“Think Tinder meets Groupon… for trains,” says Edward Byrne, co-founder and Business Director of Paystobesocial. The newly launched iOS app lets commuters in the U.K. seek out others who are planning the same train journey so they can socialise and band together to qualify for off-peak group train ticket discounts. Hence the Groupon comparison. It’s also timely given that train fares in the U.K. are set rise again.
“[We are] a tech startup that loves smart-tech but wants to encourage face-to-face social interaction. The app allows you to group with other people travelling your same train journey and gives you the opportunity to save 33 percent off your ticket price there and then through the National Rail GroupSave discount of 3-9 people. So being social to get rewarded!” explains Byrne.
In other words, the initial draw is the opportunity to form a flash mob — my words not Byrne’s — to essentially game the existing group discount offered through National Rail, but there are also commonalties with other online-to-offline social or dating apps.
The Paystobesocial app begins by asking you to enter the itinerary of your potential train journey and then matches you to others who have similar plans. Once three or more people are matched, group chat is unlocked. You can also browse future and past groups. Of course you are also asked to fill out a profile, including indicating your relationship status. That’s where the Tinder comparison comes into play.
“We are first to market with our Tinder meets Groupon model,” says Byrne. “[Our] closest competitor I would say is Maaxi [the group finder taxi app], but again we are very different as we provide the benefit of a social hub… with the added bonus of trying to save money on off-peak train tickets by simply grouping up with others”.
Asked how Paystobesocial plans to make money, Byrne says the U.K. startup will take a small cut of any saving a user makes if they successfully match up with enough people to secure a group train ticket discount. However, given the plethora of restrictions that National Rail places on its GroupSave offering, I can see the young company having to find other avenues to monetisation, should the social aspect of the app take off.