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Go Beyond Known 'Friends' and 'Connections'- Go Local Yakking!

Shyamal Dave
18th Sep 2012
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LoYakk is a social platform that facilitates conversations between people who are sharing the exact experience at the exact moment at any “place”. Conversations can now be based on location rather than prior personal relationships and one can now go beyond known ‘friends’ and ‘followers’. LoYakk, meaning Lo (cal) + Yak (king) = local yakking enables conversations for “places” - anywhere in the world and makes “places” the center of social engagement. Places would be colleges, stadiums, festivals, towns or airports. Each place or venue has a set of channels created by LoYakk based on user feedback. ‘Venues’ and ‘channels’ can also be easily created upon user request.

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, CA, LoYakk was founded by Salim Ali and Jitu Telang. Mid last year (2011) they were trying to solve a (different) problem related to local commerce. In this context and with the objective of understanding consumer behavior, they played the role of social anthropologists trying to understand how our real-life social behavior is mapped to our online social behavior. As they went through the behavior analysis, they came away with an interesting finding: our real-life interactions with people around (who are not our "friends" or known to us) were way more prolific and frequent than with our friends. These interactions were driven by 2 attributes:

  • The location where we were
  • The context around the location i.e. shared experience.
Jitu had significant experience crafting high frequency trading platforms, and developing and managing multi-million trading strategies, and so was keenly aware of the requirements for building large scale real-time response systems. They had to balance a very complex backend and platform with a very simple and easy to use Mobile app. One of the first talents they brought on board was Chief Architect - Jaijiv Prabhakaran who had built eTrade's award winning option trading platform.

With LoYakk, users can also “go” to any venue anywhere in the world and converse with people at a remote college, city, game or conference. It is now as easy talking to someone just a short distance away from you in a public location as it is to cruise the world and chat with someone across the planet.

This shared experience could be at a game, music festival, college, town, conference etc. Thus the idea for LoYakk was born to enable and scale this need for casual conversation with people sharing the same experience - without any requirement of prior friendships. i.e. if you are at a cricket game then don't just chat up with the fan next to you, converse with any fan anywhere in the stadium, or if you are at an airport, don't limit your "want to share a taxi?" question to the person right next to you in Terminal 1 but publish this to anyone at the airport.

Users do not have to check-in, announce where they are or even register. LoYakk will auto-detect the user’s nearest venue and they can immediately start Yakking. Users can also choose to register and customize their profile. The LoYakk App is currently available on iPhone, Blackberry, and Android phones. Users can also do all of this via the LoYakk web experience as well with the exception that posting via the web requires registration.

From demographic and psychographic perspectives, their users seem to be younger, very socially active, very smartphone and mobile app aware, and from all over the globe. Adoption in India, US, and UK seems to be most prolific.

One of the prime directives they built around the product was to ensure that they could support paying customers from day 1. One of the best features of the App is “custom venue”, wherein they can create custom venues for enterprises for any event or place and host conversations for these venues. These event / venues may be a conference, a sporting event, music festival etc. They already have a paying customer (one of the largest software companies in the world) and they are in discussions with many other mega/global brands.LoYakk has created a privacy policy in order to demonstrate their commitment to customer privacy. Spam, abusive and/or obscene posts will be regulated by the LoYakk User Community and LoYakk.

Within 3 months of launch:

  • Gold Medal Winner at the Race for Apps contest for London Olympic Games 2012
  • Most Useable App at Race for Apps
  • They have thousands of users and conversations
  • They are getting requests from all over the world to add their town/college/complex to LoYakk's venue list.

LoYakk wants to re-imagine the way we converse with people locally - by going beyond known Friends and Followers. They will have to innovate better and execute faster than anyone else in the broader social space if they intend to disrupt quite a few markets. LoYakk aims to make the world a smaller place and has been called “a window to the world”.

Get Yakking with Loyakk! The app has a Page on YourStory Pages!

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