Get to know a Toronto startup: Spot
Are you a university student looking for a nearby study group, an extra player for pick up basketball, or a social event in your dorm on a Friday night? Soon you'll be able to look to Toronto startup Spot to hook you up.
Spot is a free, location-based platform for communicating what's happening in and around your University campus. Once you've created a profile, you can tag any location as a "Spot". Maybe it's a cafe, a park bench, the location of your weekly study group or your dining hall - you can make any Spot public or private.
Creating a Spot activates a discussion board where members can post information and interact with each other, creating a live feed tied to that precise location. Connect to any Spot located on your campus when you're within 500 metres, and you'll always be connected to nearby campus micro-communities around you.
This Toronto startup, founded by Christy Luo and Urban Lee, is currently available for iOS and Android, but still considers itself in soft-launch stage. The company is running pilots with three Ontario universities - Western, Waterloo and Queens - starting in September 2014 that will further inform the evolution of the app. Co-founder Christy gave me a quick tour of what her startup is all about.
What's the vision behind Spot?
Our vision is to build intelligent micro-communities, online communities of under 100 people, to facilitate interaction. We were inspired by the idea of the "internet of places" starting with school dorms. Using Spot, places and spaces are intelligent, information is open, your location is your community. We want to make everyone who already lives and plays close to each other even closer.
How do you make money?
Spot is currently a free app and our current focus is customer acquisition. We have plans to monetize, but we're looking to reach a critical mass of users first.
Who do you consider your competitors?
The current alternatives are Foursquare and Reddit, but we take the best of an open forum and make it hyperlocational. We aim to make the digital age more friendly by creating micro-communities where people physically are, like student residences, events, condominiums. No emails, no need to add "friends", no need to be "invited to join", just turn on the app and you are already a part of the discussion all around you.
What's next for Spot?
We are piloting at some large-scale events as the official communication platform that will add a social media element to event goers. Spot being will be broadcasting announcements from event organizers to attendees, it will also bring live location-based AskMeAnythings (akin to Reddit) for local performers. You will also see other features like real-time scavenger hunts. Come September 2014, when we launch at Western, Waterloo and Queens, our goal is to become the new standard for community chat in student residences.