Las Vegans aim to bridge video broadcasting gap with new social app / photo illustration

According to its description in the app store, “Symposium is a worldwide social-commerce marketplace with unprecedented access to business professionals, celebrities, athletes, social media trendsetters and many more by connecting users via scheduled video chat and live pay-per-view broadcasts.”

Teachers, speakers and presenters will soon be able to charge consumers directly for their live videos if a group of Las Vegas tech gurus and celebrity investors have their way.

Symposium, founded by Las Vegas locals and based in the Valley, aims to compete with live video platforms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The only difference is that unlike those platforms, video broadcasters with Symposium can earn money without having to bring sponsors on board.

“If an individual wants to offer their time, they can make money from it,” says Glenn Geller, the company’s COO. “And that’s everything from tutoring to giving lessons or broadcasting.”

Most users of the two-year-old startup app include individual entrepreneurs, such as teachers, coaches and celebrities. Users aren’t yet counting on Symposium for full-time work, but as a supplementary source of income for their expertise, advice, tutoring or greetings. The app has about 500 users, and Geller says potential for growth is “unlimited.”

“We’re not putting a cap on how much we want this to grow,” he says.

Ogden and Geller were among several Las Vegas entrepreneurs to team up for the app to fill what they perceived to be a need in everyday social media users’ ability to monetize their own video content. Symposium is free in the App Store for iPhone and on Google Play for Android.

Geller, who helped launch the company in 2016, says Symposium was Vegas-born and will continue to operate here as it grows because of the Valley’s focus on tourism and international business.

Las Vegas resident Jonathan Ogden, an NFL Hall of Famer who spent 12 season as an offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, co-founded Symposium. One of several celebrity users of the app, he charges consumers $50 to make a customized recorded greeting for birthdays, celebrations “or just general hellos.”

The former football star touts the company’s three unique video methods—SymCast, a one-on-one live video conversation; SymGram, a recorded greeting; and SymTalk, one-to-many chat in which broadcasters can take questions from members of the audience and bring the person asking the question onto the live video stream. Ogden calls the three distinct methods a “really unique” way of e-commerce.

Erik Drake, a youth baseball coach for the 11-and-under Spring Valley Little League All Star travel team, used Symposium this spring season to broadcast his team’s four games. Setting up a cellphone camera with a clear angle of the field, Drake said he charged people who couldn’t make the team’s games $5 to tune into the live Symposium stream (Symposium keeps 20 percent of each sale). He used the app as a fundraiser for the team, later contributing that to an end-of-season party with players’ families.

“A lot of people will sell chocolate bars and raffle tickets, and that’s one way to do it, but a lot of time, that’s more work,” Drake says. “This was a great way to fundraise without asking people to put any extra hours in.”


This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.