Over the course of six months, Ryan Trihernawan spent more than 1,000 hours sitting in front of his computer, his eyes straining, his fingers aching from typing ceaseless lines of code. He said he hoped that one day, the letters and numbers would perfectly align to form the project that he had envisioned.
The result: ShuutMe, a video-sharing application with a twist.
When the app was first released at the beginning of the year, Trihernawan, a third-year computer science student, only made it available to friends and family in order to test it and iron out any faults. Last week, ShuutMe was released globally and can now be purchased from the App Store on iPhone or Android. So far, the app has more than 100 users, but Trihernawan hopes that it will ultimately grow into a search engine through which to find videos with the limited views system.
From the beginning, Trihernawan said he wanted to bring something novel, something that couldn’t be found elsewhere in the App Store. Instead of displaying an increasing view counter like on YouTube, ShuutMe employs one which does the opposite.
ShuutMe allows the user to take a video of up to 21 seconds with the built-in video recorder and post it for all other users to see. At first, the video can only gain 10 views before it disappears. Then, the creator has the choice of whether to re-release the video, this time with a view counter descending from 100, or whether to delete it. Every time the video is re-released, the number of views needed to make it vanish is multiplied by 10.
“The idea behind it is that by limiting the number of people that view the video, you make the video more exclusive,” Trihernawan said. “You engineer a scarcity so that you give people more incentive to watch your videos.”
The initial inspiration for ShuutMe came from the movie industry, Trihernawan said.
“Most movies, when they come out, only appear in select theaters which gives their fans a greater incentive to watch the movie first,” Trihernawan said. “I applied the same principle to my application. Each video on ShuutMe will have a chance to be popular and people will have to fight to be the first 10 people to view it.”
For the app’s programming, Trihernawan said he consulted Paul Eggert, a lecturer from the computer science department.
“I advised him on what options to take,” Eggert said. “I was impressed that Ryan was interested enough to do something like this on his own.”
However, the concept for ShuutMe’s aesthetics came from Trihernawan’s mother, who suggested a design that both stood out from the crowd and targeted a different market than that of other video-sharing competitors.
“The ‘me’ part of ShuutMe is important because with YouTube, they emphasize the viewers which is ‘you’, whereas my app emphasizes creators,” Trihernawan said. “So on the home page, I chose to have scattered camera icons, an idea which came from my mom.”
So far, Trihernawan said he has received positive feedback about the app’s looks and usability. Justine Bateman, a third-year computer science and digital media management student and a friend of Trihernawan’s, said the app had left her with a great first impression.
“I like his exclusivity end goal, especially at a time when everybody is so hungry for views and followers,” Bateman said. “It also appeals to people’s sense of game playing, because you want to get in there see it before all the views are used up.”
For Trihernawan, another goal was to avoid incorporating a comments system, which he said is a point of controversy currently surrounding video-sharing applications. He said he achieved this by excluding it altogether.
“I’m not a fan of the comment and like system,” Trihernawan said. “On YouTube, people say bad things about other people and mock them.”
Instead, Trihernawan said he hopes the speed at which each video reaches the allocated number of views will give the users enough feedback as to whether their creation has been well received.
In addition, through ShuutMe, Trihernawan aims to foster a burgeoning culture of start-ups at UCLA. Despite the existence of organizations such as Startup UCLA, Trihernawan said he thought that more could be done.
“Most people here just make apps and websites for fun. They don’t try to promote them to other people and make a start-up out of it,” Trihernawan said. “We need to have more people trying to create start-ups at UCLA if we are going to compete with other schools like Stanford and Berkeley.”
Although Trihernawan said he does have these goals in mind, he insists that for him, ShuutMe is about proving to himself that he can make the application that he set out to create.
“You make apps not for a competition or for money, but for yourself, on your own,” Trihernawan said. “I wanted my app to be as simple as taking a video of anything you see and sharing it.”