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Business

Interest networking

NO CHANCE ENCOUNTER

A new mobile application, developed by Luxembourg-based ZAP, connects total strangers who have the same interests based on their geographic location. Text: Aaron Grunwald — Photo: Olivier Minaire

Social networking is passé, says one Luxembourg entrepreneur. The next big thing is services that connect people instantly based on their geographic location and exact interests. “Interest networking” is the motivation behind Zapon, a new application available worldwide on Android and Apple devices, explains Patric de Waha, CEO of ZAP. Social networking services focus on existing connections, but do a poor job helping users meet new people, De Waha posits. Interest networking fills the gap between “total strangers that don’t want to talk with each other” and people who become friends on Facebook. Interests can be as narrow or specific as meeting singles, fly-fishing, or university students who just arrived in the autumn and will live in the same residence hall or take the same course. Users type in keywords and the system matches up people with the same interests, who are located in the same area, be it neighbourhood, city or state. A runner looking for tonight’s hotspot will get suggestions in about ten minutes, and only from other runners, de Waha says. It is fast and, “You don’t want your friends on Facebook to know everything you’re doing.”

Patric De Waha: how to meet the right people

“ We started developing one year ago, so we’re ahead”

Market opportunity Interest networking “will be the next gold mine,” de Waha believes. “It’s the right time to go to the market, because people are getting tired of social networking,” he says. “You see in the US, for instance, people don’t use Facebook as often as before.” Zapon faces competition from a small number of rivals, which also use geo-

Patric de Waha

graphic location to connect people, but tend to focus on more specific interests. These include the UK-based dating apps Blendr and Grindr, and India’s GeoSocials, which is game-oriented. “We started developing one year ago, so we’re ahead,” states de Waha. He co-founded Zap.lu, originally launched as a “side project,” in 2000. De Waha and his partners founded ZAP SA in 2007 to commer-

cialise the social networking site, which he says now has 80 percent marketshare in Luxembourg. Development of Zapon has been funded by Zap.lu’s profits and an additional round of investment by shareholders. Zapon will eventually feature “targeted” advertising. “The thing about social networks is they’re hard to monetise. But on the interest network that we have here, it is way easier. People are coming to your application and they are telling you what they’re interested in. Usually interests [involve] products or services too.” De Waha plans to approach investors for another round of fundraising “ before the end of the year” in order to accelerate the firm’s growth. He then aims to have three to four million users within three years’ time. “These are numbers that have been reached by successful mobile projects.”

44 - delano - October 2011

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23.09.2011 10:36:20 Uhr

Delano October 2011  

Delano Magazine October 2011

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