When COVID-19 hit us earlier last year, overnight changes happened across the globe. Technology had its own demands to meet as well. While on one hand, the world was hankering for online collaboration solutions, on the other, people realized that they do not have digital ways to connect nearby. Social media and communities have been around, but they are ever so important now.
WhatsApp existed, but people couldn’t connect with the neighbourhood grocery store through that. The problem was not just about not having the store’s mobile number. However, the problem was about not being able to store multiple such numbers. Facebook existed, but it connected more with friends across the globe than with neighbours across the street. Google Maps tried introducing features to make it social but it is yet to evolve.
As lockdowns were lifted gradually, the problems remained. Combining social media and communities, felt like the right time now. Problems were varied, and the answers lay in the neighbourhood. Is there someone nearby who can come home and repair my laptop? Is there someone who can sell me organic produce from somewhere nearby? I need to restart my fitness regime, is there a fitness coach nearby? For a singer, are there musicians near me that I can jam with? For a book reader, are there book lovers near me? Neighbourhoods became interesting again for people.
Over to Naren, the founder of the hyperlocal community, IamHere.
None of this was sudden. This was coming. A few years back before IamHere started, we did an extensive market survey with people across cities and across social strata. We asked them what was the biggest problem they faced in their everyday lives. 8/10 problems that people said had something to do with location. From not being able to find like-minded people nearby to pursue hobbies together, there are many. From not knowing about promotions around, to not knowing about events or NGOs doing good work in communities. Most problems were around discovery and collaboration in neighbourhoods. And this is what guided us towards the idea of what today has become IamHere. Hence, the answer was, an amalgamation of social media and communities, for a greater good even.
As we set about solving the problem of neighbourhood discovery, we figured out that social problems needed to be solved the social way. While connecting people through chats from a map-led discovery, our users wanted collaboration. Hence, we allowed them to create stories. Our users wanted to meet up, so we allowed them to create events. Our users wanted to buy and sell seamlessly, so we are launching a marketplace on the app shortly. Local news, local jobs, and more, they are all coming soon. We have already expanded to 10 cities across the country and we will soon cross 1 million users on the IamHere platform.
What sets us apart is the fact that we are able to provide our users with a single place to discover and connect “nearby”. In fact, this could be across the door within the apartment, across the street within the neighbourhood, across the aisle at the workplace, the applications are endless. IamHere integrates “public” and “private” networks together through secure inter-community and intra-community models. We provide the ability for users to discover people on the map for a hobby, business and social causes. IamHere has positioned itself to tap the disruption in the hyperlocal market, the social way.
As a hyperlocal community platform for social collaboration, local commerce and citizen engagement, IamHere is digitizing neighbourhoods and communities – all of it, through an AI-powered location-first social network.
Some of the accolades that IamHere has won include:
- Government of India’s AatmaNirbhar App challenge
- Government of Karnataka’s Elevate grants,
- Recognition from Economic Times, AsiaOne and Financial Express and,
- Being rated in the Top 10 social apps in the country
Well, talk about social media and communities, and I am here is definitely moving in the right direction. As IamHere gradually expand in the Indian market and reach a position of strength, they will be ready to take on the global market in a couple of years from now. As Brian Acton says “If you build for India, you build for the world”. He sure has a point having built WhatsApp and now Signal!