Louise Mensch: ‘Twitter owns general conversation’

Meet Louise Mensch; she’s a best-selling fictional author, one of the most spoken-about and talk-show famous Tory MPs in history, the wife to Peter Mensch, the manager of Metallica, Jimmy Page and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and most recently the co-founder of a tech-startup, creatively named Menshn.

Menshn allows users to ‘talk on topic’ in realtime chatrooms, with the ability to reply to, or mention specific users. The site – which launched this weekend in the UK – has some very similar functions to Twitter, however Louise Mensch stressed that “Twitter owns general conversation and we aren’t trying to compete”.

Louise – who has over 60,000 ‘followers’ on Twitter, and has trended worldwide a number of times – went on to tell us that “Twitter is doing everything right, we’re just doing something as well as, not instead of, Twitter. Unlike hashtags our topics are permanent and a two-way conversation. So you can obsess about the stuff that matters to you”.

Despite some people’s concerns on the closeness of the two sites, Menshn seems to be gaining traction, according to Louise and her business partner, Luke Bozier’s tweets. Louise revealed that the site has had ‘over 180,000 unique visitors’ so far, with Bozier boasting that ‘over 2000 Menshns posted during the England v Italy match’ yesterday evening.

Although the site has only recently launched (last week in the US, for the US elections, and this weekend in the UK), Louise revealed that work has been in progress for a while. She told use that “I had the idea at Christmas, before pitching it to Luke in March; he’s the coder. We’ve worked on it in our spare time since – it’s been a real labour of love and fitted in around all my other duties”.

We asked Louise how she and Luke plan to make money from the new venture – if they’re seeking funding and when we can expect to hear news on such matters.

Teething Problems?

Just hours after the UK launch of the site, posts and menshn started appearing, claiming that there were weaknesses in the site’s code, allowing ‘hackers’ to gain details such as passwords, which were being stored in clear-text.

The professional web developer, Jonathan Buchanan, who pointed the problems out to Bozier, sent him information showing that the passwords could be obtained along side Twitter profile information.

Another Twitter related problem came hours into the UK launch, with the API rate reaching its limit, causing Bozier to take to Twitter asking for advice, and offering to pay. Louise replied – rather simply – “It’d be nice to have some investors as we need to code some apps. We’ll see how it goes”.

All of the problems on the site seem to have been resolved. This morning, Luke tweeted: “Menshn runs completely on an encrypted ‘https’ connection – all passwords, email addresses and everything else are secure.”, before saying that “…I’m going to bed. Incredible day for Britain’s newest tech start-up”.

***

Menshn Basics:

  • You start with 100 ‘subscribers’ which gains you 100 points. The more subscribers you get, the more points.
  • Your ‘Menshns’ are deleted after one week – the site claims they’re then ‘not stored on our servers’
  • Like Twitter, you can mention users, but you don’t use the @username method, rather you type //username.
  • You ‘talk on topic’ within the suggested chat areas on the home page. The current UK chatrooms include ‘euro2012′, ‘tech’ and ‘uselections’.
  • You can sign up with a stand alone account, or with your Twitter of Facebook login details.
  • You can also send and receive ‘private messages’ from your account

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