Russell Wilson unveiled his new start up called TraceMe. TraceMe is an app that aims to connect super-fans with celebrities, offering daily behind the scenes content from your favourite athlete, artist, actor or other influential person. The idea is to bridge the gap between celebrities and their most passionate followers with a mobile platform. This will definitely need to differentiate itself from other social media services, but this one offers more control over content distribution and customer data.
The inspiration for the app came after one of his weekly visits to the Seattle Children’s Hospital where Wilson and his wife, Ciara, meet with kids. These kids often ask about last week’s Seahawks game or the couples most recent appearance on the red carpet. And most of these kids have smartphones. Wilson has said that he just wants to take these kids with him on his journey. So they can see what it’s like and experience the ups and downs. But it’s also something that anyone can relate to. And that’s when it clicked for him.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, YouTube founder Chad Hurley, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai, Dick Clark Producdtions President Mike Mahan, and Wheels Up founder Kenny Dichter all have invested in TraceMe. Examples of content available on the TraceMe beta app for iOS include instructional videos with Wilson’s personal trainer, sit-down interviews with Wilson and legendary superstars, and Wilson’s weekly podcasts that shares insights into football, family, faith and relationships.
Wilson and TraceMe CEO Jason LeeKeenan wanted to create a “direct to consumer” platform that allows for more brand control and customization. Without restrictions like character length or specific type of content. Which is all fine and well, but will people use this kind of platform over others like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter? Wilson has almost 10 million social media followers on those apps, and says that it’s about a two way dialogue. Celebrities can share content with their most passionate fans, but the celebrities can also learn more about the fans themselves. Wilson views TraceMe as something different that goes deeper and caters to users who view celebrities as heroes.
As of right now the app is free at launch. And currently only content from Wilson will be available. But there has been interest from other celebrities who want to give TraceMe a try. And there are some competing platforms out there. The Players Tribune, which was founded by baseball legend Derek Jeter. As well as Uninterrupted, which was founded by basketball superstar LeBron James. Both of these apps have raised venture funding.
At first glance, I really like this idea. It seems altruistic in a way. But I do worry about people having to pay for the content. I think of the sick children, lying in their hospital beds, wanting to connect with Wilson, and being told they have to pay $3.99. But I can also see the upside of it as well. Maybe it would encourage kids to push themselves farther than they think they can go. There is likely a lot to learn from celebrities who have achieved what they have. Especially athletes. The time and effort that goes into becoming top in your field is incredible. That alone is a lesson that many of us can learn from. Good job on this Russell. I look forward to seeing what other celebrities come on board to share their stories.