It’s not the first time the idea of a popularity / power based app has been floated (Klout, anyone?), but this time, says Ales Zivkovic founder of social networking and scoring app YAC, it’s personal.
Zivkovic, the archetypal million-miles-an-hour startup founder, became exhausted running around London to a succession of meetings as he tried to find backers for his other startup project (a medical health TV channel that is big in his native Slovenia and across Eastern Europe) only to discover that the person he was meeting was about as much use to him as a chocolate teapot.
It was at this point that he and his brother came up with the idea for YAC. “I needed an app that would tell me who the people around me are”, says Zivkovic, boiling over with frustration.
How often does it happen…you’ve just been sat next to the one guy or girl who can make a difference to your startup at a coffee shop or on the train or tube, but you didn’t know?
“You have all the apps in the world to help you meet people but you do not have one app that will help you meet the person standing next to you”, says Zivkovic.
He goes on to suggest that social interactions have not really changed much from generation to generation; the only thing that has changed is how you meet people.
Whereas 20 years ago you’d run the gauntlet of being socially shamed when the person you approach; to flirt with, talk business to, or try to widen your social circle; does not want to give you the time of day, today, Zivkovic argues, with modern tech you should simply be able to “take your YAC app out and no one needs to know anything except the two of you.” It is, he says, the modern day equivalent of scrawling a note on a napkin.
Or think of it as X-Ray vision at a masquerade ball. “We are hanging around in clubs and parties much the same way as our parents did. It is time that tech changes this.”
Who doesn’t like the idea of sparing themselves a loss of face? “YAC is focused on real time and real life, rather than chatting between people that are miles apart”, Zivkovic explains.
YAC uses a clever algorithm that tracks a user’s social engagement with other people, and computes them a personal social rating.
“It will be a sort of popularity score/count of how much people notice you. The rating will be relative to other people in the space, so the app will actually compute a rating you have compared to others and show you where you rank in space. You will be able to see the most and the least popular person in the club”, says Zivkovic.
“Be it social or business, YAC can help you decide who you want to approach, and who you might want to ignore.”
Another useful feature the app has, thanks to the exhaustive R&D the founders have invested into developing YAC, is that it can work without needing to be connected to the internet.
“Not only will you be able to use it on the underground and planes, but also when you travel abroad and don’t have roaming, or at a festival, or wherever and whenever you are out partying or networking.”
“You may or may not have roaming turned on. With YAC that will not matter because you will always be able to see the people in your immediate proximity and interact with them – even chat”, Zivkovic says.
Are you sold yet? Doubtless YAC will split opinion – do I want people to know I haven’t interacted with anybody yet today? Do I want random strangers approaching me with their business ideas or trying to hang out with me to bask in my social cachet?
Some will, others won’t. Let’s be honest, if everyone is thinking it (how popular / influential is this person really?), you may as have a device that tries to compute it. More likely than not, it’s preferable to asking your mates.
Now that the app has been fully developed it’s ready for launch, say the brothers; they plan to test it on the party loving Croatian island of Hvar, a place Ales says is “practically up there with Ibiza when it comes to party scene. It is one of the most beautiful islands in Europe and has the most sunny days in the Adriatic, and has a special place in my heart because of my Dalmatian roots.”
“We hope to offer all the travellers to Hvar a chance to meet all the people around them as they go out at night and therefore give them that extra experience of this beautiful stretch of Croatian coast.”
Sounds magical, and with a second generation version of the app close to release, which contains features that are “quite astonishing”, according to Zivkovic, the hope is that “Londoners will bring the good news about the app back to London from their vacation on Hvar.”
“Bars, clubs, festivals, events. Everywhere where people interact is where YAC should be revolutionising the old patterns of interaction.”
Are you ready? “We are going to be pitching for funding in the coming months and predominantly looking for investors that have the capacity and the vision to scale this thing with us”
“This is going to ease user’s interactions in real life and will therefore not tear our society further apart, but bring us all closer together”, Zivkovic concludes.
The popular ones anyway. Although the app could have a dual use. Don’t like popular social high fliers? Use it to find wallflowers like yourself, and prop up the bar together.
Let the party commence.