Ever wondered what the person sitting opposite you on the train is thinking? Now you can find out thanks to a quirky new iPhone app that brings yet another dimension to social networking.
Echoer, the brainchild of entrepreneurs Daniel Cowen (left), Davin Sufer and their Israeli tech team, enables you to see what people are thinking and experiencing in the places around them. Users post their thoughts, aka “echoes”, on a map and can see those posted by others, be it restaurant reviews, jokes, local tips, business and event information, or general rants.
The app, which is free to download, lets users make real-time contributions by either adding a personal thought or amplifying others. Popular echoes appear more prominent, moving up the screen and those that people do not agree with get smaller and move down the screen.
Launched in April it received around 16,000 downloads in its first weekend. It won the 2011 Google People’s Choice award at LeWeb’s start-up competition.
Mr Sufer (right), 33, explains how the idea came about. “I travel a lot and was boarding a plane one day. The staff were really rude and I thought: ‘They are probably being rude to all the passengers but no one is doing anything about it.’ We have all these social networking tools but not really one where you can see what others are thinking.”
What about Twitter updates and Facebook statuses? “With Twitter you have to be ‘following’ someone to see their posts and you need to be on someone’s Facebook network to view their updates,” points out Mr Cowen, 31. “Echoer is a real-time, location-specific way of seeing the thoughts of those who are not necessarily in your network.”
Echoer is the duo’s second venture. They teamed up on pervious app Last Night Never Happened (LNNH), released last year.
The business partners met in Hong Kong. London-born Mr Cowen, a graduate of Oxford University, was working as a corporate lawyer for Slaughter and May, while US-born Mr Sufer worked at WowWee, a developer, marketer and distributor of high-tech consumer robotic and entertainment products. They co-founded Echo Labs to pursue their entrepreneurial desires and are particularly excited about Echoer. “We didn’t expect the kind of response that is has had. People are using it the way we hoped they would and we are really excited.”
As for monetising the application, there are several avenues including targeted advertising, the selling of data and enabling venues and event organisers to promote their own space through customisation. Currently available on the iPhone and iPad, it is soon to be realeased on other platforms. “We love bringing cool ideas to life,” says Mr Cowen.