Meet Greg Pulier, learn about CeenIt and how to create and produce an app.
Greg Pulier exemplifies the main theme of BraverGuide, living courageously. He’s always lived life on his terms. We have been friends for a few decades and he’s one of those guys that is always creating. He’s the kind of guy that when you speak with him you’ll leave a conversation smarter than when you started talking.
Greg has been a software entrepreneur for over 20 years working on everything from robotics and corporate video to consumer apps, blockchain and more. His latest project called CeenIt enables groups of people to collaboratively connect and create using mobile video.
Hi Greg, It’s nice to reconnect with you. This site aims to inspire people to live courageously and you have an inspiring story! I truly appreciate your time! Here we go…
Tell us your story. What are you doing professionally and how did you land where you are?
I was studying brain sciences with an interest in research or academia but became more interested in the entrepreneurial journey. I ended up moving to Los Angeles and starting companies. The excitement, enthusiasm, community and innovation that arises in the building of a company continues to inspire and motivate me.
What are you working on now?
A very simple idea that seemed perfect for this period of social distancing. It’s an iOS and Android App called CeenIt. Essentially, someone records a short video and then picks who’s next. That next person receives a message to watch the video so far and to add to the video. This results in a new type of social connection that is useful for a wide variety of applications beyond just being really fun.
CeenIt… sounds amazing! How do you see it bringing people together?
We have already experienced some amazing results with groups of friends commiting to accomplishing goals that require daily practice (i.e. Exercise or playing music). We are also focusing on some of the really obvious uses like group birthday, birth and wedding messages. I also believe that CeenIt might be a very useful tool for teachers to encourage students to excel knowing that their peers will be seeing and sharing their own work and progress.
What an incredibly creative, collaborative and social tool. Please share a few examples of how the app could work professionally – for example within education. Cooking? Will there be communities within the app?
For the first phase of CeenIt, we want to keep the experience as simple as possible so the communities that form will be based on users current social networks. Eventually, the platform itself will help connect like minded people to facilitate communities working together.
Some of the professional uses of CeenIt include regular employee updates that are often inefficiently accomplished with live Zoom meetings. People who can’t make the meetings often miss out on all the updates. People get distracted and discuss other topics or go on too long for anyone to really understand where the person is at in their tasks. CeenIt forces everyone to be clear, concise (with time-limits) and hopefully creative in how they communicate.
Within a field like education, I believe the social dynamics between students are an incredibly important component of the learning process due to the desire to impress our peers, the tendency to emulate and learn from our peers and the deep human need to be a part
of a community.
These aspects of learning are all but lost in a Zoom class in which teachers lecture and students often black out their video. CeenIt becomes an opportunity to create and express your own personality through the subject matter being taught. For example, the teacher of a foreign language class could create new Ceens everyday instructing the students to each add video of themselves saying what the highlight of their summer was, or explaining what certain objects are called, or dramatically expressing their favorite movie, etc… Students can get as creative as they desire with costumes, environments, props, etc… These Ceens will inevitably be fun for the students to watch in order to see and connect deeper with their peers.
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Naturally users will collectively mold CeenIt to something you may not be considering, however what would you like the app to have accomplished in a few years?
The concept of CeenIt seemed so obvious that I was surprised to see no existing platforms offering this ability. So the real goal is to build a really great tool and see how the world might like to use it. I know that doesn’t quite answer the question but it really is about creating great software and listening to our users for how things should evolve.
Making the app is one thing but promoting it and creating a buzz is a whole other challenge. How will you promote it? Can we expect a few influencers to promote it? Do you have other ideas on how to ‘get it out there?
’The focus in the early stages is group messages for life events since this is so universal and we have proven how fun it can be for this purpose. From there we hope to encourage and promote other creative uses from theatrical to improv comedy to music. Getting things moving may require some influencer participation but we are unique in that it’s not about individuals, it’s about groups of people. This is why we believe that most social media is not really social. An influencer tends to engage in one way relationships with their audience. CeenIt is more focused on people interacting and actually being social. That beings said, once a great Ceen is created, promoting them to large audiences will probably happen through platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, etc…
How will you monetize the app?
We won’t for a long time until the concept is well proven and successful. Then it will probably include a mixture of in-app purchasing options to use advanced features, advertising and possibly even sponsored Ceens that promote brands using the general public to create the content.
What advice would you share for anyone with a great idea for an app but don’t know where to start. What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
An app idea is often like a movie idea: easy to come up with but very challenging to implement. Launching a decent app requires highly skilled engineers, artists, UI designers and managers. And even then it will take a few versions and user feedback until the concept is going to really be smooth and realized. So only pursue an app project that you are very excited about and ready to dedicate lots of time and energy towards. People who hire dev shops for an app idea usually end up with an app they don’t love and no ability to promote and fulfill their goals. I personally work with trusted, proven colleagues to maximize the chances of success. It can take years to find and connect with such people. Before someone has developed these types of connections, they may have to take bigger risks working with freelancers or dev shops.
Creating and producing an app seems like fun and wonderfully creative. I suspect it’s not always that way. Please share the good and bad or most challenging and most rewarding aspects.
No matter how simple an idea you are working on, things can get complex very quickly if you are not disciplined. Proving the core idea of an App before adding in all the exciting features you wish it had is very important. I have worked on projects that included too much feature creep, resulting in products that were too difficult for new users to use. The concept of a “minimally viable product” is an important one.
These are crazy times and I know you balance being a father and running a company. You’ve always seemed grounded to me, is it an illusion or do you have a recipe to stay so even keeled and motivated? How do you balance the pressures of work life and relaxation?
Thanks Ron! I do everything I can to suppress the desires to be lazy. When I don’t win that battle, my home becomes messy and disorganized, I have less energy, I don’t eat as healthy, and the most meaningful things don’t seem so interesting anymore. When I exercise, eat well, keep my environment clean and organized, and don’t procrastinate, life becomes way more fun and exciting. I recently committed to a few weeks of daily exercise with a few friends and we used CeenIt to share what we did each day. Finding approaches that put me in situations where I’m going to be motivated is a big part of my strategy. As the most interesting man in the world used to say (before his commercial got canceled): Stay thirsty my friends.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
To embrace each chapter of life with joy, passion and creativity. Each decade of my life has been better than the last so if I can keep this up I couldn’t ask for anything more.
A few simple questions for fun!
What’s your favorite meal?
Avocado with lemon 🙂
When the pandemic is over or when we have a vaccine where do you want to travel first and why?
Probably Europe because that is where I was planning on going when Quarantine hit!
What’s your favorite place you’ve visited?
Yosemite. The hikes past the waterfalls and the views and the rivers are my happy place.
If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
I love being on the beach in Los Angeles so I think I’m there. We have a lot of challenges here but I still love being here.
What else would you like to share about CeenIt and/or you?
Android is coming soon but iPhone users can make a Ceen right now by downloading the App from the Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/id1518062818
Such an inspiring read Ron ..and love your series on personal growth. I am myself inspired by other peoples success and seeing them grow. Look forward to seeing more content !
Thanks Dane, I really do appreciate it. Your site is fascinating as well! Let’s stay in touch!