KUMU: Creating Its Own Community

As I write this, the Philippines is still under Community Quarantine due to Covid-19’s presence. While some people are slowly trying to move like there’s no pandemic, most of us chose to stay at the confines of our homes; avoiding the possibility of acquiring the disease in whatever way we can. So, we work from home but unfortunately, given our current situation, a lot of people whose means of earning money requires them to entertain people, mount events, teach a skill still couldn’t do so freely. But thanks to apps like Kumu, we’re given an outlet, a space to be able to be creative and at the same time earn.

“In a nutshell, Kumu is a social media entertainment platform,” says co-founder and chief of community James Rumohr. Kumu, which is short for “kumusta (How are you?)” is a fast-rising soapbox where people, mostly Gen-Z and millennial Pinoys, do livestreams of anything and everything that passes through its community standards. The streaming app has a policy of keeping their platform family-friendly as much as possible, something that I find agreeable, to be perfectly honest. “It is different from all competing apps because it’s based on the love of connecting and supporting our users from all around the world and the underlying connector of our function is our Filipino focus in making sure our features and the app development is tied to relevant Filipino culture,” explains James, who’s born and raised in San Jose, California but opted to reside here in the Philippines with his family. James, who was an ex-military police in the US Air Force, is a hands-on co-founder. You’d see him stream or guest in a Kumu channel frequently.   

In 2017, CEO and lead founder Roland Ros wanted to develop a platform to connect Filipinos around the world. He then recruited the founding team from different parts of America, but they all have ties and were very familiar and comfortable with the market and culture in the Philippines. It began as a messaging platform but with data and user feedback, Kumu pivoted towards live stream function, which is now the platform’s primary function. Kumu had their official launch last August 2018 and for more than two years, its community has been growing exponentially with singers, thespians, hosts, and your everyday creative people who have found an outlet to share their talent with immediate audience interaction. As mentioned earlier, you can also earn in Kumu. Your viewers can send you gifts that converts into diamonds, and eventually, if you have 50,000 worth of diamonds, you can convert them into pesos.

I too have joined in on the fun. I’ve been streaming from time to time with some themed shows with friends or just merely sharing my day with whoever is there watching. To know more about KUMU, read on as I asked James a few questions about the app.  

WHY DO YOU THINK KUMU IS SUCH A HIT WHILE WE’RE ON QUARANTINE?

James Rumohr: It is because of our higher engagement and accessibility for our users to connect with each other. It also allows users to earn through virtual gifting. Kumu provides a safe space and opportunities for the entertainment industry, art industry, theatre and creator industry, which were mostly affected by the Covid pandemic.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT KUMU?

My favorite thing about the app is having a platform that provides our users an opportunity to earn, to meet by providing users a virtual social meeting place. And mostly, also it gives people the opportunities to socialize and a chance to reconnect to the Philippines if they are based around the world.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DIFFICULT THINGS ABOUT MANAGING THE APP?

Making the hard decision on what contents are allowed and not allowed in the app. It is a difficult thing because we are very defensive in upholding the culture of our community. We take our values of Kumu being a safe, positive, and welcoming environment for our users and we do everything we can to keep those values in all our decision-making process.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO SEE USING KUMU?

I would love for all generations, regardless of the age, gender, nationality, or location. I want everyone to be connected and to be entertained. Personally speaking, I would also love to see more athletes and Filipino-Americans on the app.

WHOSE KUMU CHANNEL DO YOU FREQUENT THE MOST? WHOSE CHANNEL WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR PEOPLE TO GO SEE?

I love visiting and engaging with all the official community teams of Kumu.  I am a huge fan of Apple Chui because she entertains our users consistently, she engages with our users through cooking, singing, dancing, acting, and having a goodtime.

WHAT’S YOUR DREAM FOR KUMU? WHERE DO YOU WANT IT TO GO AFTER A FEW YEARS?

My dream for Kumu is to become a super entertainment platform around the world.

WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE PEOPLE WHO WOULD LIKE TO GET ON KUMU? ADVICE TO CURRENT STREAMERS?

My advice to people who would like to get on Kumu is to go live, make friends, and build a community.  My advice to current streamers who live stream consistently is to have a great cover photo and read and engage with the users on the comment box.

You can download Kumu for free at the Apple Store and Google Play. To know more about Kumu, visit https://kumu.ph/.