Wattl was founded by Emma and Matthew Ryan
Wattl was founded by Emma and Matthew Ryan

Husband and wife launch app with ‘potential to disrupt’ social media giants

A startup based in Manchester has launched a new platform for discovering viral videos.

Wattl, an app created by husband-and-wife duo Matthew and Emma Ryan, is aiming to turn the way people interact with social media on its head.

Forgoing the traditional linear feeds adopted by social outlets Facebook and Instagram, Wattl offers users a scrollable, interactive grid that plays videos simultaneously and in real time.

To navigate through the content, users pinch, scroll and drag the grid, zooming in or out as they view individual videos and images.

The platform displays its content using an algorithm that blends user engagement, genre and age.

Wattl co-founders Emma and Matthew, who have previously developed apps and digital platforms for global brands such as the BBC and Universal Pictures, are based at Manchester Science Partnerships’ (MSP) £14m Bright Building.

The startup and its core app were developed within Mi-IDEA, an innovation center launched last year by MSP in partnership with tech giant Cisco.

Emma Ryan, CEO at Wattl, said: “The traditional newsfeed is dying out. Users increasingly want innovative ways to access content, on their own terms and without restriction.

“With so much content being uploaded daily it’s becoming harder and harder to find relevant and engaging videos. Wattl provides a bird’s eye overview of the web’s most interesting clips and pictures, keeping you ahead of the curve by showing you what’s popular each day, and removing old content.”

She continued: “Although it has the potential to disrupt tech giants like Facebook and YouTube, we’re not aiming to be a direct competitor. We see Wattl as the first place you go to find content. It’s a shop window for the best videos on the internet, which may well take users to other established platforms.

“The long-term vision is for pre-recorded and live-broadcast footage to sit side by side on the grid; with users publishing alongside their favourite brands and celebrities.”

Wattl CTO Dr Matthew Ryan commented: “Wattl is an exciting technical challenge that we’ve loved working on. We have an international patent pending on the video platform and we are using the very latest cloud and AI technologies.

“Manchester has been the ideal place to develop the app, and the support afforded by the Mi-iDEA programme has been invaluable.”

He added: “As a city, it’s also home to a buzzing, tech-savvy population and the perfect user base for Wattl. We’re delighted to reach this stage of development and excited to see how the app is received.”

MSP’s head of innovation and partnerships, Anne Dornan, said: “Emma and Matt have amazing track records of developing successful apps for global brands. We are thrilled to be able to support their new venture based at Manchester Science Park, where they can access additional specialist services to help scale their business.

“Mi-IDEA is designed to nurture the most promising startups in the digital technology sector; and with this exciting new product launch, Wattl certainly fits that description.”

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