Darren Haynes, the Marketing Director at Hey Music, the parent company of Hey Ants, speaks about the story behind the company and its plans for the region
Give us a background of your company.
Our parent company is called Hey Music. Within the organisation we have various sub-brands including Hey Ants, a file transfer service and Hey Mag, a digital magazine for music lovers, with more “Hey” products due for imminent release. We’re based in Dubai, which of course is transforming into the innovation hub of the Middle East.
Geographical location has worked to our advantage because the city attracts lots of tech start-ups and entrepreneurs, many of whom have become our customers. We’re just a small team though from the UAE, UK, India, Pakistan, Australia, Colombia and the Lebanon. We’re proud of our Middle Eastern roots but our vision for the company is much wider and our products have been created with the global creative communities in mind.
How did you conceptualize the idea behind Hey Ants?
Hey Ants (www.heyants.com) is just one component of the larger Hey Music project. During the Hey Music R&D phase, we’d spent a lot of time talking with musicians, producers, singer-songwriters and the peripheral creative industries because this was our working world. Collaborations in music is commonplace.
You’ll often find that a songwriter in London will collaborate with someone in L.A. but the producer may be based elsewhere. The problem was: how can music stems, sound clips or master files be shared if they can’t be attached to email? We had the solution, so decided to launch Hey Ants as a stand alone product before the full roll out of Hey Music.
The name itself originated from a brainstorming session where we were trying to think of animals that work well together. The analogy of an ant colony working together and the fact that ants can carry ten to fifty times their own body weight just seemed to work. The feedback from our market research said that our target audiences liked the name because it’s a bit quirky and not too formal.
What would be the unique selling points of Hey Ants?
Hey Ants is an online file transfer service that can be used to securely send files that are too large to attach to email. The service guarantees that the file doesn’t get stuck in firewalls and doesn’t get blocked by email account limits.
Hey Ants is available in Arabic, Hindi and English which has certainly helped us gain users in this region. Since we’re such a small team, we are also able to offer a more personalised service to corporate clients who want to buy bulk accounts for their staff. This has led to flexibility in price too. We’ve been able to undercut competitors and work with larger corporations to offer a business resource within their specified budgets.
Who is the target audience for such a platform?
The simple answer would be anyone who needs to send a file that is too large to attach to regular email. The file could be anything from PDFs, to photographs, music or videos. However, on a B2B level, our users are generally PR & marketing agencies, graphic designers, illustrators, start-ups, corporates, freelancers, musicians, commercial photographers and videographers.
To name check a few brands, some of our regular clients include Toyota Connected, Sony Music Middle East, Rivoli Group, Virgin Media, BKP Media Group and Warner Bros. Just recently teachers and students have started using Hey Ants too. I think because the basic package is free, it works for people who aren’t operating with big budgets. The system is secure, so obviously we can’t see the content of the sent files, but we’ve had feedback that teachers are using Hey Ants to send PDFs of their lesson plans and other admin documents.
What sets you apart from similar services already available on the market?
We’re not the first company in the file transfer field. Many of our competitors have been around a lot longer than us but we are a credible alternative. A bit of healthy competition is ultimately a good thing for the customer. Hey Ants is standing up well and competes on price, service capacity, features, language options and, I would argue, brand attachment.
We’re doing particularly well in the GCC / MENA region and some parts of India too. This localised success and service adoption is largely due to Hey Ants being available in Arabic, Hindi and English. Spanish is on the schedule for later this year too. Another aspect that sets us apart is the genuine desire to support artistic and creatives in the region.
The site is designed to support full-screen advertising which can be used commercially. Early on, we made a commitment to always offer 30% of our online inventory to local creative communities for free. This means that there’s a real opportunity to showcase talent and portfolio of work. I think this philanthropic approach has helped to garner strong support among creatives.
What sort of new features do you plan to add to the platform in the future?
We’ve got some great initiatives lined up and additional features for the Hey Ants service. The Development Team are currently busy working on Hey Ants 2.0 so I don’t want to divulge too much at this stage. With regard to the general ‘Hey’ universe, we are close to launching a raft of new products. One of the most exciting initiatives is the introduction of a media player.
This feature will be used to share ‘ephemeral’ content. Imagine grown-up business versions of Snapchat or Instagram Stories. If brands want their audiences to only have access to content for a limited time span or for a certain number of plays without being able to download it, this would be the professional tool to use. Also on the schedule are a print-on-demand merchandise service and an event and ticketing management platform.
How does the paid plan work? What are the added benefits compared with the free version?
Hey Ants is pretty straightforward and transparent. As mentioned, there’s a basic free forever package which is perfectly adequate for most users. There’s a 2GB limit on the file transfer. The Hey Ants Black premium tier offers more features and higher capacities, such as download expiry and password protection.
The cost is just US$ 9.99 per month and the capacity ramps up to 20GB. This tier would be most suitable for frequent professional users sending large files as part of their regular working day. All of the extras and features are listed on the website www.heyants.com and payment can be made on the site too.