I met up in Seattle with EVP of Product at Unsocial, Kiran Modak to find out more about Unsocial, a rather nifty event networking application that runs on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. For an overview of the app, check the article that was published yesterday.
So Kiran, tell me about your inspiration for the app?
The genesis of the app came about when we were in an Airport waiting on a delayed flight. We realized there is currently no way to let people around you know who you were and what you do. The idea is to use your location no matter when as a business tool, and using mobile phones is the best way to do that. We feel the business community is underserved greatly especially in the social networking realm where, apart from LinkedIn, there is no service that allows people to network and meet. Unsocial bridges that gap, allowing people to discover people they need to know.
What is your business model?
We work with event organizers providing them with the ability to host their events within our ecosystem, this allows the organizer to focus on running the event rather then worry about creating a dedicated app and managing the content on it. The team at Unsocial does everything from event creation to real time updates. We come in as a profit centre for events rather then a cost centre, allowing them to leverage the app to create more sponsorship opportunities. With advertising and sponsorship within a mobile phone the ROI is much higher and more measurable versus static billboards, handout’s or lanyards. Plus the app saves money and is environmentally friendly.
Haven’t people been networking at events forever? Why do they need an app?
Networking at events is very dependent on several factors, like who you sit next to, or are having coffee at the same time as you. Basically luck. Small events within the event like Birds of a Feather or speed networking, are all very archaic and old fashioned way’s of doing things and highly inefficient. Then there is the dependency on personality. If you are not one of those outgoing or extroverted people, best of luck! We feel that with advances in mobile technology all these problems can be solved, Unsocial is just such a tool. You can take out all the guesswork, see who is around you, and send them a quick note to arrange a meeting. It is really very easy. Unsocial enables you to efficiently find the right people and then meet them so you can make effective use of your networking time.
You have suffered from negative ratings in App Store’s, as the app is perceived to not work in certain regions. Is this down to a lack of supported events in that country?
When we launched we kept the launch focused to the Bay Area as we wanted people to find each other rather than have a diluted experience of downloading the app but not seeing anyone around. The press however got a hold of the idea and we were overwhelmed by how fast it spread and how many people downloaded the app. Unfortunately not a lot of people read the description that it was available only in the Bay Area and we received a lot of negative comments. Now it is available in 18 cities across the US and London, Singapore and Sau Paulo, so I think we are well on our way. We enter markets when we can support the local business & events, and populate them within our application. We try to enter cities with key event partners.
How are you signing up events, what’s the marketing plan?
We are directly working with big organizations, event hosting and planning companies, venues and companies in the event business to host multiple events. Our plan is to engage companies for multiple events rather then an event at a time.
What next for Unsocial?
Features, fine tuning our feature set, and the user experience is the next step technology initiative at Unsocial. As far as marketing is concerned we want to be recognized as more then just an event app, we want to be recognized as a location based business networking app that allows you to broadcast who you are while at the same time become aware of opportunities around you be it people or events.
You can learn more about Unsocial at http://unsocial.mobi/ or by using the QR Code.