The Singapore startup behind the events-discovery app wants to reverse what on-demand delivery services and the remote working lifestyle are doing to us
Has the Internet been steadily molding us into a bunch of hermits? This Medium post on ‘the shut-in economy’ seems to think so.
With more of us living alone, ordering dinner from foodpanda and doing all our shopping on Amazon — the chances of serendipitous human interaction nowadays are practically slim to none.
How do we solve this impending crisis that threatens to swallow up all remnants of our past as social beings?
We came across the newly launched MeetApp, an app which basically lets you create, browse and share events. Armed with the mission to connect people via events, the Singapore-based startup behind the app wants to reverse the socially-detrimental effects of on-demand delivery services and the remote working lifestyle.
It’s location-based, so you’ll be able to find events of interest when you’re on that next business trip. And I’d say MeetApp could be especially useful for us passionate startup folk that are always exploring new tech scenes when travelling.
We had a chat with MeetApp’s Co-founder Raman Shalupau, former Front-end Designer at RedMart and Co-organiser of JSConf.Asia to learn more about the app.
Here is an excerpt of the interview:
1. Can you tell me more about the app?
MeetApp is a simple way to create, find and share events. You can invite your friends and family to events you’re hosting, share your plans and stay on top of what’s happening with your friends and around you.
There are three key features:
- Create and share events. You can create an event and invite friends in under ten seconds. We believe that this fast and simple UX will help people host events more frequently.
- Events feed, which is a stream of events your friends are going to. Make sure to follow a few popular organisers to stay on top of their events.
- Discovery: Browse categories and search for keywords, titles and hosts. This will work anywhere you go. Try it during your next business trip to Hong Kong or, say, a getaway in Bali.
2. How did you come up with the idea to build such an app?
If fact, this is a long personal story. But, about a year ago we had this strong realisation of how the world is increasingly becoming a shut-in place, where people spend more time at home, staring at their phone screens.
This is thanks to on-demand delivery services and remote work lifestyles. Certainly, these are great and convenient, but people are interacting less with each other. And we were experiencing this ourselves. While working from home for long periods of time, anxiety is a frequent quest and it’s become quite unhealthy.
We realised [that] in the future, the only reason you’ll get a chance to meet face-to-face will be at events. Yes, those gatherings of people at a point in time, specified location and united by certain purpose — events. So we’ve sent ourselves on a mission to help people meet and MeetApp is just a first step in accomplishing it.
3. What was the hardest thing when it came to developing this app?
Building products that people care about is a craft. It is never easy, takes time and discipline. Hardest things we’ve faced were around design and user experience decisions.
For example, the decision to ask for both Facebook Login and phone number during signup. Many thought we were crazy, and advised us against it.
Knowing this information about you really helps us recommend better events to go to and friends to follow. It also makes it easy for your friends to invite you to their events just with a phone number.
We were stubborn. We went with this decision… And our users trusted us with this data. They were rewarded with a stream of events and friends they follow, with the ability to discover cool events nearby — and that’s worth it.
Also , on the technology side — there are several hard challenges there too.
Search, relevancy and recommendation engines is one area. Getting quality events from all sources possible, keeping them up to date and accurate — is another.
In fact, we are gradually becoming a “Google for events”, if you will. We maintain a large geo-spatial index of various events from all over the world and make it searchable in milliseconds.
4. How are you marketing it?
We are relying solely on word of mouth. We were excited to see some of our early adopters creating events on MeetApp and inviting their friends to join. Cool thing is, you can invite friends that are not on the app yet just by having their phone number. Pick attendees via your phone’s address book and we’ll send free SMS invitations on [your] behalf.
We believe it’s important to first see whether your users love your product and tell their friends about it. Only after you’ve built something a small group of people love, might you go and aggressively market it with paid advertising. But we are still very happy with our organic growth.
5. What are your plans for the next six months?
We just want to build a simple product that solves a simple problem — hosting and attending events. We are working on making the app faster, simpler, with better event suggestions and increasing content quality. That simple.
Some time next year we’ll announce a launch of a dedicated business tool, “MeetApp Business,” for pro event promoters, hosts and venues. Several established Singaporean brands, including nightclubs Altimate, kyō, Refuge, Canvas, are already using MeetApp Business (Beta) to manage their events and audience.
If you can’t wait for next year — drop us a line (yourfriends [at] meetapp [dot] co) — we’ll see how we can fit your events in our limited beta program.
6. You’ve just launched, but what traction can you report?
We’ve been running in beta for about a month prior to the launch and we were happy to see higher engagement than we anticipated.
Unfortunately, we cannot report the exact number of downloads now. All we can say is it’s a three-digit number and growing.
We believe the quantity of downloads or signups does not matter anyway. What matters is the retention rate and whether users are emotionally involved, which is harder to quantify.
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