Our start-up of the week is Jibbr, a mobile app that is about making it easier for friends to organise things with each other and get together in the real world.
“Whether it’s a booming party or grabbing a cup of coffee with a small group of friends, our research and our own experience has shown it’s a nightmare trying to organise things with your friends on current social channels,” explained Stephen Malone, founder of Jibbr.
“This could be for reasons like things getting lost in the timeline, overlapping conversations in group chats, multiple calls and texts and fragmentation, leading to confusion and no real actionable results.
“If you can relate to any of the above then Jibbr is what you need. Yes, Facebook has events but they tend to get lost within Facebook and only cater to big one-off events and aren’t designed for you and your close group of friends you do things with on a regular basis.
“We want people to spend time with their friends and not waste time on social media and that’s what we built Jibbr for. To help our users plan things with their friends quickly and effectively and go and do it.”
Jibbr is initially targeting the student market within Ireland and the UK.
“This will keep us busy for the next couple of months, after which we look to expand throughout Europe and the US,” explained Malone.
“The opportunity itself is vast, not just in regards to a large user base but also a new online feature we are introducing to Jibbr in the autumn, which will increase our users incremental value whilst also making Jibbr a revenue-generating product.
“I can say that right now Jibbr allows you to organise things with friends easily, but wouldn’t it be great to be able to also discover cool things to do with friends on top of that organisational functionality?”
Malone began studying for an undergraduate degree but soon realised it was not for him and he decided to pursue a career in the technology industry.
“I entered a development agency where my initial role was data entry and Q/A . Over a period of four years, I was able to enhance my skills and began working on higher-end projects as a business development and product guy.
“I worked on various projects ranging from credit control software to mobile loyalty platforms. From there I moved on to a digital development agency, which specialises in digital marketing, web and mobile applications.
“Soon after the idea of Jibbr was born and I felt I had gathered enough experience and knowledge to pursue it, so I did and fortunately I was able to get a few people onboard to join me in the venture.”
Jibbr is available on iOS and Android app stores. Jibbr users must register by entering their mobile number and they are then sent a pin to confirm the mobile number and for the enablement of a key feature within the app, after which they complete their profile.
“From there it’s straight to business. We provide users with a streamlined walk-through of how they can best utilise Jibbr. A user can create an activity and add all the relevant details, describe what they want to do, add a time, add a place and then they can send it to anybody in their contacts list or to a pre-created group of friends.
“If contacts selected aren’t on Jibbr they will receive an SMS from that user informing them that they would like to do said activity with them and link them to download the app – from there when they register the activity will waiting for them.
“Users who are invited to the activity can then discuss the proposed activity as a group within Jibbr where we keep the activity as the focal point so the conversation flows around the proposed activity and does not get sidetracked – this is designed to enhance the user experience and maximise productivity.
“After they flesh out the details users can opt-in and confirm they are up for taking part. We then notify all users before their activity is about to begin so they don’t forget.
“That is Jibbr’s core offering and of course we have a few nice features to complement it.”
Malone says the ultimate goal is to make Jibbr the go-to app to make plans with friends.
“We’re starting in Ireland and the UK initially but after that we don’t see any reason why we can’t go further and develop a footprint in other international markets.”
User engagement is everything
Jibbr soft-launched six weeks ago and has been testing various user acquisition methods.
“Being a new app our focus is to increase engagement levels of our early users by looking at our data and making the adjustments the users want, currently we are seeing roughly 40pc of our users engaging within the app on a weekly basis and 71.6pc of new users immediately creating content and sending it to their friends, which we are really happy about.”
He said the main focus now is preparing for the college season resuming and launching various campaigns around that.
“Of course, we would never shy away from any potential investment. Right now we are bootstrapping but plan to look for investment in the near future.”
‘Research the market as much as you can and get as much feedback as possible; the feedback I found most valuable was outside of my own social circle as it was truthful and not hindered by feelings’
– STEPHEN MALONE
The main challenge, he admits, is persuading students why Jibbr is a better solution to the current technology they use.
“Regarding user adoption and engagement, even though our initial stats are positive I believe in any tech start-up this area requires a lot of attention to detail to be maintained and improved upon.
“I know there are plenty more challenges ahead, such as deploying in foreign markets and figuring out whether the same user acquisition methods work or not and adapting to that. I’m sure there will be a few surprises along the way and potentially there will be some healthy competition.
“We have a good team with a variety of different skillsets and experience. So we are looking forward to what lies ahead.”
The start-up experience: learning to fly
Malone describes the current Dublin start-up scene as full of opportunity with a range of incubator and accelerator programmes on offer.
“But it’s still quite a small community, which is great because it allows you to potentially meet individuals who have a vast amount of experience within the tech industry, which can be a great help in terms of feedback and support.
“I have also met some overseas start-ups that have set up here in Ireland, which I believe is a testament to how strong the start-up community is. Also, when you have Facebook, Google, Salesforce and some of the tech giants located here it really adds to the community and showcases the abundance of talent available.”
Malone said getting his start-up off the ground was the hardest part.
“Putting in the hours outside of work was really difficult at times as I ended up sacrificing time I would normally spend with friends and family. It may take time for things to come to fruition and require a lot of hard work and sacrifices but I would urge any self-starter to stick at it. At the end of the day if your idea is good enough and you work hard at it, things will take shape.
“Research the market as much as you can and get as much feedback as possible; the feedback I found most valuable was outside of my own social circle as it was truthful and not hindered by feelings.
“One thing that helped me was building a simple wireframe prototype so I could get a feel for the product and also it was a great way to showcase it to everyone on a friendly feedback level but also on a business level.
“My last bit of advice may only be applicable to mobile apps but I would recommend launching as soon as you have a minimal viable product. We made the mistake of holding up our beta launch for two months as we decided to add a few nice features, but the core of the product was ready and the added features were great features but not essential.
“The main setback from this apart from the time lost was the loss of data we could have gathered over that two-month period and made the necessary fixes and tweaks the data allowed us to identify, rather than wait two months to do so.”
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