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  • Matilde Aranha

Interview: Kelly Rutherford & Benjamin Buthmann

SpeakEasy's Matilde Correia da Silva meets the CEO of Whyzzer and Actor/Investor Kelly Rutherford at Websummit in Lisbon

Benjamin Buthmann & Kelly Rutherford - Photo by Tyler Miller/Web Summit

It was the last day of Websummit 2023. CEO and co-founder of Whyzzer, Benjamin Buthmann and actress and Whyzzer investor, Kelly Rutherford were to meet us after their press conference. They had just launched Whyzzer talks, the new branch of their knowledge-exchange app, a couple of hours before our interview. 

I met  Benjamin in the media hallway. He cheered on my ideas for Whyzzer´s  newly released project,a tool designed in the format of social media to entice and ease learning. After some battling off her popularity with grace,  the quintessence of Lily Van der Woodsen came to join us. 

In our conversation we determined that the similarities between Kelly and her esteemed character went well beyond fashion and poise. Her attentive eye for investing in innovation was what allowed Benjamin and his team to kick-start Whyzzer

Take a look at how this improbable duo came to join forces into optimising social media.

Interviewer: I heard you met skiing.

Benjamin:  That's where we met in person…Originally, we did a cold outreach via email. (...) Back in the day, we were working on a different concept where we would produce the content ourselves. We were looking for interesting people to portray, and Kelly was one. (...) Lucky enough, she read our email and was attached to the idea. We met through zoom but she wanted to meet in person…as soon as possible… At the time, she was on a skiing trip with her family in Saint Moritz. So we flew there,crossing our fingers.We had no time nor money. So we didn't  really ski. 

Interviewer: Kelly, what motivated you to go outside of your original field?

Kelly: One of the reasons why I became an actress was a desire to learn about the world, and a curiosity on why people do what they do. So I really resonated with Benjamin´s aspiration to make knowledge accessible and based on connecting with people. 

Interviewer: What differs Whyzzer talks from other learning tools?

Benjamin: In most learning applications you have a typical school format. A crowd listening to a lecturer. The interaction between them is totally missing. And that's proven to result in lots of dropouts. Whyzzer has been successfully combating this with a completely new approach to content production. Focused on the engagement factor seen to work so well in tiktok and instagram… Whyzzer provides users with the benefit of actually communicating with their lecturer. 

Interviewer: Do you envision Whyzzer being incorporated into classical learning?

Benjamin: Yes! It is already happening. We are currently working with the technical  university of Munich in that sense. We have also had more and more requests from students and professors on how they could integrate whyzzer into their programmes. 

Interviewer:  How have you benefited from Whyzzer, as a content creator yourself?

Kelly: As a creator, I´ve learned  what people are interested in hearing me talk about. Which have been wonderful surprises! (...) As a user, it's all about feeding my many interests…Whether it is interior design or A.I…And getting to hear experts discuss them. (...) As well as following my friends and learning more about their likes!

Interviewer: Kelly, you are an absolute fashion icon. You have truly impacted many generations. What tips do you have for anyone trying to find their fashion sense?

Kelly: There are so many influences to follow nowadays… I'm overwhelmed by it! I mean, when I was growing up I would just tear ideas out of magazines (...) or look at my mother and her friends or at actresses like Catherine Deneuve. It was always older women that I admired. I never wanted to be trendy. So I really started by looking into timeless things, things that were beautiful. (...) [Fashion] is one of those things where energy plays a big role. You could be wearing jeans and a shirt and that would really be a very different thing according to the person you are. I think fashion is just another way to express the type of beauty you love. I'm drawn to meticulous things. I love artisans that still hand make their garments. For me, elegance is the motor. 

Interviewer: One last mandatory question. Benjamin, have you ever watched Gossip Girl?

Benjamin: Yes. And I watched it twice.

Kelly: Wow. See, I never knew this! This is perfect!

Interviewer: That is very interesting to know… Who was your favourite character?

That was when we were assured that this was a partnership written in the stars… Benjamin´s favourite character was no less than Kelly´s stepson on the show, Dan. 

The difference between Kelly´s protégés? One is the pioneer of meaningful content. The other likes to gossip… 

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