onLoop co-founders AK Sands and Jacob Heinz have a love-hate relationship with football.
More specifically, Sands loves the sport; Heinz is not a fan. Amongst their group of friends, Sundays always involved eight hours of group texts back and forth — and Heinz was on all those texts.
Although Sands would include his then-business partner Heinz ‘on the loop’ of texts going out, he also knew there had to be a better way for people with shared interests to communicate.
The two jumped to their next venture, creating an app that connects people around their shared interests.
Goodbye group texts
onLoop launched at SXSW 2015, making it just a couple weeks out of beta. With over 800 downloads since and users spending 25 minutes per person, per session on the app, it would appear this savvy, self-funded duo are on to something big.
Just how big is the inevitable question.
David vs a pack of Goliaths
When asked who Sands sees as the competition for this budding social network, he replied, “[a]ll social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yik Yak, Snapchat, Pinterest. But onLoop is inherently different from the ground up. That’s why we’ll succeed.”
According to Sands, onLoop facilitates friendships the way we actually make friends IRL (In Real Life) by building groups, or Loops, around shared interests. How many Facebook friends would you actually hang out with? "The key differentiator is that [we] facilitate you finding people and engaging with them in a way that very much mimics the real world.”
This includes being a multimedia app that supports photo, audio, video and text. There is also something else that differentiates these two from others in the app space. It’s not just that, as Sands explained, he’s in his early forties, has a family and is in bed by 10:30 p.m. The co-founders are not programmers building an app; they are successful marketers connecting people by building a piece of functional technology to do so.
And the app is super simple to use.
We’re all Loopers now
You download the free app, sign up and start searching different Loops. If you’re interested in a particular topic, join the loop and you’re in the conversation. Like what someone in particular is saying? Drag their icon up to the top right corner and create a subLoop for just the two of you to talk.
Ever send a text or an email you wish you could take back? Wipe it clean off the recipient’s computer? onLoop has a feature that allows you to delete a message that disappears from everyone’s device involved in the loop. Loops are generally organized by topic, but the app also lets you plug in to proximity loops based on geographic location to see what’s being talked about around you.
Now the big question for any social media platform … just how will onLoop bring in revenue? “Wait, this thing has to make money?” chided Sands.
First, his team of 15 employees will work on rolling out in-app purchases like stickers, gifs and sound packs. Once there is a sufficient user base, they’ll begin implementing an advertising model that includes contextual, demographic and geo-targeted ads.
Then, they’ll get to the B2B side of things, which has some very interesting implications if Sands and Heinz successfully implement their vision. While Facebook and Snapchat are obvious competitors on the consumer side, onLoop sees an opening to compete with the likes of Disqus for website commenting. Traditionally a flat space limited to text, onLoop’s version will be multimedia — photo, audio, video comments — and multidimensional, with comments added to relevant loops within the app.
For now, onLoop is focused on perfecting the user experience and growing the audience after weekly iteration and feedback implementation during the beta phase.
Who knows, by this time next year, we might all be Loopers.
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