“Why You Bo Jio!”
If you’re a Singaporean, you would know that this can be one of the most annoying things anyone can say to you. The act of ‘jio’-ing (a hokkien saying for inviting some out) can be cumbersome, especially for large groups. I’ve personally been in WhatsApp chats with 20 people trying to organize an outing, only to give up halfway because it’s just too tiring.
We spoke to Chan Weitian, a final year student in SMU who heads JIO’s business development, social marketing and iOS development. When asked what value JIO brings to Singaporeans, Weitian immediately said that Singaporeans need to get out and have more fun, and the hassle of organizing shouldn’t deter that.
“Singaporeans are a pretty stressed out bunch! We all enjoy a good catch-up session or outing with our friends, but with all the stress that we face at work and at school, not many of us are willing to use up the limited free time we have to plan outings, contact people and coordinate schedules,” says Weitian. “In a way, it is a ‘saikang’ job (an excessively tedious job). JIO aims to take away this barrier and this notion that organising events is tedious and tough.”
The idea was conceived at Nam Nam noodle bar, just after the three students finished summer school in SMU. According to Weitian, the idea behind the name came first.
“We were coming out with inspirations for a Singaporean version of YO. Terms such as ‘La’, ‘Loh’ came out. But none made much sense, till ‘JIO’ came out,” said Weitian. “It was then, that we thought of JIO being a way for Singaporeans to ‘JIO’ each other out for events.”
YO is an app that went viral in July, attracting users for its ultra-simplistic social capabilities (like an app dedicated to just ‘poking’ friends). While sporting a similar two-toned look, JIO also attempted to keep the same simplicity, while adding an actual functionality to it.
How Do You JIO?
The process is simple. All you need to do is download the JIO app, and tap ‘Start a JIO!’. You’ll be presented with a stylish looking invitation card that prompts you to key in the When, Where, and Who of the event. If your invited friends have JIO, they will be sent a swanky invitation, complete with colour customization; if not, they will be sent a preppy SMS with two URL links. Your friends only need to tap ‘Steady?’ to accept the invitation, or ‘CMI’ (Cannot Make It) to decline.
The organizer only has to access the JIO app to see who has accepted and declined the invitation.
The Complexities of JIOing
I downloaded the JIO app to try out, and I have to say I was blown over by how easy it is to use the app. Not having a convenient large group event to organize, I took the easy route and invited a friend over for dinner. The invitation was sent out within a minute, and a reply sent back within the next 5 minutes.
Of course, my friend promptly asked me through WhatsApp why I didn’t just text him. When I explained the app, he simply refuted with: “What’s wrong with WhatsApp?” Clearly, the app works well, but there is clearly no need for it when dealing with small groups. If you’re a stickler for personalised invitations, this probably wouldn’t meet your affectionate needs either.
Going back to that 20-person WhatsApp chat: it would have definitely helped out a lot if I were expecting a simple yes/no response. If I had to run details through these 20 people, I may have to resort to a Facebook event page, which allows for updates, polls, or detailed responses to why someone can’t attend the event.
Then again, the app is able to get rid of the unnecessary noise of organizing outings that other channels have, simply because it doesn’t have that feedback outlet. In the hands of a decisive organizer, invitations are absolutely fuss-free, especially if you don’t need to deal with those pesky ‘maybes’ from Facebook events. There is no maybe, people, only yes or no.
It’s also nice that JIO’s functionalities isn’t exclusive to only JIO users, the way other social media channels are. As long as your friends have a phone with an internet connection, they can join in the fun without the fuss, making it a great tool for serial party planners. Facebook-less dinosaurs get to join in the fun as well. Weitian even described the app as ‘idiot-proof’, truly making it inclusive to everyone.
Since I have ample space in my phone to play with several new apps, I think I’ll be keeping JIO around in case I get into a party-planning mood. But until then, I don’t foresee myself using the app that much, and will be stick to my usual messaging apps to gather friends for intimate gatherings.
Ultimately, it’s a great tool for party-planners out there. It would be interesting to see more customization options in the SMSes, because the classier ones out of us may prefer saying something other than “STEADY AH”.
In the end, you can’t fault JIO for wanting to help Singapore have a good time. “Through this simple but handy tool, we hope that Singaporeans will enjoy more gatherings and social time, thus making our Singaporean culture more happy and more vibrant.”