When the idea for BaladaCam hit him in 2006, founder Renato Vieira assumed his primary audience would be Brazilian party-goers looking to check out the scene at their favorite local hotspots before making the trip out for the evening. Six years later, with a change of language and target, the internet startup has taken a quite different direction.
BaladaCam is a Brazil-based website that streams real-time images and video from various clubs, bars, restaurants and resorts around the world. Its live video and audio streams allows users to browse through their possible destinations to get a feel of atmosphere, crowd and even music style. It currently features 584 active establishments located in 41 countries, according to its founder.
BaladaCam works with venues with pre-existing cameras or those needing to install cameras, in which case they can register to have a camera sent by mail. Venues sign up directly for BaladaCam’s free streaming service or register for more elaborate plans, and then simply connect the device and provide the platform with a code. BaladaCam then synchronizes the camera’s signal with the server to put it online.
We at PulsoSocial got in touch with founder Vieira find out a bit more about this “Big Brother” of nightlife.
Though the system is up and running and the technological know-how is present, when speaking with Vieira, it became clear that the business’ path has been one of surprises and will likely continue to evolve. “At first, BaladaCam was geared towards nightlife goers, but the user profile has shown to be quite varied. Each camera has space next to it where users comment and evaluate the establishment, and through these interactions it was possible to see that user were not only ‘baladeiros’ (Brazilian Portuguese word for hardcore partygoers), but actually regular people searching for new technologies and social media and networks,” Vieira related.
With this discovery, BaladaCam has made a number of adjustments – namely, the decision to translate the site’s Portuguese content into English. Since the site’s English-language launch in October 2011, it has taken off, now reporting traffic from 93 countries and a backlog of 500 venues waiting to be set up. This linguistic shift also led the platform to change priorities in terms of targets, now aiming to tackle markets in Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.
Though Vieira didn’t rule out Brazil as a point of expansion for BaladaCam, he did recognize the challenges it poses: “The idea in the beginning was just for Brazilian nightclubs, but the market here is quite complicated. There is currently an ‘illusory’ euphoria about Brazil, because we in Brazil are still crawling in terms of technology and internet.”
Vieira told us that he hopes to attract venues with the promise of leveraged social media, improved online reputation and increased website traffic. He said, “With the introduction of BaladaCam, the establishment will take the best advantage of its camera system, not only for security but also for large-scale online publicity with a single purpose, to increase its customer traffic.”
BaladaCam’s business model is still in the process of being fleshed out as its new international audience has been cause for a bit of rethinking. For the moment, revenue will largely be gained from the paid plans for venues, which are now only available in Brazil but will soon be offered to bars and restaurants all over the world. The site also has advertising space reserved that will be sold later down the line.
Beyond its intended value proposition of attracting customers to venues and hotspots, BaladaCam has taken on another life in catching the attention of users of a more voyeuristic nature, who are using the site itself for fun and entertainment. Vieira explained, “Regular users watching a music band playing in a venue, getting to know other cultures and behaviors. A digital environment where people meet, watch broadcasts, chat in comment areas… It is, after all, a large live social network produced by commercial establishments … but for regular users.”
In the months to come, BaladaCam will continue to find its niche and fill out. Vieira signaled live bars, augmented reality and mobility in the website’s near future.
In closing, Vieira made special mention of the possibilities in Brazil and all of Latin America, for which he still has high hopes. In a region with populations known for a great passion for life, Latin America should serve as an ideal audience for the fun-focused BaladaCam.