Nothing can be more uncomfortable than having someone standing right behind you while you’re working, right? But for Chris Weiher and his startup Watch Me Work, he’s building an entire business around the idea that the over-the-shoulder sharing model could help connect creatives through a social network to help them grow their own skill sets.

Watch Me Work is a live-streaming collaborative project that lets you stream your creative process to a global community of experts and learners. It’s an idea that got its start a little over a year and a half ago. It was one of a few ideas that Chris had that he thought was worth pitching at a Startup Weekend Education edition at National Louis University in Chicago.

As it turns out, others thought it was a good idea too. It was selected as one of the ideas to move through to the next round and allowed him to really see what could be of his raw business. Although he and his team ultimately wouldn’t end up winning the competition, it was still enough fuel to pursue it further.

PEN visited with Chris in Normal, just one of the places you’ll see him working across Central Illinois, to find out more about Watch Me Work and how things have been coming along.

WMW PR 02Why did you think an idea like Watch Me Work could be a thing?
My original idea was to create long-form videos of people working. I was trying to learn Adobe Illustrator myself, and was looking for a resource to help me. I would literally Google “watch me work” because I wanted to see other people how others were using the software and if I could learn different ways to use it. What eventually made this idea even more interesting was live-streaming.

It took going to Startup Weekend to really pursue this idea without it actually turning into a serious business right away. The more work and the more research we did, the more we realized that this could be a viable idea and business. It’s scalable and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to run. There are many things that lined up that made me want to tackle it now.

Can you explain how it works?
Users create an account once they arrive at the site. Next, they see who’s live or find someone they want to see what they’re working on, pull up their stream, say hello, and connect with a new person. The other side of it is you can create an account and show people your work. This can be somewhat intimidating for some people at first, but with time you get used to it.

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What are the challenges you’ve faced in startup mode?
Building a social network. Getting users and selling them on the idea of it is just as hard, if not harder, than getting your product done. It’s tricky to find the niche group.

How have you overcome early obstacles?
Really, it’s been about finding something that I’m passionate about and not getting too stressed out about it. Starting a community around something I love makes dealing with problems or obstacles easier.

In your opinion, what’s your biggest win?
Seeing the community grow out of people that I truly like and respect. And having those same users contribute to the site in some way.

If you had $1,000,000 what would you do with it?
I could build the site quicker. Also, it would allow me to really sit down and figure out how to grow the educational components of the platform. But without having the money, I have
 to figure it out which makes me work harder. Growing it organically has its benefits too.

Do you have any advice for others starting up?
Make sure that your first project is up and flying before you launch another plane. I see a lot of people who get something started and before they get it stable they go and start something else. I’d also say, work your day job for longer than you might think you need to. Watch Me Work is a product of my other company called Cleaver Creative and that’s what has allowed me to do this on the side.

Interested in seeing Watch Me Work for yourself? Visit watchmework.com and sign up today!

 


This article was created in collaboration with Startup Peoria, a PEN Partner. 

Startup Peoria is a program of the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council. The Greater Peoria EDC is a 501(c) 6 non-profit organization that drives economic growth in a five county region through targeted business and talent development.