The four Trybe app founders outside Chad Kroeger’s jet on a trip to Silicon Valley. From left, Bill Swinimer, Felipe Freig, Chad Kroeger and Dan Swinimer. (Submitted photo)

TECHNOLOGY

B.C.-born Trybe social media app’s award system connects with Nickelback singer

Rock stars, jet planes, scooter tricks and the creation of a new platform ready for launch

Dan Swinimer helped gather a tribe to launch a new app he hopes will disrupt the world of social media and websites where things are bought and sold.

Currently beta-tested for public launch, the Trybe platform counts Nickelback singer/guitarist Chad Kroeger among its four “founders/angels,” along with Swinimer, his father Bill and fellow Surrey-area musician/construction company boss Felipe Freig.

“We set out to try and monetize social media, while making it a safer and more positive experience,” said Swinimer, who lives in the Clayton area of Surrey. “We felt it unfair that social media users do all the work, provide all the content but make none of the profits.”

Trybe is based on an award system that sends as little as 10 cents per “like,” coupled with a built-in “win-win” for users, as Swinimer describes it.

“Every time you award someone else’s post, you get exposure for your own post which gives you a better chance of your post being seen and also making money in awards,” he told the Now-Leader.

“It’s turned into a thing, it really has,” added the Ontario-raised Swinimer. “We sold shares and raised almost $2 million, we have head offices in Toronto, a CEO (Thomas Jankowski) and staff of 10 coders. It’s turned into so much more than we originally conceived.”

In the late-2000s, Swinimer and Freig were members of the rock band Jet Black Stare when they met Kroeger, who shared a manager at the time.

(Story continues below video)

Today, Swinimer is a songwriter/producer with his own Manicdown Productions, and Frieg runs Langley-based Versa Homes.

A couple of years ago, Frieg told Swinimer about an issue involving his teen son, Jadis, who’d been posting video of his scooter-riding tricks to social media.

“You can’t even believe the tricks that this kid can do on the scooter, it’s amazing,” Swinimer said. “His son didn’t have any sponsors at that point, but he was spending hours and hours every day practicing, getting really, really good, and then he spent his own money buying all this video equipment and editing software. So he’d spend four or five hours a day practicing, learning tricks, videoing them from multiple angles, then he’d edit these videos just so that he could post them on social media. And what does he get for that? The ‘likes,’ and that’s it. He’d been doing this for a while, and we realized that with the social media model, everyone is providing the product and getting nothing in return.”

(Story continues below video)

View this post on Instagram

Few super sketchy ones too stay active¡! • Got rained out before I could get the last one any cleaner :/ • •👇🏼Make sure to follow the sponsors👇🏼 • @luckyscooters 🍀• • @highrollerenergydrink 🎲 • • @thespacebrace 🦴• • @lairproshop 🛴• • • • • • • • • @ohlaybrand @undialed @jpscooters @thescooterfarm @scootusa #legacyproscooters #tiltscooters #tiltlife #undialed #undialedtv #tsiscooters #outsetselect #aztekscooters #rideproto #protoscooters #skyhighscooters #ohlaybrand #scooter #scootering #explorepage #ohlaybrand #rideua #aoscooters #tsiordie #jawnsondeck #skate #giveaway #nativescooters #envyscooters #ethicdtc #tvps #bluntscooters #northscooters #thescooterfarm #skateboard #playboicarti

A post shared by J Freig🇨🇦🇨🇱 (@jadisfreig_) on

After Swinimer and Freig talked some more, they clicked on the idea for Trybe as a way to monetize social media.

“It’s a platform where if you post something, you have a chance to make money on that post,” Swinimer elaborated. “When people post to social media, the most important thing is content, connecting with people and receiving validation from others. So imagine if you mixed in the possibility of making money and also having complete control over how many people will see your posts.… The more people I reward, the more people will see my posts, and the more chance I have of making money on my posts. If the content is good and views-to-engagement ratio is high, it also drives exposure to the post, so that lights a little fire under the post.”

• RELATED STORY, from May 2020: Arm surgery for Nickelback’s Surrey-raised drummer Daniel Adair.

Out of the gate, Kroeger had the level of celebrity pull sought by Swinimer and Freig for Trybe.

“We discussed it with Chad and right away, he was excited about it because he could see how it could transform the music business,” Swinimer recalled. “It could completely disrupt the entire distribution chain, because it’s a pain in the ass going through iTunes, which takes a lot of the proceeds. So what about a world where you post new music on Trybe? You give a download code to anyone who rewards this post with a dollar or more, and now you’re keeping all the money that comes in.”

Right now, to get early access to the app, users join a waitlist by downloading the iOS or Android app from trybe.ly.

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, Nickelback raved about Trybe’s launch to the band’s 738,000 followers on the rival Twitter platform: “No more giving away your creativity and time to social media giants. The new way — Social. Be yourself, be with your people, get rewards. See you on there.” A day later, Avril Lavigne posted the same message for her 21 million followers on Twitter.

Swinimer says Kroeger is “very involved” in the project, and likes to be in the meetings when and where he can, including the time when the four Trybe founders flew in Kroeger’s private jet to Silicon Valley.

“We didn’t tour with Nickelback (with Jet Black Stare) back then, but toured with a lot of their friends, like 3 Doors Down, Hinder and Staind,” Swinimer recalled. “For someone of his level of recognition, Chad is very accessible to musicians. He’s not hard to find and he’s happy to talk to people. One night he took us out to celebrate our record deal when we first signed it, so that was kind of our first foray. He took us out to the Commodore Ballroom because Kid Rock was doing a special invite-only show there. So we’re in his little VIP section, and then we went to some penthouse suite afterwards to hang out. It was weird, man, because up to that point it was all independent music, never getting anywhere, and all the sudden we’re partying with Kid Rock. It was a wild ride.”

In the decade since those rock-band days, after Jet Black Stare’s record deal with Island Def Jam had collapsed, Swinimer turned his attention to country music and launching the careers of musicians including Madeline Merlo and Jojo Mason. “I’ve been living in Surrey for 20 years,” he noted. “I built my production company here and have written/produced upwards of 40 hit songs since starting.”

• RELATED STORY, from March 2020: Surrey’s JoJo Mason brings mom along for Saturday song during Diesel Bird Digital Music Festival.

As for Trybe, the app’s public release should be in a month or so, he said.

“We’re using a system where we are making it very exclusive and making people excited about it, excited to get in early. We have multiple celebrities on board to get behind this new idea once we are public. It’s very exciting.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The salmon run has also begun at Goldstream Provincial Park for the 2020 season. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Salmon returning to Sooke River

Charters Salmon Interpretive Centre closed but trails remain open

The clearing of the land for the new Vancouver Island Regional Library in Sooke began Thursday. The $7.5-million building on Wadams Way between Anna Marie and Townsend roads will include more than 14,400 square feet of space, children’s area fireplace lounge, laptop bar and community space. The library is expected to open in spring 2022. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)
Ground-breaking for the new Sooke library

New Sooke library expected be completed by spring 2020

Sooke Elementary kindergarteners Zoe Sperrer (left), Christel Loutet, Chase MacKay and Gr. 5 Jace Ferris are helping to plant a native plant garden on their school property. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Sooke Elementary plants native plant garden with help from community

Sooke Elementary teachers, students expand backyard garden

Saanich police are warning residents that rutting season has begun and deer may get their antlers tangled in items left in yards. (Saanich Police Department/Twitter)
Deer with items tangled in antlers spotted in Saanich as rutting season begins

Police, B.C. Conservation Service warn of possibly aggressive bucks through fall

Saanich South Liberal candidate Rishi Sharma commits to addressing issues at the five-way intersection of Interurban and Wilkinson roads in partnership with the municipality if elected. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich South Liberal candidate commits to improving Interurban/Wilkinson intersection

‘Confusing five-way intersection,’ needs attention, Rishi Sharma says

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BC VOTES 2020: Mid-Island candidate plans occupation of shelter to protest homelessness

Graham Hughes says homeless situation a ‘crisis’ in Port Alberni

Parksville’s Jared Huggan won $75,000 playing BC/49. (BCLC/Photo submitted)
Vancouver Island man $75K richer after purchasing winning lottery ticket at Nanaimo Walmart

Parksville’s Huggan plans to purchase electric bike for partner

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

The Cowichan Steelheads’ Jesus Martinez (left) and the Cowichan 49ers’ Daryl Rodgers chase down the ball during Saturday night’s all-Cowichan clash at the Sherman Road turf. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan masters derby takes unexpected turn with broken leg

Soccer community comes together in midst of battle

Larry Whetstone is concerned about the condition of Jeffries Road, where he has lived for 30 years. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Poor condition of rural road in Cowichan has resident fed up

Transportation Ministry says repair plan under development

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Most Read