Tech City: Social discovery app helps you find your friends
- Credit: FREELANCE
Tech City is the third largest technology hub in the world, and it’s right on our doorstep. Each week, we bring you news from the thriving area around Old Street roundabout. This week, Sophie Inge speaks to one of the founders of the social discovery app Sup, just two weeks after its launch
In March, Rich Pleeth took a leap of faith when he quit his job as chief marketing officer for GetTaxi to start his own app.
Drawing from his own experience of working for the Uber competitor, the former Google employee has created a social discovery app that alerts people when their friends are nearby.
“When I was working for other companies, I was often in a different city – so I’d always check in on Facebook, hoping that one of my friends would be nearby,” says Mr Pleeth, 30.
“Sometimes a friend would say: ‘Oh, I’m just down the road’, but I’d usually get the message two hours or two days later – it was never instant.”
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With apps like Find My Friends already on the market, the idea of locating nearby friends is nothing new. The difference with his new app – called Sup – is that Mr Pleeth claims it is stalker-proof.
“You can only see people on a radar – not on a map – and can’t tell whether they are north, east, south or west,” he explains. “So, hopefully, it eradicates stalking. The possibility of attracting stalkers is why these kind of apps have failed in the past.”
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The principle of the app, he says, is simple: “To create a seamless, beautiful experience for people to see their friends more.”
Once users have seen that their friend is nearby, they can tap on their friend’s profile picture and send either a Sup, Voice Sup or text asking to meet up with them. Alternatively, if you’re feeling shy you can choose to “go dark” so that you don’t appear on the radar.
Launched just two weeks ago with co-founders Robin Gadsby, 42, and Al Fayolle, 39, the app is already off to a promising start.
An impressive list of investors, including the Innocent drinks founders through their JamJar fund, have backed it to the tune of $1.1million.
But it hasn’t been easy.
“It was terrifying quitting my job and not knowing what I was going to do on Monday morning,” says Mr Pleeth.
But as he soon found out, fundraising for the app became a full-time job.
“I was having breakfast meetings, meetings between breakfast and lunch, lunch meetings, afternoon meetings, dinners, then networking drinks. I had to break up with my girlfriend. That’s what a start-up is – it really takes over your life.”
His friends were mostly supportive of his business venture, he says, and a few assumed he’d become rich overnight.
“Lots of people look at start-ups with rose-tinted glasses, thinking you’re going to be the next unicorn and make a billion dollars.
“The reality is that very few start-ups actually get funded in the beginning, and very few are successful.”
To add to the pressure, the team knew some people thought they’d never make it.
“Sometimes, you get emails where people have accidentally CC-ed you, saying: ‘Terrible idea, but nice guy.’ And you think ‘Well, I don’t think I’m supposed to be reading this, but thanks’.”
The key to having a good chance of success, says Mr Pleeth, is never doubting your idea will succeed.
“No one is going to believe in your idea as much as you do, and you just have to keep up the
momentum and enthusiasm whenever you go into an investor meeting.”
He also advises going to as many network events and tech meet-ups as possible.
“You never know, you might bump into that one person who says: ‘Oh, that’s a great idea – I’m going to introduce you to my friend X, who has a million-dollar fund and will want to invest.’”
Based in a co-working space in the heart of Tech City, the team is comprised of the three founders, three developers and a chief technology officer. There is also a community manager based in the US.
It’s still early days, but there are plans for a big marketing campaign in the coming months.
Meanwhile, the team is developing the app for iPhone 6S and the Apple watch.
You can download the app from supme.co. To find out more about the app visit supmenow.com.