While Kashmira Chawak, Gaurav Srivastava, Aravind Ravi, Harish V., and Satyajit Sahoo were working with Scrollback, there was a lot of discussion and debate among the team on whether a locality-specific app would work. Meanwhile, Gaurav, one of the co-founders, had a crisis in his personal life when his son needed urgent medication. He struggled to find a 24-hour chemist shop in and around his locality and it took frantic calls across family and friends to come to his rescue.
The incident served as a live case study for the team, cementing the idea of the app, which they had been planning for long. It did not take them long to make up their mind about ‘Hey Neighbour’.
Launched in September 2015, Hey Neighbor is a web and mobile app that connects users to their locality. The idea behind the app is to help localities become closed knit communities where people help each other out.
“You could be looking for mid-night coffee, a workout partner or a cook, the app lets you find solutions for all your needs right next door. From finding activity partners to carpooling or shouting out for urgent requirements like blood donors in specific areas, our users have found some unique ways to use the app,” says Kashmira, 30, Co-founder, Hey Neighbor. Prior to this, she worked as a TV journalist and at many MNCs as well
She adds that the platform’s initial spends were made in marketing and product development. In four months’ time, the platform has witnessed a good response from users. It currently has over 25,000 downloads and around 40 per cent of its install base interacts with the app on a daily basis. They are currently present in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Pune.
The platform is experimenting with a few different revenue models. As the platform adopts a hyper local approach, it claims that it is seeing a lot of interest from local businesses. “They want to promote their businesses on this platform. We are also piloting a lead generation model with a few partners and these pilots are running successfully as well,” says Kashmira.
Kashmira says that as a product company with a successful community chat tool (Scrollback) out in the market, the team didn’t want to commit to any new product idea immediately. The platform’s first version of the app was just an Android wrap of the Scrollback website. Only after observing the user’s activity for a month, she decided to take the product to the next level. This method has helped to understand the user behavior and needs before building features for the product.
“Now with 70 per cent month-on-month for the last four months, the biggest challenge is to continue the momentum and quality of the platform, while the community on Hey Neighbor grows,” she claims.
According to a rough estimate, neighborhood community model is valued at over $1 billion. However, experts think neighborhood communities are underserved as a category in India and is gradually witnessing the influx of interest entrepreneurs in the segment. “I think it’s the right time to plunge into that market and tap this opportunity,” says Kashmira.
LurnQ, an open community for learning and sharing knowledge; Touchtalent, a social network for creative folks; Imlee, a social network for your family and relatives; and Hammer, a social network to share opinions, among others, are some of the social network apps.
On competition, Kashmira says that, recently there has been tremendous interest in the domain with a flurry of startups focussing on building the local social network. “We are taking a community-first approach to build the neighborhood network. Today, Hey Neighbor sees over 1,000 daily discussions, many of which are queries which others users are helping resolve. The community-driven peer-to-peer support that we are experiencing on our platform is tremendously exciting. We are working on some out of the box online and offline marketing strategies and partnerships for customer acquisition.”