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Raised $18m, Lv Cheng –the 25 years old founder of Raven Tech         By the end of 2014, an app called Music Flow suddenly became prevalent. Its minimalistic style has attached to many users. In the music player market with fierce competition, this app paved out its own way and appears on the pho…

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        By the end of 2014, an app called Music
Flow suddenly became prevalent. Its minimalistic style has attached to many
users. In the music player market with fierce competition, this app paved out
its own way and appears on the phone screens of millions of music users.

         The
company behind Music Flow is called Raven Tech – an art-driven technology
startup. Music Flow is one part of its Project Flow.

         Lv
Cheng, the founder of Raven Tech, told us that they decided to publish Music
Flow before the main project as a market test, because it does not need to
build an additional team.

          Also, the tech company is recognized by lots
of famous people within the industry due to tags on Lv Cheng, such as “wolf”,
“artist” and “geek”. In the angel round and A round, it acquired $18 m from
ZhenFund, MatrixPartners China, DCM and YC. As it is known, Raven Tech is
planning a new round financing.

         -2014.4
Project Flow debuted on the event hosted by 36Kr and Microsoft venture
accelerator, and acquired one million dollars from ZhenFund as its angel
investment. In the next 48 hours, it confirmed another two million dollars of
angel investment from MatrixPartners China.

         -2015.5
A ten million dollar A round financing was led by DCM, and followed by
MatrixPartners China and ZhenFund.

         About
music

         Music
Flow

         Music
Flow was launched in November 2014. It entered the top 20 iTunes music app
within three days. After more than a year, Lv estimated that there are millions
of users on Music Flow.

Music Flow is a
minimalist music player based on voice control. There is no button on the
operating interface. Users could listen to music through Music Flow after
mastering five gestures. As for functions, Music Flow can only play music
according to commands. It does not support playlist, song comment or fans’
social networking.

         The
difference between Music Flow and other music apps is that it can simplify operations
for users in listening to music to a large extent. When you want to listen to
music, you only have to speak out your idea and press any part of your screen,
then Music Flow will play music according to your instructions.

         If
users give more specific instructions, the music that is played will be more
close to their expectations. For example, if you tell it the name of a song or
a singer, then the music will be consistent to your idea. But if there are
duplicated names, the music might influence your listening experience. Besides,
when you describe certain emotion, situation, or a label, the chances of
inconsistence increases.

         In
general, when you are not at the convenience to look at the screen, Music Flow
is the most suitable music player.

         As
copyright awareness has been increasing overall, you might ask questions
referring to copyrights when talking about music playing. At present,
mainstream music player platforms are spending huge amount of money to
accumulate copyrights. Therefore, paying for copyrights has become the
threshold for digital music players. How does Music Flow solve this problem? Lv
said that Music Flow acquires contents through API from domestic music
streaming platforms. It does not involve copyrights.

         It
might also relate to the revenue source of Music Flow. Lv told us that part of
revenues that are brought by additional traffic though open contents from API
will belong to Music Flow. However, the company will not involve in revenues
produced by original contents on the platform.

          Though this mode is possible theoretically,
the revenue produced by music platforms is still known. Judging from few paid
albums, high-quality songs and opened API contents, the revenue produced by
large platforms does not involve both. Therefore, whether Music Flow or other
new players in the future will gain profits through API still remains to be
seen.

         In
addition, though Music Flow is not the major project of Raven Tech, Lv said
that Music Flow would not disappear in the market easily. There will be further
functional adjustments and revision in the future.

         Flow
Studio

         In
2015, Raven Tech established its Flow Studio in a villa in Gaobeidian, Beijing.
This studio has a 150 square meter double studio and control room. Besides, it
has office rooms and activity area upstairs, providing comfortable environment
for people who record and work here.

         According
to Lv, the studio will become the base for music incubators. It aims to help
potential musicians to finish their first song. Now, it starts to cooperate
with musicians. Naozhou (a Chinese band) also recorded their songs of their new
album in Flow Studio. There will be more musicians recording songs in Flow
Stuido.

         “Now,
professional musicians are responsible for Flow Studio. For example, the former
drummer of Escape Plan is responsible for our offline operation. Now, no matter
you want to learn piano or guitar, you can go to jam if you plug on your
guitar.”

         About
Flow

         Flow
at present

         In
September 2015, Project Flow entered beta phase. In December 2015, Flow
launched and met with users.

         According
to the official introduction, “Flow is a chatting tool of next generation and
the prototype of future operating system”. We can see the ambition from this
young team.

         Now,
there is a visual artificial intelligence assistant called EVA in Flow. Through
EVA, you can make four core missions, including taking a taxi, listening to
music, finding places around and navigating. You don’t need to switch among
Wechat, Dazhong, and Uber when you want to invite a friend for dinner.

         The
idea of combining multiple activities on one platform is to make life more
effective, purer and simpler through changing human-computer interaction.
“Spend your time on when needed.”

         Through
connecting to API and cooperating with streaming platforms, Uber, Dazhong and
Gaode Map, the core functions are available on Flow.

         In
the future, Lv said Flow will open its platform to allow third parties to come
in, such as basic life service which includes takeout, quick delivery, or movie
tickets, air plane tickets and so on. All might appear on Flow.

         Therefore,
Flow will have a revenue mode such as that in Music Flow. It will get relative
part in business profits after providing additional traffic. But this is the simplest
and most basic revenue mode on Flow.

         When
asked about how Flow will gain revenue in the future, Lv took an example, “What’s
the profit model of Apple when it was established? No one can make an accurate estimation.
If someone asked Steve Jobs Apple’s profit model, he might not answer it
correctly.”

         After
knowing Flow, a co-founder of one technology company told us, “This idea is
very good. But they must run fast.”

         As
for this, Lv Cheng who always acts quicker than saying, told us, “I’m sure that
we will be the first team to realize it.”

         Flow
in the future

         In
order to run in the front, for Flow, what needs to be considered is not merely
expanding its functions.

         Lv
introduced, “We have two goals this year. The first is that people could think about
more channels besides app, no matter in product or hardware cooperation. The
second is that we will have some tests in little hardware within this year.”

         As
for little hardware, Raven Technology wants to do something useful and
interesting. For example, when you put a small button in the bathroom, and you can
listen to music if you press it. But when you put it in other situations, it
will activate applications in the relative conditions.

         In
terms of artificial intelligence, Lv thought that most AI home appliances are
not qualified now, “Each device needs an app, but there’s no connection among
home appliances. This should not be called an ideal condition.”

         Lv
described a situation: When you return home, Flow will automatically connect to
the WiFi in your home. And if your TV has also connected to it, then your phone
will become a remote control for TV. While listening a song in the living room
and you want to continue the song as you walk into the bedroom, you only need
to open the player in your bedroom through Flow.

         Raven
Tech never hides its ambition. Will new operation change the time that human
are hijacked by apps? In the former interview, Lv had responded to their
rivals, “We have no intention to compete with WeChat. Flow is for the next
generation. We only want to do our own parts. History will help us to eliminate
WeChat.” This time, Lv asked, “What’s your idea of next generation of iPhone products?”

         Lv
thought the form of Flow on the phone will remain its present condition. Within
this year, Flow might appear in another new hardware, which will fit it well.
When asked about whether they will launch a new “phone”, Lv smiled, “Who knows?”

         Interview
postscript: About Lv Cheng

         Lv
Cheng, as the core member of Raven Tech, was born in 1990 and graduated from
University of Liverpool. He started his business during the university time, and
was once on the list of “30 entrepreneurs under 30 in 2015” by Forbes.

         The
after-90s entrepreneur, who leads the team from Microsoft venture accelerator
to Silicon Valley Y Combinator (famous Silicon Valley start-up incubator) and participated
the three-month incubation, likes to drink coke as ordinary boys and his inner
heart is filled with “vibrant wolf spirit” – pursuing fast, quality and
success. Lv smiled and explained, “It is created by the environment.”

         On
Zhihu, there is a question about “What kind of experience it is as to work in
Raven Tech?”. As there are some answers referring it as a rich experience,
others thought it was an activity of public relation.

         But
Lv didn’t mind it, “First of all, if you investigate through the ID, and find
the person is sitting in our office. However, those who do not agree are who
can’t get sour grapes. If you want to know the experience, you’d better come
own your own.”

         From
his answers to why he wanted to change human-machine interaction mode, we can
see the reason why he could keep going forward so bravely.

         “First,
I more curious about the world than others when I was young. I think it’s the
biggest motivation. Also, I’m very sensitive. Though most people think that’s
fine, I do not. Third, I don’t have any burden. Lots of people fails, for their
burdens are too heavy. They think people have to meet lots of requirements in
order to become a great man. But it’s not. When you are not satisfied with
something, then start with what you can. Later, you will become an expert in
this area.”

         Though
during most time of the interview, Lv was active, confident and ambitious, we
felt he was “the combination of emotion and reason”.

         When
asked about his temper, he felt a bit wronged and explained, “Why I’m bad
tampered? Because we need efficiency and lots of things should be done
directly, especially for innovative companies. We are a team rather than a
family. You do it in order to win rather than for happiness. For example, if a
lion is going to prey on a sheep, it does not care whether the sheep is pregnant
or happy. It eats for survival.”

         “Most
people only knows that I’m not good tempered, but they don’t know how deep I
love someone or something. I’m angry, but sometimes I have deep affection. I
understand what devotion means. Though other people may not care, it’s true for
me. It has been two and a half year since I return to the county, but I only
went back home once.”

         Lv’s
grandpa passed away a month ago, he sadly told some stories about his grandpa.
But till now, he hasn’t return home after his grandpa died.

         “I
know I could not accept it. I know I would break down if I come back.”

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