Mobile app to empower positive actions and safety in neighbourhood communities
Free to use and currently in beta, startup seeking more users to test out platform
CAN an online social platform that seeks to tap into an individual’s desire to help others and the community spark an offline social revolution?
The group behind MyHero, a mobile social network that focuses on community and personal safety, is aiming to do exactly that.
In an interview with Digital News Asia (DNA), MyHero cofounder Chan Wei Chi (pic) said the idea for the project was first conceived after development of a floating button on the screen of Android devices with an emergency distress function. It left the team wanting to do more.
“As we accomplished that goal, we discovered that rather than creating just another app, we wanted to trigger a social network with a strong fundamental cause,” he added.
MyHero is a project under Dino Media Asia, operated by Webvance Sdn Bhd, a venture established in 2012 with the main objectives of developing digital media platforms across the Internet, and incubating new tech-based startups.
According to Chan, the team is made up of young entrepreneurs with diverse experiences, from software engineers to digital marketing and business practitioners.
He said MyHero’s mission is to tackle the issue of personal and public safety using technology, but through “a very different approach – that is, by empowering and encouraging communities to help out when in need.
“We provide a platform and a cause, but the rest lies in the collective effort of the people. Rather than solving an imminent problem, we are motivated to open up an open platform for everybody within a community to interact and solve various issues – from personal safety to broken street lamps,” he added.
Paging the hero within
Chief technology officer Tay Shu Yih (pic) said that the platform has an emphasis on geolocation technology, which allows for greater connectivity among surrounding communities while still maintaining privacy.
The mobile platform builds upon its core feature of offering geolocation-based ‘Groups’ that allows for neighbourhoods to create official groups which members of the community can join.
“Alternatively, users can also create private groups for networking with their loved ones and family,” he added.
Other features offered by MyHero include the option to report various activities or issues – from broken streetlamps, accidents and missing persons, to even praises for good deeds done. The reports can then be viewed from an integrated Google Map that will be refreshed every 24 hours.
The app also comes with an SOS notification feature, which allows for users to send distress signals with GPS co-ordinates to their selected contacts and nearby users. There is also a Safe and Sound feature that allows users to inform their loved ones about their status and whereabouts.
Tay said that there is also a reward system, where users can earn points, which can be redeemed for exclusive avatars that could replace conventional discount vouchers as incentives.
A private angel investor, who also acts as a director and advisor for the venture, currently funds MyHero, which is currently available in beta release on Google Play for Android devices, while the iOS version is in the development pipeline.
Creating a converged community
“We hope that family and friends, neighbourhood watch groups, enforcement agencies and local businesses will converge together [on] the social network and provide networked support throughout the community,” said Aaron Teng, marketing and public relations lead for MyHero.
He said that the MyHero is primarily in the social media and personal safety market, and believes that globally, it has potential access to 50 million users who are active social media users and also concerned with safety and the sharing of vital information.
The MyHero team is currently targeting over 20,000 users globally for the initial stages of its launch, with the product still in its beta phase.
When asked about its business model, Chan said that the application is free to use, as the team’s main focus is on user acquisition at this stage.
“We have interesting digital promotional concepts to help merchants grow – this is currently our primary monetisation strategy. This is seen as a win-win situation as users would get to enjoy free use of our services while merchants would be able to market their services or products directly to users,” he said.
When asked what has been the toughest challenge in building MyHero, Chan pointed to delivering fast results in the ever-changing mobile industry.
“With the industry saturated with various high quality applications, we have to ensure that we meet global standards,” he said.
The team’s plans for the coming months will be on enhancing the product and growing its users, in addition to introducing more complementary products and services to further enhance its goal of creating a safer and converged community.
When asked what the biggest obstacle has been, Teng said that MyHero is a relatively new idea which users are still not accustomed to.
“By far the toughest challenge has been to convince others of our crazy idea in a society which is risk-averse,” he said.
But in such tough situations, and moments of doubt, Teng shared that members of the team always takes a step back and asks themselves, “What would Batman do?”
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