Zenly proves that location sharing isn’t lifeless
Now that you’re giving up on verify-ins and sharing your location with your mates, a French startup is arising with higher know-how and new use instances to make location cool once more. Zenly has been quietly engaged on location for years, and youngsters at the moment are getting hooked on this app. SoLoMo is again.
Zenly couldn’t be extra simple. If you open the app, you see an enormous map together with your location and your mates’ location. You possibly can faucet on a pal’s image and see precisely the place they’re. Or you possibly can simply aimlessly swap via your mates and leap across the map. That is Zenly’s core function.
Once I first heard about this pitch, I wasn’t satisfied by the thought. What should you might share your location together with your shut family and friends? This query doesn’t sound compelling in any respect. It sounds so much like Apple’s Discover My Buddies, a bit like Foursquare, and it’s additionally very harking back to dozens of failed startups (R.I.P. Sam Altman’s Loopt, Gowalla, BrightKite, Spotlight…).
And I’ve additionally by no means been a fan of fixed location sharing. First, I care about my privateness. Second, background location apps kill my telephone’s battery. Third, why would I even use one thing like this anyway?
However I gave it a critical shot and appreciated it quite a bit. Zenly is a nicely-designed, addictive app. I are likely to open it once in a while simply because it’s so totally different from the whole lot on the market. This isn’t one other messaging app. This isn’t a social community. This isn’t a utility. It’s one thing that sits between all of those areas. And I maintain opening the app.
And it begins with the situation know-how. Zenly has a rock-strong, environment friendly but correct location algorithm. The app tries to determine the precise tackle of your folks. In my expertise, with a couple of exceptions, Zenly has been correct and displayed my associates’ house handle for instance.
On the similar time, Zenly doesn’t kill your battery. I’ve been opening the app recurrently, and but it wasn’t even within the prime 10 of largest battery killers for the previous 7 days — it has eaten up three % of my battery.
Behind the scene, Zenly tries to save lots of as a lot battery as attainable. For example, the app doesn’t monitor your location when no one needs to see it. If a good friend opens the app, then Zenly will request your location. However throughout a lot of the day, Zenly doesn’t do a lot.
After which, the app is filled with little particulars that make it a cultured expertise. For example, you’ll be able to see the battery degree of your mates. This might be helpful when you’re questioning why somebody isn’t answering your textual content messages, as an example.
If you wish to share your location with somebody for just some hours, you possibly can ship them a hyperlink to allow them to monitor you on a map of their browser. This might be helpful if your folks don’t have Zenly otherwise you’re simply making an attempt to satisfy up with somebody who’s promoting you a motorcycle on Craigslist.
However location sharing isn’t for everybody. I’m already snug with it provided that I’ve been checking in on Foursquare after which Swarm for years. However lots of my buddies are nonetheless reluctant. You’ll be able to select to solely share your present metropolis with a few of your mates. Or you’ll be able to even briefly disguise your location for your whole associates or simply a few of them.
I might go even additional and say that it’s not likely a problem. For those who don’t need to share your location, don’t use Zenly. It’s all the level of the app and no one is forcing you to put in it.
However even with this type of friction relating to privateness, Zenly has taken off for no obvious cause. The startup has been engaged on constructing a killer product earlier than sharing it with the world. Whereas the app has been out there within the App Retailer and Play Retailer for a yr and 4 months, the startup has acted kind of like a stealth startup.
Yesterday, I went to the Zenly workplace and appeared on the metrics dashboard. Zenly is about to hit 1 million registered customers. There at the moment are round 340,000 month-to-month lively customers and round eighty,000 day by day lively customers. And these numbers are rising quickly. Not dangerous for a startup that hasn’t targeted on progress but.
Who’re these customers? Youngsters. The app has been spreading round some excessive faculties and center faculties like loopy. Some customers add dozens of pals in just some days. They usually hold taking a look at what their associates have been doing, in the event that they’re hanging out collectively, if there’s a celebration occurring on Friday night time. Perhaps a few of them have a crush on one other Zenly consumer, whereas others are simply bored.
That’s why the corporate has lately raised an $eleven.2 million Collection A spherical (€10 million) with Idinvest and Xavier Niel main the spherical and different buyers additionally collaborating, reminiscent of Kima Ventures, Solomon Hykes, Tony Jamous, Damien Morin, Edward Bouygues, Maxime Prades, Olivier Thomas, Romain Cottard and Bastien Cadeac.
It’s clear now that Zenly has cracked the code of seamless location sharing know-how. Now, there are two critical challenges forward for the startup.
Like different social apps, Zenly must turn into as sticky as potential for present customers. For those who don’t open the app each different day, you’re going to overlook about it. The startup has a number of concepts on this entrance. Second, Zenly must discover a option to continue to grow in order that it turns into vital. Having three buddies on Zenly is cool. However having twenty pals makes it far more fascinating.
Now that Zenly has nailed down the core function (location sharing), the startup can add social layers on prime of it. Just lately, the corporate added emojis, so you’ll be able to ping your mates with symbols. For example, I’ve been sending emojis to say that I’m on my approach or that I’m operating late. I’ve additionally used this function to ping lengthy-distance pals and say hello. And, let’s be trustworthy, I’ve additionally used it as a joke to spam my buddies with emojis.
Extra apparent, you’ll be able to faucet the meet button and begin an itinerary in Maps, Citymapper or Uber. In case your pal just isn’t that far, you need to use Zenly as a compass. It could possibly be helpful when you acquired misplaced at a music pageant for instance.
These are just a few examples of social options that make sense if you mix them with a map. Zenly doesn’t need to grow to be yet one more messaging app, or yet one more feed-based mostly social community app.
However there’s loads of worth in understanding your mates’ places. In comparison with different shopper apps, customers don’t must be actively posting daily on the app. Sharing your location is already fascinating. And it might Zenly’s most fascinating trick to foster consumer progress.