When André Teow came back to Malaysia after living abroad for 12 years, he made a personal effort to attend different events across the city. However, with so many events to go to, there were some he would miss out on.
Since his purpose was to meet more people, he used apps such as Tinder in an attempt to discover different ways of socialising.
But then he noticed how online-to-offline meetups weren’t happening as frequently as he wanted them to. After asking around, he gathered two responses on why this was the case. Firstly was how there was no urgency to meet up and the second is that there are no incentives to do so.
So with his co-founder, Nnabuike Precious, he decided to take all those elements and more to create Ditto.
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Just When You Need A Friend
Ditto is essentially a mobile app that allows people to do social activities on-demand. The catch is that there are incentives in the form of cash bonuses for online-to-offline meetups. In around 10 minutes, users should be able to find an activity partner according to the request they make on the app.
“Most social apps are essentially inefficient text messaging platforms, and it takes a lot of effort to find a real connection. There are no real incentives to meet up, only a small percentage of people actually meet for an activity in real life. This is where Ditto comes in,” said André.
The platform runs on a consent basis so interaction would be only done if both parties mutually agree to the plans, with more power given to the planner. Should the planner not feel comfortable with the person who has responded, they have every right to ignore the response.
If planners find that people aren’t biting their bait, the option to place a tip is offered where the selected accepter would get a share out of it as a bonus. The tips can then be accumulated and converted to cash bonuses.
The range of activities offered on the platform is endless, from getting a simple cup of coffee at a nearby café to calling for help in an awkward situation. Of course, they could always call a friend, or post to an online chat group. However, this gives users an alternative to sitting alone at some meeting point, or just provides an opportuity to make a new friend.
How The App Works
When users launch the app, they get to input an activity plan and where they want to meet (or there is the option to choose from a list of Ditto partner outlets). The activity plans will then be shared to nearby Ditto users and expires in 10 minutes. Accepters who accept a plan with a tip added to it will earn ditto credits that can then eventually be cashed out into real cash. Users may also accumulate Ditto credits by making purchases at selected Ditto partner outlets.
Users can only use a Facebook account to register. All users must have a valid credit or debit card in order to engage in tipped requests. The minimum amount for a tip is RM25, which is about the price for a meal. All tips are inclusive of GST.
As there is no ability to “search” for users, your profile will not be shown until you choose to say yes to a an activity request. There are no profiles to swipe, there are no buttons to search.
“It is recommended that you cancel the plan if you need to reschedule. And request again when you are ready. Otherwise you could always reschedule with the person in-app and bring the interaction offline,” said André.
Improvements For The Future
On the potential for scale, André added, “Our focus is very much on bringing people together for social activities, like getting a cup of coffee or go for yoga in the park.
However when running the beta, we noticed that people were putting in all sort of other requests: Like one person needed someone to come fix her bike urgently, another one was looking for a personal trainer.
Unsurprisingly, 80% of our requests are food and beverage related. Ditto users already have the intention, and the next question naturally is where to? As such, we have established marketing partnerships to drive users to popular cafes, bars, and restaurants across KL.”
The frustration of having someone bail on you last minute is real, I’ve been there too. So the idea of an app that could help fill in the void of a last-minute back out alongside getting the opportunity to meet new people is engaging.
However, I do feel the incentive is not strong enough to pull me into using the app frequently. I like the idea of new friendships being formed from having a little bonding session over a leisure activity, but the 10 minute expiry time might not work for people who can’t handle too much spontaneity.
Of course, it was essentially designed for last-minute meetups, so if I ever were in that situation, I would definitely pull it out and use it. After all, who wants to end up sitting alone somewhere when you had been prepared to go out and have fun with friends?
Feature Image Credit: Ditto