A new audio-focused social platform founded by Asian American entrepreneurs is hoping to attract more users with its promise of inclusivity and focus on culture and education.
FAM app, which recently launched on iOS and Android, is directly taking on Clubhouse — a similar product that made headlines after spikes in users earlier this year.
FAM co-founder Kevin Li says they saw how Clubhouse took off during the pandemic, thanks to high-profile personalities in the platform.
“FAM app was built intentionally to take on Clubhouse,” Li tells NextShark. “Initially, we thought it was a good product with a nice marketing hook, they built a lot of star power onboarding major names like Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, and all the major Silicon Valley players. And it gave people of a sense of importance, being invite-only and exclusive.”
However, Clubhouse remains exclusive to iOS. An update published on Sunday says that its Android version has been “readied for launch,” but the company has not announced an official date.
Prospective users must also be nominated by existing accounts. Otherwise, they must wait for Clubhouse’s approval before gaining access.
Li and his team sought to improve the conversation experience in FAM. The app, he says, is all about inclusivity.
“I thought about the way we converse in Taiwan, in Asia. It’s more about asking questions, and responding, less of the style of stacking opinions on top of one another, without feeling like there was an actual connection,” Li tells NextShark.
“The point of FAM is inclusivity, so we’re on both Android and iOS, anyone can join,” Li says. “And our focus is on culture and education.”
Such focus on education stems from the app’s early development in Taiwan, where there is a demand for learning the English language. The same ideal of cultural exchange was upheld when development moved to the U.S.
With anyone able to join immediately, FAM offers a space for everyday communal conversations. Li says one user likened FAM to their neighborhood.
“I’ve heard a user, Rich, say that FAM is like his neighborhood, and he can just drop in and pick up a conversation. I’m excited to see how far we can take this concept of being inclusive and serving everyday people,” Li tells NextShark.
Sources who have used both Clubhouse and FAM tell NextShark that the former grew to become a disappointment. This is because, by the time they got in, the platform was already dominated by users in certain fields.
“I personally found it very overwhelming. In the beginning, it was like, ‘Hey, drop in on famous conversations and stuff,’” one shares. “But by the time we got in in January, because we’re ‘commoners,’ it sounds like just a bunch of crypto dudes, marketing guys and influencers trying to jostle for a place on the platform. It quickly became apparent to influencers — especially from communities of color — who were invited on the second wave that there was really no breathable room for their opinions anymore.”
Aside from inclusivity, FAM takes inspiration from Houseparty, an app for group video chats.
In a “Vibe” — FAM’s version of Clubhouse’s “Room” — users can change their voice and upload graphics, allowing a more personalized experience.
As of this writing, FAM users can explore “Interests” in education, life, relationships, entertainment, sports, tech, art and other topics, such news, politics and business. In essence, the app seeks to provide a space for discussion of cultural intricacies in these interests, welcoming a diversity of opinions from users all over the world.
Upcoming programmings include: (1) “Fighting Arts + Healing Arts” by Jamie Yancovitz, an Ilongga-American instructor of the Filipino martial art Pekiti-Tirsia Kali (April 22, 7 p.m. PST); (2) “The Art of Content Creation” by Juan Carillo, editor-in-chief of Kicks On Fire (April 22, 5 p.m. PST); and (3) “Zaddy Day Care: Fatherhood and Creative Career” by writer, filmmaker and actor Anthony Ma (April 22, 7-9 p.m. PST).
Feature Images via FAM