Yak away to the world

Sep 25, 2012, 12:09 IST | Soma Das

Set up by two US-based Indians, LoYakk is a three-month old award-winning social platform that helps people communicate based on shared experiences and location, in contrast to other mobile apps that focus on conversations with friends and followers

The next time you are glued to a cricket or a football match, watching a music concert or planning to visit a remote town, mobile application LoYakk will enable you get the dope by chatting with fans attending the event or residents living in that part of the globe.

LoYakk (short for local yakking or talking) enables casual conversations anywhere around the world based on location without the constraints of prior social connection. Locations could range from colleges to stadiums, towns or airports.

LoYakk helps you communicate with people based on location

LoYakk users can virtually go to any venue anywhere in the world and converse with people. They don’t have to check-in or register as the app auto-detects the user’s nearest venue. The app was founded three months back by Jitu Telang and Salim Ali, who are originally from Mumbai. Austin-based Telang has built data mining and enterprise applications while Silicon Valley resident, Ali was involved in community and social marketing and has worked on start-ups. They had a team of five people that created LoYakk and the team has now grown to over 15.

A screen grab of LoYakk

Speaking about LoYakk, Telang said, “LoYakk’s vision is to enable casual conversations with people around us who are sharing the same experience without prior friendships or connections. Suppose you are at a cricket game you can not just chat up with the fan sitting next to you but can also converse with fans anywhere in the stadium or even chat with fans attending an actual football match that you are watching on TV.

If you are at an airport, don’t limit your ‘Want to share a taxi?’ question to the person next to you in Terminal 1 but publish this to anyone at the airport. It’s about re-imagining how we participate in social communities around our location through the lens of our real-life nomadic behaviour in a world that goes beyond friends. LoYakk makes places the center of gravity.”

LoYakk was conceptualised in mid-2011 when Telang and Ali were trying to solve a problem related to local commerce. To understand consumer behaviour, they tried to understand how real-life social behaviour mapped online social behaviour. “As we went through the behavioral analysis, we came away with an interesting finding: Our real-life interactions with people around were more prolific and frequent than with our friends. These interactions were driven by the location where we were and shared experiences. This is completely under-served by today’s social offerings which are strongly tied to our known network of friends and followers,” explained Ali.

While their initial target audience included younger, socially-tuned people in colleges and towns, over the long term they are expecting LoYakk to help anyone and everyone with a smartphone. The app has already won two awards — Gold Medal at the Race for Apps contest for London Olympic Games 2012 and the Most Useable App at Race for Apps contest. They are available in countries where English is used as the medium for communication.

The app is currently available for free on Blackberry, iPhone and Android phones. Users can also do all of this via the Internet post registration. Spam and abusive posts are monitored as well.

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