship between humans and the natural world; another step in the right direction.
There you have it, folks! If you’re interested in learning more about Mammalz and how to become a creator, or just to stay informed, visit their website at www.mammalz.com.