First, the bad news; many have tried to make location based networking happen (or Happn, perhaps we should say), but few have succeeded – although the likes of Facebook, Snapchat and WhatsApp haven’t even managed to crack it, perhaps it’s these sites’ omnipresence on people’s smartphones that has made location based networking so hard to turn into “a thing”.
Still, the beauty of entrepreneurs is that they never give up and 2 plucky startup founders are on a mission to make sure that PinU, “a mobile app that helps you discover when your friends are around so that you never miss out again”, doesn’t, ahem, miss out.
PinU was founded by CEO Haris Adu, and CTO Ricardo Mighty, who met whilst studying at the Royal Holloway University in Surrey, and have been firm friends ever since.
Both are business and technology enthusiasts, but Haris says he had to persuade Ricardo to quit his full-time job and help him launch PinU.
Haris’ Eureka moment had come about when he had returned to London from university for the weekend to visit family, and had decided to go shopping for clothes in Regent Street.
Upon his return, he checked social media only to discover that a close friend had also been in Regent Street at the same time as he was. His frustration was compounded by the fact that his friend had recently enlisted in the army, and the chance to “bump into him” again would not be possible for at least another 2 years as his friend had been posted abroad.
“On average”, says Haris, “over 70% of people in western countries have super computers in their pockets and yet we still are completely unaware that people we know are nearby.”
He’s not wrong. Location based networking has stubbornly refused to take off – until now, perhaps?
PinU has been christened “the app reconnecting busy millennials without compromising their privacy”, by its founders, which should mitigate any concerns users have about being spotted where they are not supposed to be, by people they don’t want to see.
“PinU is for people you care about, not strangers” says Haris.
“We’re all busy and have goals and have aspirations that we’re trying to achieve in life but the only thing that matters, is connecting with the people that we care about on a more regular basis and PinU helps us do that.”
The PinU app, available for download from the Apple Store, has been designed and developed in London, where it was in open beta until late 2015, but is now ready to launch in both London and Dubai.
Haris told the Haggerston Times that PinU “is the only app in the world that lets you find out when your friends are around without compromising your privacy – we display your general location only when you’re nearby, to your friends, and you have the ability to pause your location being shared at any time, in case you’re occupied.”
As mentioned, there have been some high-profile failures in this space before. Sup was one that achieved a certain level of fame around London, not least for its guerrilla marketing tactics that earned it a telling off from an East London council (for spray-painting its logo on pavements) and dating app Happn, which despite some early promise, seems to died a death.
Still, the PinU guys have high hopes for the future, saying that they want to make “missed connections a thing of the past”, and that their vision extends far beyond “creating the world’s best meetup app.”
“We are building the go to platform for the people you care about and all things happening in your local area in real time”, they say.
Somebody will do it, so why shouldn’t it be Haris Adu and Ricardo Mighty?
The HT reached out to PinU for details about traction and downloads to date and was told that they are growing at a rate of 10% a week and have bootstrapped the startup with their savings but intend to raise a seed round later this year.
Here’s hoping the HT has just broken yet another exclusive – bear us in mind when you IPO, chaps!