MavenSay Enjoying Sudden Popularity In Social Media-Hungry Indonesia

MavenSay, a social recommendation app, just got a surge of unplanned downloads coming from Indonesia, and its founders are moving quickly to include Southeast Asia in its expansion plans as a result.

The company’s Toronto-based co-founder, Jesse Dallal, said the two-month old app got 100,000 downloads over the past fortnight. It has a total of 130,000 downloads so far, and the sudden surge was tracked back to a power user based in Indonesia. They’re not sure which one it is, but the source of traffic points to the country, he said.

The way the app works is similar to Pinterest, in that users follow other users’ recommendations. These could cover places they’ve eaten or music they’re listening to, for example. For its launch, MavenSay roped in what it called “influencers”—featured brands to follow such as Momofuku and Refinery29.

The Indonesian user that triggered the downloads isn’t a celebrity that MavenSay had canvassed, but was clearly influential enough over his or her social network to move the downloads, said Dallal.

“It’s been an unanticipated consequence of our [social] strategy,” he said, referring to the way things get viral on these recommendation platforms where people reblog items from influencers.

“We’ve reached out to influencers in North America, but we’re also going to reach out to influencers in Asia now. We’re thinking of coming out there and talking to users to understand what the differences in culture and usage might be,” he said.

MavenSay has seven people, including its three co-founders Dallal, Mike Wagman and Bryan Friedman. The small company can’t be expected to have concrete plans for Asia yet, but seeding interest in one of the world’s fastest-growing, mobile-hungry countries may pay off eventually.

According to mobiThinking, Indonesia has 260 million mobile subscribers, although those with data connections make up just 47.6 million, or 18 percent of that.

And Indonesians have been quick to embrace social networking sites, with fierce loyalties once something sticks. Aged social network Friendster started to pivot towards Asia around 2008, when it realised that 90 percent of its user base was coming from the region. While it was, by that time, lagging behind Facebook globally, some markets like Indonesia stayed loyal to Friendster.

MavenSay has raised funding of $890,000 so far.