Muffin makes planning that college friends’ reunion simpler and fasterSindhu Kashyap
This app acts as a one-stop-shop for all your event planning needs: recommendations, polls, expense management, and even photo sharing.
Four friends—Kshitij Kulkarni, Amol Potnis, Akshay Potnis, Ashish Modak—went on a trip to Lonavala. At the end of the day, they dropped by a nearby café to relax. Their trip organiser, Niki, was completely exhausted. She had got them together, dealt with their idiosyncrasies, helped them converge on a date, time and place. Above all, she also had to track expenses.
The next task for Niki was to make sure that settlements happened soon and everybody got the photographs of the trip. The four friends realised that as initiators or organisers, at some point, they all had felt the same level of exhaustion.
While meeting friends was fun, why did the process have to be chaotic and painful? Couldn’t technology help? What they came up with was the idea of Muffin, a group event planning and execution app that allows one to seamlessly organise events within a group of friends. They launched its platform in September last year.
Working along the layers like a muffin
“Why Muffin? Simply because, we were eating muffins when the idea struck us,” adds Kshitij.
Kshitij has over 14 years of experience and has worked in functional areas of management consulting, strategy, sales, marketing, product management, pre-sales, customer support in the US and India. Amol has over 18 years of experience in product building.
Akshay is currently pursuing Master's in Information with a specialisation in Human-Computer Interaction at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He was an intern at YouTube as user experience designer.
Ashish is a full-stack developer with four years of experience. Harish Jambhale has over 10 years of experience, seven of which have been spent in the app world.
Muffin is on Android and iOS and has over 21,000 registered users. It claims to have over 9,500 events started on its platform. Kshitij adds that each initiator invites more than seven new users to Muffin. Anyone can start a new event and invite people from the contact list.
The platform gives its users the option of getting recommendations and deals on various events like trips, birthday parties, treks, farewells and reunions. There is an option of polls that cuts through the hassle of deciding on destinations, venues, teams, and everything that needs a group consensus.
Muffin also gives the user the option of splitting expenses with ease. It optimises transactions, sends reminders, and splits the cost evenly on the basis of contributions made. The app allows you to share photos before or after the event, trip, or trek.
People can also interact in the context of the photos. They can mark some photos as favorites to revisit them later. They can also download the ones they want in the best quality. While this saves space on the mobile devices, they can also share the photos on other platforms.
Building the product
“To make life easier, Muffin, in a few cities, provides some event related tie-ups that not only add convenience but also help you save money. In short, Muffin gives your real-life events a destination in the digital world. It makes your event planning and execution super fun,” adds Kshitij.
The main tie-ups of Muffin are with service providers who are required during events such as party planners, cake shops, photographers, transport, and so on.
With Muffin, the team is bringing event related features and resources together. The initial worry was around the user experience—will it become bulky and complex to use? To check on this they picked a segment of their customer base—young millennials—and kept them involved in the process of specifications, work flows, UI elements, colours, icons, and end user testing.
However, Muffin, wanted to reach over 10,000 users as they believed that base would validate the MVP. But the main challenge was the budget constraint. In order to get to the target base, they worked with a few college evangelists, who promoted Muffin and also gave the team the required feedback.
The space of social planning
“With their help, we could reach to lots of collegians and hence could prove out our MVP. We also had our booths in various college events in Pune, Mumbai, and Nashik and we got an overwhelming response from youngsters,” adds Kshitij.
Whatsapp groups, Splitwise, and Evernote have been synonymous for any party, social gathering, or even a reunion planning. The world of social planning is big—even Microsoft has ventured in this space with a new iMessage app, Who’s In. The app aims to help friends and colleagues plan outings and events—movies, dinner dates, and trips. It was launched in the US in April.
Speaking of their future plans, Kshitij says, “Muffin wants its users to go out more. Keeping its focus on events, Muffin will now connect friends of similar interest and bring them interesting events from their cities.”
“Muffin will also bring in more resources and offers to help plan the events easily. It will keep adding more features in chat, poll, expenses, and memories to make it more useful for event planning and execution,” adds Kshitij.