Countess Louise Wachtmeister is a Swedish entrepreneur, athlete and political activist, as well as the co-founder of new social network Best of All Worlds, which she recently launched with her husband, Count Erik Wachtmeister.
In this interview, Louise shares the vision, purpose and value behind Best of All Worlds, as well as her thoughts on social media, Facebook, entrepreneurship, branding, and a new generation of Swedish pop culture.
"Our goal is to create an environment that provides trusted, non-biased information. It's not the wisdom of the crowds - it's about the wisdom of the trusted few."
Social Nerdia: What is the vision for Best of All Worlds and what kind of problems are you looking to solve?
Louise Wachtmeister: The vision of Best of All Worlds is to solve the need of getting relevant and meaningful information and interaction online. We want to give people the opportunity to focus on the present and future as opposed to the past - as is the prevalent in social media today. Would you rather focus on other people's past or your own tomorrow? Our vision is also to limit the noise and to create a trusted environment that our members can leverage.
Social Nerdia: What is the purpose of elite social networks? How do you respond to critics who argue it’s pure snobbery?
Louise Wachtmeister: The purpose is not to create an elite social Network. It may become the effect rather than the cause though :)
The goal is to create an intimate and trusted environment as opposed to the chaos and overflow of biased info that prevails online today. We are creating special niche communities within Best of All Worlds, and for the same reason we strive to attract people who have particular expertise, backgrounds and passions to share with others in their fields. People are more likely to be comfortable with others they either know directly or indirectly, or know of.
All we are doing is to provide an environment that is already prevalent in real life. Examples are everything from private country clubs to invitation only conferences, to private parties, or your own dining room. It is nonsense to suggest that all these should not be allowed to exist online. And it is not about snobbery; it is human behavior that has not yet effectively reached the online world.
Social Nerdia: The invitations that you sent out for Best of All Worlds included the words "relevance," "trust," and "meaning." Why are these words so important when it comes to our online interactions?
Louise Wachtmeister: Relevance - There is too much indiscriminate noise online today. We need better filters, not more information. We need channels with structured information where we can access information on people, places and things that is contextually relevant.
Trust - Our goal is to create an environment that provides trusted, non-biased information. It's not the wisdom of the crowds - it's about the wisdom of the trusted few.
Meaning - Social media today is dominated by vanity and self-expression, and living in the past. Best of All Worlds is all about utility, forward-looking and structured feedback based on who you are, whom you know, where you are, your perspective, interests, intents and need for privacy. Also, we want to encourage our members to develop their passions, or find new interests, things that add more meaningfulness to your life.
Social Nerdia: Your previous social networking site aSmallWorld launched back in 2004, and some people referred to it as "MySpace for millionaires" and the "world's most exclusive Internet club." What did you learn from that first social networking venture and how has the process of creating and promoting Best of All Worlds been different?
Louise Wachtmeister: We have learned to be more confident and running this company without taking in outsiders who don't fully understand our mission. We will only have partners who share our vision for the company. Not to give up control.
Rather than focusing on exclusivity and luxury as the sole key virtues, Best of All Worlds addresses peoples’ interests and passions in life, and what makes life more interesting and meaningful. When we started building aSmallWorld in 2002 and then launched it in 2004 everything was about transferring your offline network online. We were clearly one of the very first to do that. Best of All Worlds is all about interacting with your existing network around your interests, current location and perspective, as well as expanding your network around your interests.
Social Nerdia: Facebook has been able to reach the masses in its 8+-year history. Almost everyone with Internet access is on Facebook today. Is Best of All Worlds an alternative to Facebook, or a complementary utilitarian platform?
Louise Wachtmeister: Best of All Worlds is a complement to Facebook. We have very different focus. We are also focused on mobile with our iPhone and iPad app. It seems like we are filling a gap where Facebook is not active. In fact 90% of what we do does not exist on Facebook: A global, local and member-based Event Guide, a comprehensive and user-generated City Guide, Trip Planner, Discussion Forums, People search around Location, Modes and Intents, and Global Worlds of shared interests to launch in the coming weeks. What we don't do is Farmville and Zynga nor do we have a newsfeed, although we may add that later.
Social Nerdia: Your revenue model includes Branding, Lead Generation and Local Listings What's the unique value that Best of All Worlds provides to brands?
Louise Wachtmeister: We provide an opportunity to communicate with existing and potential customers indirectly and directly in a trusted and brand relevant environment. Our audience represents a sought after demographic of influencers worldwide. Our audience will be active in segmented worlds of shared interests and passions.
Social Nerdia: In an ideal world, what should be the role of brands in social media?
Louise Wachtmeister: Supporting value-added integrated experiences that deliver relevance in the right setting and time.
Social Nerdia: How has your experience in the diverse worlds of athletics, PR, politics and technology helped you become the woman you are today?
Louise Wachtmeister: I have always been a part of diverse networks, as you say, in athletics, PR, politics, and interactive media. Each of them has catered to one of my interests or passions. I guess it has helped me get a wide perspective on life and better understand people’s needs and perspectives.
Social Nerdia: You are part of a new generation of Swedes that have transformed global pop culture. Who are some of your favorite Swedish authors, filmmakers, musicians, and brands?
Louise Wachtmeister: Sweden has an impressive list of successful brands, entrepreneurs and cultural icons given its limited size. Emerging brands like Spotify, Skype, Klarna, Acne, Stieg Larsson have world-wide recognition, not to mention established ones like IKEA and H&M that have almost succeeded in establishing global domination in their fields. There are a growing amount of Swedish emerging actors and directors in Hollywood, which is great to follow.
Social Nerdia: What advice would you give to aspiring tech entrepreneurs?
Louise Wachtmeister: Believe in your instincts and always keep a close eye on numbers, metrics and trends.