It doesn’t want to be just another lunch or dating app, but also facilitate business-focussed and other interest events
There is no shortage of social apps designed to spark connections between strangers. On one side, there is Tinder and Paktor — and more — where folks can find their better half or a warm body for the night. On the other side, there is Lunch Kaki, an avenue for people with more chaste intentions, such as building platonic relationships with like-minded people.
The point is, with the plethora of such apps craving for user attention, it would seem that the market is too saturated to accommodate another competitor. But for Erik Lorenz, founder of new Singapore-based social app HeyMeet, there is still untapped opportunity to be exploited — and that market consists of busy executives who wish to network or join interest groups.
As the global head of sales and marketing for Sportradar AG at his previous job, Lorenz was required to travel frequently. During those overseas trips, he often found himself in a bind when it came to finding strangers to have coffee or dinner with — and without any ulterior motives.
“At the end of 2015, I quit the corporate life and started on my own projects, the main one being HeyMeet to bring that idea of meeting people spontaneously to life. I realised that business travelers are difficult to target because they are so mobile and you need a critical mass,” says Lorenz, in an interview with e27.
HeyMeet, he says, is quite different from all the aforementioned social meet-up apps. For one thing, it doesn’t just want to get people to have lunch together. Rather, it also wants to offer other activities, such as group drinks and run community groups such as entrepreneurship-focussed ones.
Upon sign-up through LinkedIn or Facebook, users build their profiles by listing their occupation, age, and personality traits.
They can then create an event, select the activity (food, coffee or drinks), desired age range and industries of their participants, and location. These choice of filters is an indicator of HeyMeet’s casual-yet-agenda-driven approach towards meet ups: Participants are expected to be of a certain calibre, and they have to bring some level of expertise to the table, not just idle chit chat.
Lorenz is quick to point out, though, that “the app is not meant for you to meet your next business partner, but more to meet people and have beneficial discourses, while keeping an open mind to where it might lead to.”
The ideology of HeyMeet is still anchored upon spontaneity. Each event should have as little planning as possible so people can meet up quickly.
The user-generated events can have a maximum of four participants. Lorenz says four is the optimal number of people to get a “valuable and inclusive conversation” going, not forgetting, it would be much easier to find a big enough table. Events created by HeyMeet itself, however, can support up to 10 people — so it is geared towards executives seeking bigger networking opportunities.
It is difficult to pry off the ‘dating’ tag people attach to social apps, unless it is a strictly-business community platform. But when you are talking about vague “spontaneous meet-ups”, one’s natural instinct is, unfortunately, to check out the cutest person on the list.
“We have to very careful in how we market HeyMeet. This is why we place importance on making sure we are not perceived as a dating app. This is why we focus on creating interesting events for our users, especially at the start, so that users can give the app a try before attending other events on their own,” says Lorenz.
The visual design of the UX plays quite a pivotal role in curating users. For example, dating apps tend to focus on the photos of its users. For HeyMeet, Lorenz says he is working on a design that places emphasis on information such as the user’s job, position, and other pertinent facts as opposed to their profile pictures.
Currently, HeyMeet’s approximately 1,500 users are at the median age of 30 years old — majority of them located in the Singapore CBD area — partly due to the platform’s aforementioned business-focussed filters. Whether or not this user base translate into a hive of vibrant activity is yet to be seen.
Lorenz’s immediate plans for HeyMeet is to build more business-focussed features. For example, he plans to make it mandatory for users to include their industries in their profile. This would qualify them to attend HeyMeet’s business events.
Lorenz is also focussing on growing HeyMeet to become a revenue-generating platform.
“We will be collaborating with co-working spaces to provide access to exclusive networking events — through invitation only via HeyMeet,” he says.
“In the future, our partners can use HeyMeet as an additional channel to communicate and interact with the outside world. But it must always be based on providing added value to our users and not pure sales or marketing purpose. We have also ideas how we can develop HeyMeet into a valuable internal tool for corporates which might open up another monetisation channel,” says Lorenz.
Beyond that, HeyMeet will be integrating features that will help conference attendees arrange pre- and after-conference meetings.
“Our way forward is clearly business, and the focus will be to help value add to the people in the business district,” he says.
Image Credit: HeyMeet
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