I’ll be honest – when I first saw Mindie, I thought it was an interesting app that offered a fun twist on the Vine format, but not something that would go very far in the long term. However, the trio of Frenchmen behind it are going all out to prove me wrong.
Launched in October last year, Mindie for iOS allows you to create short, looping videos just like Vine. The twist is that your starting point is a short clip of any song from Apple’s iTunes store. The result is that you end up with your own social mini-pop video to share with others.
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Now the Mindie team (in the process of moving from France to San Francisco) tells us that it has raised a total of $1.2 million from the likes of SV Angel, Lower Case Ventures, David Tisch, Dave Morin’s Slow Ventures, Betaworks, Pete Cashmore, Michael Arrington, Troy Carter, Chris Howard, Cashmere Entertainment and Nick D’Aloisio.
The moment I realised that I might be wrong about Mindie being a flash in the pan was when it was demoed onstage at LeWeb Paris last month. The crowd loved it and videos made with the app popped up regularly in my Twitter stream for the following couple of weeks. Perhaps all it needs is that one big push beyond the fickle early adopter crowd to make it a hit with a mass audience?
Co-founder Stanislas Coppin describes Mindie as a “next generation video app,” and he aspires for it to be “MTV of the mobile era.” He sees Vine as more difficult to be creative with as there are more things to get right, especially if you’re talking in the app. The music, he says, helps you tell a story more easily with Mindie.
“We see the music as a filter, like Instagram,” Coppin notes. There’s a similarity there, for sure. Just as Instagram’s ‘Rise’ filter gives a photo a very different feel to ‘Nashville’, your Mindie video won’t have the same mood if you set it to ‘The Ace of Spades’ by Motorhead rather than ‘Happy’ by Pharrell.
Although Mindie is still small and relatively unknown, the startup’s move to the US is more fuel for the perception that France is hostile to entrepreneurs and innovation. When it comes to investment, this is a sadly familiar European tale. The team struggled to find investors in France who would put money in without seeing a solid business plan for making money from the app as soon as possible. Silicon Valley money, on the other hand, came quickly, with investors there preferring to allow Mindie to build an audience and find product-market fit first.
I’m still not sure if Mindie will have a lifespan in years rather than months but it’s certainly a fun app, and swiping through the user-generated mini-clips is an enjoyable way to discover music you’ve never heard before and witness your favorite songs presented in unconventional new ways. The challenge now is achieve the level of cultural impact that Instagram (and to a certain extent, Vine) has.