Raven Gao didn’t create the MEW virtual social platform to ride the wave of the Metaverse. He started working on MEW with a Tencent veteran in mid-2019 because he wanted to create a virtual haven for socially awkward introverts like himself.
The MEW interface can be confusing at first glance. According to Gao, the app’s jargon and aesthetic have a certain appeal to fans of the anime, comics, and gaming (ACG) subcultures. Cute anime-style graphics and creamy colors decorate the app, while the control buttons use words more familiar to ACG fans. Instead of “sign up” MEW calls it “create your travel file”. Users communicate through interest-based hubs called “Citadels” and controlled by other users, similar to Discord. Even the name of the MEW app, which is short for “Members of the Exalted World”, exudes camaraderie for fantasy lovers.
The first iteration of Mew launched in mid-2020 and has remained limited to this day. Several tens of thousands of users are active daily, although they spend a lot of time – 100 minutes on average – in interest centers that focus on the usual suspects like games, movies, anime, as well as more universal topics like personality. – . Reform and football.
The Silicon Valley Makers Fund believed Gao in early 2020, when most Chinese investors thought the founders were “crazy” and tried to create a new social network at a time dominated by industry giants like Ten Percent. In 2021, with the “metaverse” taking off in both the US and China, Troph, MEW’s parent company, suddenly became desirable to investors at home.
Late last year, Troff received increased funding from Chinese companies 5Y Capital and Xu Capital, bringing the total capital to around $10 million. The company has not previously disclosed the funding amount.
In the modern world, there is no shortage of startups claiming to create virtual worlds and metaverses. But some of these products are “just an avatar-based social platform that mimics the real world,” while others are just “a social game,” Gao claims.
MEW, on the other hand, wants people to exercise their “changing egos” online with complete honesty and comfort.
Gao believes he has the right partner to realize this vision. His co-founder Qiang Li spent five years at Tencent’s QQ, China’s most popular social network in the PC era, where he led the interface design team to build the iPad version of Messenger. Even today, with its many simplistic features, QQ remains largely popular among Chinese youth.
MEW has not yet begun monetization, but the GAO hopes to create new forms of monetization beyond the traditional types of social networks such as advertising, subscriptions, and donations by engaging its users and sharing potential revenue with them. ,
“We want to explore a model where users who contribute to our product can share rewards,” says Gao.
Blockchain naturally comes to mind as a potential incentive mechanism. But Gao said that the company will not offer coins or implement blockchain anytime soon.
This year, Trough plans to enter the US market and capture the same demographic of game and anime fans as it has in China. The company currently has about 30 employees in China and is actively working with employees in the United States.