Ranking well on search engines in competitive industries can be a real challenge and significant investment of budget— imagine if you could hit the reset switch on things. Tris might just have the answer. I got the opportunity to interview Leo Jeremias, founder and CEO of Tris, regarding their platform and ‘IKO’; Initial Keyword Offering!
Hammy Havoc: Hi! Awesome to be talking with you today!
Leo Jeremias: Thanks for your interest in what we feel is the revolution in social, search, and communication on the Internet.
HH: Jumping straight into things, what does Tris offer?
LJ: Tris started out as an idea of how to make search social. So, let’s say I am searching for a keyword, how can I connect with others searching for the same keyword and discuss it? How can I get notified in real-time when someone searches for a keyword I am following? So, we created the extension that embeds directly into Google and provided this info on the top right, directly in Google, almost like a live feed directly in Google. It tells me who searched a keyword, what they said about it, and even allows me to talk directly to that person. Once we implemented that, we said, ‘Why don’t we take this a step further?’ What if the entire Internet is social? Imagine that I am browsing a product, and someone can show me a link to the same product for cheaper? Or imagine that I am reading an article, but there is a more recent, more relevant article. The ideas and case studies are endless, because the need is there and the problem exists, but like every great idea, people need to know about it to take advantage of it.
HH: How can people use Tris today?
LJ: The first thing we did was to make sure that we didn’t reinvent the wheel or change any users’ habits. We don’t want people to have to change their browser or change what they are used to. That’s why the extension is so powerful, because it embeds within Google, within your browser, and allows for all these solutions without the user noticing anything is different at all. The only limitation of the desktop, was that users would post in the room, but if there wasn’t anyone there at that moment, they would not get a response, so the conversation would not be able to continue. Now, since we are anonymous, and we push the anonymity, most of our users change their username based on the topic of conversation, so we can’t email them if there is a response. This is where the mobile browser and app came in and this is where the real revolution in social can happen, because even if you are anonymous, you can still get a notification if someone responds. The conversation and connections become permanent without sacrificing your anonymity. The other amazing thing about the phone, is the sharing of pictures and videos. Most people have their pictures and videos in their phone, now it becomes instant any room they are in its easy to share. Additionally, on the phone you can share information via voice notes. The younger generation didn’t grow up on typing, and everything is about live streaming, voice notes and effective communication. This is only possible with the phone and the app.
HH: Taking on the world of search engines is ambitious. You’re up against heavyweights that have been established for decades at this point, but I think you’re already getting there.
LJ: We have developed software that has been used to search over a billion times already. This isn’t our first search product, but it is our biggest, most amazing, and most disruptive to date. This has the potential to change how users communicate and search on the Internet.
Being chosen as an Editor’s Pick in the Chrome Web Store was nice, but extensions are not that mainstream. It’s a community within the tech world, it’s not something most people even know about. The browser and the app are mainstream and powerful. All it takes is one community to find a solution, or one article, or one news story for it to catch fire. We have so many ideas we are working on that can help this along. For instance, we allow people to control the room associated with their own name. So, anyone can search any name and start a conversation. We allow users to take control of that room, and once claimed, they gain moderation permissions so they can then delete offensive messages they may receive. Then they can use that room for their own personal resume or blog, or update links to their Livestream, or Twitch account, or use it as a business card.
HH: There’s a lot more applications where this could be very relevant outside of the average consumer demographic.
LJ: We also want this to be used to further research and development and science. So many sites are outdated and articles stale, if users researching or searching the same keywords can connect from around the world in real-time, imagine the collaboration and advancement this could create. Students around the world can collaborate on research projects or help each other with their homework. The opportunities are endless, because once you post in a room, you are opening yourself up to direct messages. So once someone sees your post, they can message you directly and say, ‘I am also interested in this’ or ‘I have a question’.
HH: I was seeing some impressive user statistics last night, with over 116,000 people online simultaneously.
LJ: We had over 100,000 downloads of the extension. We have some users of our old software ported over, but Tris is still in its infancy, we are still in development. We have not focused on marketing or getting the word out there. All the users we have are simply from word of mouth, or from being chosen as an Editor’s Pick. We are in the ‘raising money’ stage and we are raising money to get to the next level. We wouldn’t be able to support the growth right now, hence the IKO.
HH: You’re currently running an ‘IKO’, an Initial Keyword Offering. I think that’s ingenious. Can you explain the ins and outs of what an IKO is?
LJ: An IKO stands for ‘Initial Keyword Offering’. We are allowing users to buy keywords on our platform and own the number one ad spot on our browser for life with a one-time payment and offer. Everyone knows what AdWords and CPC marketing is, and everyone knows how important search marketing is. In fact, it is the most profitable and highest converting online marketing there is. We are allowing people to not just invest in the future, invest in our idea, and be part of Tris. They also are buying real estate in our browser. That can even lead to passive income in the future as Tris becomes more mainstream. We will allow them to sell cost per click traffic to others, or resell their keywords to others, or use it for their own businesses. We eventually want to add an ad blocker in our browser as well, so we figured why not send the traffic to our partners, to the people that invested in us, while we were growing and the ones that had the foresight to see the power of what we were doing.
HH: How have the earlier adopters been feeling about Tris?
The feedback has been amazing. We are selling only enough keywords to hit our goal, then we will focus on user acquisition. However, the more users we have, the more searches that get done on our platform, and the more overall search volume, the more expensive and valuable these keywords will become. It’s like buying domains when the Internet was in infancy. People made millions because of all the traffic, the branding power, and the SEO value it had. This is even better than having domains. Domains were important to SEO for ranking better; domains and SEO strategies are where a large slice of marketing budget has gone for years, but we’re actually selling the number one spot directly to customers today, with no waiting or strategizing. You can own it right now.
HH: I just bought the term ‘marketing agency’ from the Tris IKO for my integrated marketing agency, Split An Atom. Can you explain to our readers the benefit of investing in your Initial Keyword Offering?
LJ: We have a goal to sell enough keywords to raise enough money to get to the next level, it’s a very modest goal. Our goal is and always will be to get users and get more downloads. The IKO is just proof that people see the value in us. We are working on an idea to have an ICO and to have coins that users can use to buy keywords, and users can get coins by posting and sending the app to others. One of the most interesting parts of Tris is our micro tipping platform. It has been our idea for years to turn the entire Internet into a Patreon. People should be able to be rewarded for their reviews and their content. The idea of ‘tipping’ is what will generate the most interest as users should be able to be awarded for their content, even their old content. How many times have your read a Wikipedia article and thought, ‘That information is gold. I would love to tip that writer’? With Tris app you can. Every Yelp review, every TripAdvisor review, every Wikipedia article becomes a tippable event.
HH: Is the monetization of keywords the core aspect of your business model?
LJ: We have not really approached investors as we have been self-funded. The fundamental VC system is broken. Ideas that will never see the light of day get funded. Ideas that are stupid but are run by tech insiders get funded, and some of the best ideas out there get passed on repeatedly. Especially an idea that’s big; investors get scared or are counter-intuitive and seem to only want to invest in things they can’t understand. We have been very put off by the amount of ideas that get funded without a product, or simple vaporware, and the good ideas that genuinely have potential get passed on, over and over again. So, we decided to go directly to the users. We would rather have a thousand investors who are brand ambassadors that love our product, than one company that cares little about what we do but only wants us, so they can flip us at the next round.
HH: Who is behind Tris? Any names or faces that the public might be familiar with?
LJ: Half of our team is in America, and the other half is in Europe and Israel. We also have a team in Australia. We all have extensive experience in search and development, and we have all started and developed very successful companies. None of us get a salary right now, and we have all invested our own time, energy, and money into this. Between us, we have developed search products that have generated over a billion searches. We have been involved in video ads and have been in charge of over 5,000 blogs and news sites, generating over half a billion video ads a month.
HH: Adding a social layer to every website and web page makes a lot of sense, more so than the likes of centralized social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Going to a website to discuss something makes no sense, versus discussing it on the page you’re already on.
LJ: That’s correct, and with the ability to be anonymous, it changes the whole idea of social. Many have been burned by posting something somewhere on the Internet and their names and reputations are forever tarnished without realizing it. Allowing users to change their username based on where they are on the web gives people the freedom to post and finally delivers “free speech”.
HH: It’s somewhat of a Wild West on the internet right now in regard to being a creator and monetizing your content. There’s no one way of doing it, and as such, there’s nothing that’s yet caught on particularly. Tris is offering a tipping system; can you tell us some more about that?
LJ: As I mentioned earlier, monetizing content and crowdsourcing information is the future. Users are tired of being taken advantage of, as their content makes other sites rich. Even sites like Reddit have the audacity to allow tipping, but then they keep the tips to themselves. It’s almost incredulous what they have done. Part of the revolution in social, Tris, will be allowing members to reward each other for help and to reward good content.
HH: Tris isn’t just aimed at content creators though. You’re also heavily aiming Tris at businesses, which I think is ultimately what’s going to drive a lot of interest to the Initial Keyword Offering. Can you discuss what you’re offering to businesses?
LJ: Many businesses would love to chat directly to users while they are browsing the site. With the ‘claim name’ feature, businesses will not just be available to answer questions directly from users in real-time as they browse their site, they will also get their messages highlighted in a different color and, most importantly, they get the ability to make announcements and pinned messages. So, if they want to promote a 10% discount, they can pin a message with a coupon code and remove it as they please. If they want to announce longer hours, they can do that in the room. It gives businesses the ability to deal with conflict as well. So, let’s say we allow tipping for a Yelp review. The Yelp reviewer must connect their TRIS account. Now the business owner can reach out directly to that reviewer to resolve any complaints, offer him or her a free meal, et cetera, and try to resolve the issue. Yelp does not gain anything from that. Yelp makes more money, the more negativity and conflict they can generate, and then they charge businesses to hide the reviews. With Tris, businesses can resolve issues directly with users without anyone losing their anonymity.
HH: Do you think Tris will eventually compete with top search engines like Google or even alternatives like DuckDuckGo? Or is the idea more providing an alternative?
LJ: We are not looking to compete, we are looking to enhance. We already enhance Google with our widget and we are looking to give the average user the same power as Google. If Google can change an algorithm to show one URL or one result more than another, then users can do that as well, by simply posting in the room.
HH: Why will people choose Tris over other search engines?
LJ: Because users love chatting and communicating. Platforms such Disqus or Spot.IM who simply provide this plugin for news sites handle billions of messages per month. Imagine if we created that for the entire Internet.
HH: Any statistics on speed, relevancy of results, et cetera, compared to other engines?
LJ: Our browser is built on Chromium, so the browser itself is as fast, if not faster, than other browsers, and we have removed anything that can slow down or anything unnecessary in Chromium itself. The chat portion is a layer than gets added on top of that, but it does not affect the speed of the browser. Our extension and search widget loads directly in Google and it loads as fast as the search results.
HH: Can you discuss your stance on privacy?
LJ: We care a lot about privacy. That’s why we do not ask for signups or any information. In fact, as soon as you download the app, we randomly give you a username and you are 100% anonymous. If you do sign up for an account on our extension and want to be communicated with about certain subjects, we still have a privacy button that’s right in front of you that you can simply click, and your searches are completely anonymous. You can hide the widget and chat, but still use Tris. Our first concern is privacy. That’s why Tris has anonymity built in, so we can finally have real free speech.
HH: What are the next steps for Tris after the Initial Keyword Offering? What’s on the roadmap that you’re excited about?
LJ: We are working on some truly exciting and revolutionary ideas, including some that are already built into Tris desktop like ‘Near Me’, which gives you the ability to chat with people in your immediate vicinity, like while you are waiting in an airport. ‘Honest Chat’ allows you to chat and see what the other person is typing in real-time as they’re typing, so you never have to click send. These things are already implemented and live on Tris, but we do not promote it or highlight it as we want to focus as much as possible on search and on the real disruptive power of what we do, and don’t want to distract from our current focus with the Initial Keyword Offering. We also are building AI into our browser to make it a smart browser that will recommend similar sites. It all comes to down to ‘search and chat’ and ‘browse and chat’. Once users know about us, the sky is the limit.
HH: It’s been great talking to you today, Leo. Thanks for your time!
LJ: Thanks to you too, Hammy. It’s been a pleasure.
If you’re interested in becoming a part of the next big thing for search and social, you can buy a keyword now! They even accept Bitcoin and Ethereum, and if you refer your friends, then you can earn a 20% commission from any keywords they purchase. You can also download the Tris beta for Android, or the browser extension for Firefox, Chrome and Opera, though, interestingly, any Chromium based browser is supported by Tris. The iOS app is due for release on March 5th.