The location sharing app, developed by Taipei and San Francisco-based Greenhouse Apps, is the latest entrant in a very busy space and is up against some formidable competition, including Glympse (which recently disclosed new funding of $12 million, bringing its total to $20 million), Facebook’s Nearby Friends, Apple’s Find My Friends, and Foursquare’s Swarm. But Jink’s simplicity and some ingenious features help it stand out.
One of Greenhouse‘s goals was to make using Jink as easy as texting or calling someone.
Like a messaging app, the only thing you need to do to sign up for Jink is to give it your mobile number so it can text you a code to start a private profile. You can then choose to give it access to your phone’s contacts, or just enter people’s numbers each time you use it.
On Jink’s map, you and the person you are sharing your location with show up as geotags (you don’t need to enter an address) as you move toward one another. You can send messages back-and-forth, which are overlaid on the maps as bubbles so you don’t have to switch windows.
Once the two of you meet up, Jink automatically switches off to save your phone’s battery power. This feature is one of Jink’s key differentiators from other location sharing apps. For example, Glympse and Facebook’s Nearby Friends share your location for a pre-determined amount of time (or until you turn location sharing off).
When Greenhouse’s team, which includes co-founders Andy Lin, Wayne Chuang, and Brett Memsic, started working on the app last year, they “looked at the competitive landscape and saw that other apps were a little too complicated for what we wanted to do,” says Lin. “Our grand vision is to create a location sharing app that is going to be ubiquitous and super-easy, as easy as texting or calling.”
In addition to turning off as soon as you meet, Jink also has other privacy-saving features, like the automatic pausing and expiration of location sharing if a meetup doesn’t occur. For groups, the person who started the Jink can see everyone, but each member of the group can’t see each other.
The challenge is getting friends to sign up for it, since Jink’s competitors are well-known. The app has already gained traction by being featured in Apple’s App Store. Its developers also made it easy for users to get their friends to sign up for it by sending them a text to a download link for the app.
Lin says Greenhouse is looking at ways to make the onboarding process even faster: “Within 10 seconds you can get a Jink going. We’ve done a decent job but we can still do better.”
Future plans for the app include improving Jink’s backend so it works faster and focusing on Jink’s messaging feature. Greenhouse is prioritizing product and user growth at this stage but cited selling stickers for Jink profiles or integrating location-based advertising or logistics as potential ideas for monetization. The startup has raised $300,000 in seed funding and is currently looking for its Series A.