Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 30, 2012


Host: Ted Simons

AlphaStripe.com


  • AlphaStripe.com is a social media company for veterans and military personnel to network and share stories about their service, which was started by ASU students. Learn more about AlphaStripe from its co-founders Eli Chmouni and Matthew Schmidt.
Guests:
  • Eli Chmouni - Student, ASU
  • Matthew Schmidt - Student, ASU
Category: community   |   Keywords: ASU, student, alpha, stripe, website, ,

View Transcript
>>>>> THIS WEEK, WE COMMEMORATED MEMORIAL DAY BY REMEMBERING THE MILITARY MEN AND WOMEN WHO DIED WHILE SERVING OUR COUNTRY. OFTEN, WHEN MILITARY PERSONNEL ARE LOST, THEIR STORIES DIE WITH THEM. BUT A TEAM OF ASU STUDENTS IS TRYING TO CHANGE THAT. IT'S LAUNCHING "ALPHASTRIPE" A NEW SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANY THAT HELPS VETERANS AND OTHERS IN THE MILITARY CONNECT AND SHARE THEIR STORIES ON-LINE. JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT THEIR NEW VENTURE IS ELI CHMOUNI, COFOUNDER AND CEO OF ALPHASTRIPE AND PETE CHINNICI, CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER. GREAT TO HAVE YOU HERE. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. I GAVE A BASIC OUTLINE HERE. GIVE ME A BETTER DEFINITION OF WHAT ALPHASTRIPE IS?

>>>> IT'S AN ON-LINE PLATFORM THAT ALLOWS ANYONE THAT'S BEEN IN CONFLICT ESPECIALLY MILITARY, FAMILY, FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS OR HUMANITARIAN AID GROUPS IN VIDEO, PHOTO AND AUDIO TEXT FORMAT.

>>>> YOU'VE GOT BASICALLY -- YOU CAN SPEAK, WRITE OR SHARE PHOTOGRAPHS? VIDEO? THE WHOLE NINE YARDS, RIGHT?

>>>> ABSOLUTELY.

>>>> YOU UPLOAD THIS STUFF? HOW'S IT WORK?

>>>> YOU WOULD GO ON, CREATE AN ACCOUNT, REGISTER, PUT YOUR UNIT INFORMATION, PAST SERVICES HISTORY, ANYTHING THAT'S RELEVANT TO YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY. AT THAT POINT, WOULD YOU CREATE A POST. WOULD YOU GO AHEAD AND UPLOAD AUDIO OR VIDEO FORMAT IF YOU HAD IT OR PHOTOS. ANYTHING THAT WOULD DEFINE YOUR STORY AND WHAT YOUR PART IN THE CONFLICT WAS.

>>>> THIS IS OPEN TO MILITARY AND CIVILIANS?

>>>> VETERANS, SUPPORTERS, ANYONE IN A CONFLICT AS WELL AS HUMANITARIAN GROUPS.

>>>> HOW DO YOU DEFINE THAT? ANYONE IN A CONFLICT. CIVILIANS IN SYRIA RIGHT NOW COULD HAVE SOME SORT OF ANGLE ON THIS?

>>>> EXACTLY. EVERY SINGLE CULTURE IN OUR WORLD HAS BEEN IN CONFLICT. THIS IS REALLY A GLOBAL PLATFORM. WE'RE AIMING AT MAKING IT A GLOBAL PLATFORM THAT ALLOWS ANYONE REALLY TO DOCUMENT THOSE STORIES, BECAUSE CIVILIANS, WHETHER THEY'RE JUST FLEEING A CONFLICT, THEY HAVE A STORY TO SHARE. OR SOMEONE WHO WAS ENTERING AS A SOLDIER, THEY HAVE A STORY TO SHARE.

>>>> THIS IS BETA TESTING SO FAR?

>>>> WE'RE IN PRIVATE BETA RIGHT NOW. WE HAVE A SPECIAL GROUP OF TESTERS WHO ARE USING THE SITE ON FRIDAY, IT'LL BE PUBLIC BETA.

>>>> OK, WHAT KIND OF STORIES ARE YOU HEARING MOST?

>>>> RIGHT NOW, A LOT OF THE FOOTAGE IS HEAVILY PREDOMINANT FROM IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE TWO RECENT WARS. WE HAVE FOOTAGE FROM SYRIA AND YEMEN AS WELL AS LEBANON.

>>>> WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING WITH THE FOOTAGE? WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE ARE THEY TRYING TO GET ACROSS?

>>>> BASICALLY AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE THERE AND HAVE A FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT OF WHAT THEY SAW AS OPPOSED TO WHAT YOU SEE OVER JUST THE LEFTOVER MEDIA PORTIONS. THEY GET TO PUT UP WHAT THEY SAW, HOW IT HAPPENED AND ALSO THEIR LITTLE DETAILS, LITTLE EMOTIONS AND PARTS OF IT THAT YOU DON'T REALLY GET TO GET FROM A NEWSCAST, SOMETHING YOU WOULD HAVE TO HEAR FROM THE PERSON THAT WAS INVOLVED WITH IT.

>>>> BUT SOMETIMES -- YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY, WHEN YOU HEAR SOMETHING FROM A NEWSCAST, NEWS ORGANIZATIONS DO THEIR BEST TO MAKE SURE IT'S ACCURATE AND BOTH SIDES ARE HEARD AND THESE SORTS OF THINGS. HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT GOES ON THERE AND WHAT DOESN'T GO ON THERE?

>>>> IT'S REALLY AN OPEN PLATFORM. IF A PERSON HAS A STORY TO SHARE WE'RE REALLY FOCUSING ON THE HUMAN AS A PERSON AND HIS STORY TO SHARE NOT REALLY POLITICAL KIND OF PUSH ON IT. SO IF THE PERSON HAS A STORY TO SHARE, THEY CAN UPLOAD IT AND MAKE IT PRIVATE OR MAKE IT PUBLIC. BECAUSE SOME OF THE FOOTAGE THAT MIGHT BE UPLOADED COULD BE GRAPHIC AND THE SOLDIER COULD DECIDE TO SHARE THAT, HEY, I WANT TO SHARE THIS ONLY WITH MY UNIT MEMBERS, NOT REALLY THE PUBLIC.

>>>> YEAH.

>>>> THEY CAN DO THAT? IT COULD BE CLOSED OFF IN CERTAIN WAYS?

>>>> YES, THEY CAN MAKE ONLY SPECIAL PEOPLE IN THE NETWORK SEE THAT CONTENT OR MAKE IT PUBLIC AND IT SHOWS UP ON THE FRONT SCREEN.

>>>> JUDGING WHAT I SAW SO FAR, THIS IS ALMOST A NEWS PORTAL. THIS IS ALMOST YOU'RE GETTING INFORMATION, YOU'RE GETTING EQUIPMENT INFORMATION AND PERSONNEL INFORMATION, ALL SORTS THINGS. IT'S ALMOST LIKE STARS AND STRIPES GOING ON HERE ON THE AIR.

>>>> IT'S ALMOST LIKE THERE'S NO LONGER A DELAY HEARING THE BATTLE AFTER THE BATTLE WAS FOUGHT BUT IT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW LIVE. YOU'RE GETTING THE FOOTAGE AS IT'S COMING IN AND AS THE CONFLICT IS OCCURRING.

>>>> HOW'D THIS IDEA GET STARTED?

>>>> STARTED SIX MONTHS AGO. WE STARTED SEEING A LOT OF VETERANS COMING BACK AND WE REALLY DIDN'T HEAR THEM FROM A CIVILIAN SIDE WHAT KIND OF CONFLICTS AND ISSUES THEY WENT THROUGH. KNOWING THAT 30% OF THE HOMELESS POPULATION IS FROM VETS AND EVERY EIGHTH VET COMMITS SUICIDE. CIVILIANS DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT I MET PETER A YEAR AGO. I STARTED TALKING TO HIM, HIS MARINE EXPERIENCE IN IRAQ. I STARTED TO REALIZE IF I JUST SEE HIM ON THE STREET, I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT KIND OF ISSUES HE GOES THROUGH. PERSONALLY I WAS RAISED IN A CHRISTIAN FAMILY IN LEBANON. I CAME HERE SIX YEARS AGO BECAUSE WE FLED THAT CONFLICT. SO I HAD A PERSONAL CONNECTION TO IT AND ALL OF OUR CO-FOUNDER REALLY HAVE CONFLICT STORIES WE WANT TO SHARE. WE STARTED TEAMING UP WITH OLDER VETS. SO FOR EXAMPLE THE FIRST WEEK OF FEBRUARY, THE LAST SOLDIER OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR PASSED AWAY. WE KIND OF LOST CONNECTION WITH THAT ERA AND YOUR GRANDKIDS AND YOUR KIDS WON'T BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT'S IT MEAN TO BE LIKE IN THAT WAR.

>>>> AND WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA MODELS WERE YOU LOOKING AT? WHAT WAS INSPIRING YOU? DID YOU LOOK AT SOMETHING OUT THERE AND GO, THAT'S WHAT WE NEED BUT ONLY IN A MORE MILITARY FASHION?

>>>> WE TOOK A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT APPROACH. WHAT WE DID IS ACTUALLY STARTED CONTACTING VETERANS AND USING THE BACKGROUND FROM MYSELF AS WELL AS OTHER VETERANS THAT HAVE WORKED WITH THE PROJECT AND KIND OF ASKED, YOU KNOW, IF YOU WERE ABLE TO TELL YOUR SIDE OF THE STORY AND WHAT YOU EXPERIENCED, WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU COMFORTABLE TELLING THAT STORY? HOW WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO DO IT AND STILL NOT FEEL LIKE YOU'RE EXPOSING TOO MUCH OF YOUR PERSONAL STORY?

>>>> I WAS GOING TO SAY, HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOU'RE NOT EXPOSING TOO MUCH OF MILITARY OPERATIONS? OF THINGS THAT THE MILITARY WOULD RATHER YOU NOT LET LOOSE OUT THERE AND IS NOT LET OTHER FOLKS AROUND THE WORLD KNOW?

>>>> ABSOLUTELY. THERE'S A HEAVY SECURITY ELEMENT TO IT JUST BECAUSE OF THAT NATURE BUT WHAT WE DO IS WE TRY TO ALLEVIATE THAT BY LETTING THEM POST UP CONTENT THAT'S NOT NECESSARILY TODAY AS OF THIS VERY MOMENT. THERE ARE ALSO SCREENING PROCESSES AS FAR AS HOW THEY'RE ALLOWED TO POST-UP THINGS AND WHAT TYPE OF INFORMATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION THEY CAN POST.

>>>> PETE, YOU'RE A MARINE, YOU'RE AN ASU STUDENT AND ASU WAS INVOLVED IN THIS SOMEHOW. EXPLAIN, PLEASE.

>>>> I'M PART OF THE PROGRAM AT SMU. I HAD MY OWN PRODUCTION, BLUE DREAM MEDIA COMPANY. WE JUST WON FOR 2012-2013. THAT GIVES US OFFICE SPACE IN THE FACILITY AND MENTORSHIP. I BELIEVE THE REASON WE'RE HERE TODAY AND COULD LAUNCH BETA SO FAST WITHIN SIX MONTHS IS BECAUSE OF ALL THE SUPPORT THE ASU VENTURE PROGRAM HAS PROVIDED IN TERMS MARKETING, MENTORSHIP AND CONNECTIONS TO NAME BRANDS LIKE MICROSOFT THAT'S INVOLVED AND WANTS TO SUPPORT IN PAUSE AND OTHER CONNECTIONS THAT PROPELS US FORWARD.

>>>> YOU GOT A SPOT AT SKY SONG FOR HOW LONG NOW?

>>>> HOW MUCH DOES THE INTERNET PRINTING AND OTHER THINGS COST? HOW DO YOU MAKE MONEY ON SOMETHING LIKE THIS?

>>>> UM, IT'S KIND OF A FLUID MODEL RIGHT NOW. WE'RE STILL WORKING ON IT AND TRYING TO ESTABLISH WHAT WE'RE DOING. ELI WOULD PROBABLY BE BEST TO.

>>>> WE LOOKED AT MANY MODELS, ONE IS A PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP. IF YOU WANT TO STORE MORE MEMORIES, THAT REQUIRES A PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP. REALLY OUR NETWORK COMBINES TOP FUNCTIONALITY FROM DIFFERENT NETWORKS. WE HAVE THE FACEBOOK FUNCTIONALITY AND YOU TUBE PLATFORM AND RECORDINGS OF HISTORY AND FAMILY TREE AND PINTEREST, THE ABILITY TO POST STORIES REALLY FAST. THAT'S COUPLED WITH THE JOBS PLATFORM AND A BIG SERGEANT MENTORSHIP PROGRAM THAT ALLOWS MILITARY MEMBERS WHO ARE LEFT TO MENTOR PEOPLE WHO JUST GOT OUT OF THE MILITARY IN ORDER TO EASE THE TRANSITION FROM MILITARY TO CIVILIAN LIFE.

>>>> SOUNDS LIKE QUITE THE OPERATION. GOOD LUCK TO BOTH OF YOU WITH THE VENTURE. SOUNDS VERY PROMISING. THANK YOU, BOTH.

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