New mobile social network centered on locations makes regional debut
In process of raising multimillion-dollar Series A round of funding for expansion
A NEW mobile social network hopes to be the hot new destination for social explorers to share, connect and talk about their favorite places.
Start-up Placety, which made its market debut on April 15, was founded by a small team of German- and Chinese-born mobile and web entrepreneurs with a mission to “help people make sense of the world we live in.”
“We created Placety to be the easiest and best way to answer the simple question: What’s around me?” said Ulf Waschbusch (pic), founder and chief executive officer of Placety Pte Ltd, in an email interview with Digital News Asia (DNA).
Waschbusch said that the idea for the mobile platform actually grew over a long time, based on past experiences working for larger technology brands.
“When I was heading MySpace's mobile team and launching fully built social networks to seven different mobile platforms, it became obvious that there are good solutions connecting people with each other, but there was a missing (link) connecting the other building blocks of our society -- the places we live in,” he said.
“At my previous job launching Google Search products for mobile, it was obvious that Google has an immense catalog of knowledge and wisdom, but there isn't a good way to answer the simple question of 'What is here?' You can type 'cafe beverly hills' and get results, but there is no 'what are the cool things around me?'."
According to him, these experiences combined led to the mission of bringing a full social experience together with the discovery and sharing of places and place knowledge.
Building the place
The app has been in development for almost a year now by a small team out of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Singapore and Istanbul.
“We build Placety from the ground up to make it easy to discover Places and share your knowledge with others,” said Waschbusch.
According to him, Placety is a full social network that allows users to follow Places, People or Collections of Places and share them with friends and the rest of the world on the platform or via Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo or email.
“You can message others, upload your own photos, have your user profile page and even compete with others on who created the most exciting Places,” he added.
In addition, Placety is touted as more than a discovery app to find, create and share exciting new Places.
“Every user and every Place has what we call a pNumber. A pNumber is your score for ‘how well’ you are doing. If people like your Places, photos or comments, your score will go up. Similarly if your Places prove popular, their score and hence your personal score will go up as well,” Waschbusch said.
He said that past experiences at Garena and SGN showed how important gamification elements and a bit of fun were in the use of products, hence the incorporation of the pNumber system.
“Our pNumber system rewards users with higher points if they are positive participants in the Placety community via the creation of good places, good comments or photos that other people like and where users can compare their scores with others in our leaderboards,” he said.
When asked about its competitors, Waschbusch said that if the market was broadened to include all discovery of places, it becomes a tremendously huge market with lots of good players in it, from international players like Yelp and Foursquare or Google Places to niche apps like HungryGoWhere.
However he added that a few key points make the Placety offering unique; for example, on the network, a Place can be anything that other users see as relevant: It can be a cafe or restaurant, but it can also be a park or the perfect spot to shoot a wedding photo -- or the park bench that a famous author used to sit on.
“More than any of the other players, Placety is a full social networking experience with user profile pages; the ability to message others and ask them about Places; the integration with Facebook, Twitter and Sina Weibo for sharing; the ability to leave audio notes rather than just typing on comments and thus make them come alive; a newsfeed that keeps you updated on the people or places you care about; and the pNumber system where every user and every Place has a rating, thus ensuring quality throughout the system,” he said.
Open for business
Placety made it to its launch in South-East Asia thanks largely to the enormous response the team has received from interested users and beta testers throughout the development process, after a small beta program conducted over the last few months.
The app is available for free on the App Store as a native iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad application or via the website in English, Chinese and German.
Waschbusch said the app would be launched in more markets in Asia and Oceania, Europe and the Americas over the coming days and weeks, and is expecting worldwide availability by month’s end.
Waschbusch also shared that the team has been bootstrapping the company over the past 12 months with support from friends and family, and is in the process of raising a multimillion-dollar Series A round in the coming weeks.
“Besides launching worldwide, listening to our user feedback and updating the app, the next 12 months will see us staff up and launch versions for Android, the web and other platforms,” he added.
When asked what keeps himself and the Placety team motivated, Waschbusch said it was actually quite simple.
“We truly believe in the product. We truly believe in the power it can have to answer questions that haven't been able to be answered efficiently now, and we believe that Placety can make a difference to people,” he said.
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