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Sharing Everyday Moments

SJMC alum launches a new video app.
March 20, 2017

As Vadim Lavrusik celebrated his youngest son’s first birthday, he wondered: how should he share the moment with his close friends and family who couldn’t make the party? He decided the simplest option was to record and share a video through SMS messaging. However, the result turned out to be unsatisfying. Even his sister complained the video quality was poor. 

Although it may have been a disappointing experience, that quick experiment sparked an idea to create a platform with private live streaming and high quality video sharing. “We wanted to solve the problem people have with sending videos over SMS as well as add the value of bringing people into the moment as it’s happening,” Lavrusik said. 

A 2009 graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Lavrusik, along with colleagues Ray Lee and Vincent Tuscano, cofounded Alively, a new app that allows users to live stream to a select number of contacts and share videos from their everyday activities. It was launched into beta last August.

Unlike other video streaming services, the purpose of Alively is not to “put on a show” or rack up likes and hearts; Lavrusik strives to allow people an intimate way to share everyday moments with close family and friends. Each video can be tailored to specific viewers, and afterwards all the footage is stored on the app’s servers instead of the user's phone. While the technology may seem advanced, Lavrusik wants users to see it as something that’s as user-friendly as a video camera. 

“Just like Instagram is your photo album, we want this to be your camcorder,“ he said. 

In the first couple months of the app’s launch, Lavrusik experienced many of the special moments he was hoping would be captured with his app, including when friends used Alively to share their baby announcement. 

“They didn’t want to make it public yet, but they wanted to share it with their closest friends,” said Lavrusik. “I felt like I was there with them even though they were far away.” 

Lavrusik is no stranger to video streaming products. He was formerly the product manager of Facebook Live and worked at the company for five years. He was instrumental in creating the Facebook Live feature and pushed to have it released to the general public. 

“It gives everyday people the ability to go live and share instantaneous video,” he said. “I thought it would democratize television.” 

Although Lavrusik enjoyed his time at Facebook and learned a lot from his experiences, he knew there was still more he wanted to pursue and left the company in March to focus on Alively. “I always wanted to eventually start my own thing,” he said. 

So far, the app has received a good reception. Initially launched in the United States, Alively was released to the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada in late September. 

“It’s been good, the concept resonates with [users],” Lavrusik said. “It’s just a matter of how you get this product in the hands of people and make sure they have a good experience so they want to use it every day.” 

Lavrusik is especially proud of how many users are actively participating and not just watching the videos. 

“[On other apps], you have a ton of people watching, but very few people creating,” he said. “With Periscope, only 1 to 2 percent of people actually broadcast. Ours is around 35 to 40 percent.” 

Moving forward, Lavrusik hopes Alively fills the void of private video sharing and becomes a major part of the social media landscape. Even if the app doesn’t become the next Snapchat or Facebook, however, Lavrusik still believes Alively will be a worthwhile experience. 

“Even if it’s not a huge success, I’ll still learn a lot,” he said.