02 November 2016 12:16:55 IST

A network that connects campuses

Imeyou “feeds on needs” to enable students help one another

How many online social networks do you belong to? Just one? Four, six, eight? I posed this question on Twitter some time back and most people averaged four — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Quora and Tumblr proving to be popular choices. Some belonged to as many as eight networks, though they visited only two regularly.

Social networks are already a pretty crowded place and the inevitable consolidation has started. Rumours of Twitter’s sale keep popping up ever so often, for instance. The microblogging network’s recent decision to shut down looping video app Vine sparked off another round of sale rumours. And yet, that’s not deterring new players from entering the field.

Fresh talent

Globally, a new network called Imzy — founded on, believe it not, values of kindness — has just launched. Imzy was founded by former executives from Reddit and Twitter and is backed by a funding of $8 million from Index Ventures.

Closer home, there’s imeyou.io — a location-based social network that “feeds on needs”, and launched by Vartika Manasvi, a former product and marketing manager with mCarbon Tech Innovation.

Imeyou stands for Instant Me to You Connect and, to begin with, Vartika is networking colleges and universities, trying to create a community of students who will help each other. “We are talking to top colleges,” says Vartika pointing out how a network with a conversational interface can help students. For instance, a student from IIT can virtually travel into the neighbourhood of an IIM and type in a request asking for tips on how to get in. Or request for study material.

Standing out

But similar requests are often posed on Twitter or Facebook — so how is Vartika’s bootstrapped social start-up different? She says that both Facebook and Twitter are follower-dependent whereas her network is location dependent. Anybody in the location where a need is posted can see it.

But there is Facebook Groups, where communities with shared interests or needs get together and post their requests. Take, for instance, the community Adopt a Pet, where someone wanting a pet can find one. But Vartika counters that discovery may be difficult as there are over 600 million Facebook Groups, whereas her niche network is more targeted thanks to the geo-location fix.

But why would people go out of their way to help strangers? Vartika says the network is oriented towards millennials who seek added value from social networks and have a sharing mindset. Of course, you can also promise rewards — either monetary or a barter of some kind.

Location based

The network is in beta mode currently with 600 odd users, but has already fulfilled some interesting needs, says Vartika. For instance, a volunteer from Spain who was in Satara and wanted to get a Hindi book on autism translated to English typed in her request and found someone to do so on the network.

Despite being location-based, Imeyou currently only has a web offering, where you need to key in your location. Vartika says this was a conscious decision as a mobile app will stick only if the community is strong. “We are working towards that kind of content to make users come on to the platform often,” she says. Weather and calamity information will soon be woven in.

Admittedly, right now the user experience is not up to expectations because the community logged into it is still small. More the users, higher the chances of getting your needs fulfilled. Facebook started as a college and university network — let’s see where Imeyou travels.