MoveTogether is a mobile app (still in stealth mode) that seeks to make discovering and organizing casual activities as seamless as possible.
“The emphasis is on things you don’t want to put effort into planning rather than events,” said founder Sameh Elamawy in an exclusive interview with VentureBeat. “You aren’t going to send out a formal invitation or make an event on Facebook for all your spare time, but text messaging is sub par in terms of reach. I want to own the free time space. If you have a bit of time to kill, why not own that time by finding something meaningful and fun to do.”
Elamawy gave the examples of grabbing a late launch, going for a walk, or finding someone to watch the game with. Apps and services that seek to bring people together or find fun things to do saturate the market. However, Elemawy said a hole still exists in how people communicate and mobilize for the in-between moments. His goal was to create a product that receded into the background and made it easier to find compelling things to do on-the-fly.
Within the app, users can quickly create an activity with a title, place, location etc… and choose who and how to notify about it. The growing penetration of smartphones means that people increasingly rely on their mobile devices to dictate their social calendars. Elamawy said this also results in a fear of commitment because people prefer to survey all their options and mood in a given moment, rather than schedule something in advance.
“There is a lot of fatigue with social-local-mobile, so it is important to give people utility,” he said. “I want to make it less about the app and more about the interaction people can have as a result. With all these social apps, the app is trying to be a hero and get people to spend all their time engaging with it. I just want the app to fulfill a role for me. Too many people spend too much time in the online world. I want to use the app as a facilitator for offline interaction.”
Social apps often struggle with network effects. For people to start using them, they need a strong network. But to create a strong network, people need to start using them. MoveTogether can functions whether your friends are on it or not. Furthermore, Elamawy said there is a data collection component that could ultimately lead to monetization.
“At end of day, I want to build an activity graph that shows what people do in the offline moments of their lives, and how this ties people together,” he said. “This data is super relevant to understanding consumer habits and their interests. We could use this information to promote related content, products or services that are targeted and offer native activities that could further enrich your experience of the things you like to do.”
Elamawy was inspired to build MoveTogether while studying at Stanford Business School. He found that there were moments everyday he wanted to connect with friends for, but didn’t have a desirable method of doing that. He combined his computer science skills and his understanding of consumer behavior from six years spent at Proctor & Gamble, and set out to create MoveTogether.
It is a case of an entrepreneur creating something to solve his own problem. There are plenty (too many) social apps out there, such as HangTime and Highlight, but none that Elamawy actually wanted to use. MoveTogether will officially launch in the next few months, and early beta testing has yielded some interesting insights.
“The root of this is that I am capturing all these social behaviors and spending time to figure them out,” he said. “I am designing a product to match all these things.
May your Wednesday nights never be lonely again.
More: MobileBeat 2016 is focused on the paradigm shift from apps to AI, messaging, and chatbots. Don't miss this opportunity: July 12 and 13 in San Francisco.