At left: a user’s overview of plans being made in Connectsy; at right: the application’s home screen.
Twitter, Facebook, email, and SMS. Each of these are great tools for making plans with friends. But what about those friends who are ideologically opposed to Facebook, or don’t have a Twitter account? (You know you’ve got at least one.)
Enter Connectsy, a service geared towards removing the frustration of making plans with friends by using one unified platform. Founded this year by Matt O’Leary and Aron Jones, the inspiration for their company came, O’Leary says, when he and a group of co-workers who lived around Toronto had to meet regularly, but always “found it a pain in the ass to spontaneously invite everyone to a quick lunch, coffee, or after-work drink”—but didn’t want to broadcast it to the world, and didn’t want to be tied to a laptop to know who was or wasn’t going to be attending. The idea of a mobile application was born, and, last Wednesday evening at the November Sproutup, a monthly gathering for Toronto startups and entrepreneurs curated by Sprouter, they launched their service.
Connectsy is a service that aims to make it easy to get together with your friends on short notice. And while there are some services already in existence designed to share plans (Plancast, anyone?), those services are best at letting people know what you’ll be up to far in advance. Where O’Leary and Jones’ application really differentiates itself is in the area of push notifications—messages sent to your phone by an application, instead of a mobile device user—which allows your followers to have a conversation around the plan, or indicate their interest in joining you.
Left: a user profile page. Middle: the plan details screen. Right: the new plan creation screen.
Here’s how it works: to create an event in Connectsy, you click on “Share Plans,” enter the event details, the location, and the time, and choose if you want the event to be public or private. Then, you choose who you would like to invite from the address book on your mobile device—they’ll need to have the Connectsy application installed in order to receive a notification—click on “Share,” and wait for the invitees to respond.
One of the most interesting aspects of O’Leary and Jones’ offering is the mobile platform they’ve decided to deploy on first. Most startups who develop a mobile touchpoint usually develop an application for the iPhone. Instead, O’Leary and Jones decided to develop for the Android. “Aron and I are big Google fans and Nexus One users. I’ve had every iPhone that existed including the iPhone 4,” explains O’Leary. “But once Aron imported a Nexus One, and I felt the power, I had to buy one. It boils down to us being big Google fans and only having limited resources, though it doesn’t hurt that Android market share is exploding.”
As for how they’ll make money, O’Leary says, “somewhat similar to what Foursquare and Facebook Places are doing, we plan to offer deals to our users based on their plans on Connectsy, such as ‘Bring five friends to lunch, and get a free appetizer.’ Almost like a location-based Groupon.”
Connectsy should have real value for anyone who tends to use a number of platforms to co-ordinate plans with numerous friends, but the implications Connectsy has for event organizers (of launch parties, fundraisers, and so on) are especially big. For instance, Connectsy could be used as a tool to build awareness of an event—be it a fundraiser or conference—within social media, letting organizers tap into a market of potential attendees who may not have previously been aware of the event’s existence.
One downside of Connectsy is the lack, for now, of integration into social media like Facebook or Twitter, which prevents a user from sharing event information with their friends or followers on those social networks if they wanted to—an especially big problem in Connectsy’s early days, because it means that only those who use Connectsy can be included in plans made on it. There’s also no integration with Google Maps, which prevents it from being easy for attendees to locate a designated venue for the event they’re attending. These features, O’Leary and Jones say, will be addressed in an update to the application, to be made available in the coming months.
The Android version of Connectsy is now available for download, free, from the Android Market; iPhone and Blackberry versions are slated for launch in early to mid 2011, with a full web application coming soon.
To be notified when the iPhone application becomes available, you can sign up for their notification list from the Connectsy website. You can also follow them on Twitter.