French-based location sharing app Zenly hopes to be the next Snapchat and co-founder Antoine Martin came onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt London to talk about how it plans to get there.
The original idea came from Foursquare check-ins but Zenly allows users to check-in and share their location with friends and family. Martin spent two to three years with ex-Google and Apple engineers perfecting the product and ensuring privacy.
The app had about 2 million downloads, mostly teen users but also some families and branded entities when we wrote about it in September. According to Martin, Zenly aims to become one of the ten most important apps — but it will obviously need to grow a lot to get there.
As with most social media platforms, the key may be with the teens. Teenagers are the biggest users, according to Martin, for the lack of privacy fears in sharing their location. Teens want to know where their friends are.
And, as Martin discovered after a year of trying to work on privacy concerns, the teens really don’t care about all that.
“Zenly is actually the best expression of grown truths, seeing what your friends are doing,” Martin said.
But what do the parents think? Martin says he’s thought of that. The very first UX/UI expected people to have very few friends and allowed the ability to share with that small handful, but now, with the growth, teens are sharing with 50 friends at a time. So Zenly says parents are now able to see who their teen is sharing their location with to keep them safe.
Peter Fenton from Benchmark and a prominent investor in social media apps joined the board during the startup’s last round of funding in September. But it’s a crowded field and Martin said he didn’t take as much money as he was offered for that reason — he didn’t want to hamper progress by taking more than was necessary.
But with $30 million raised so far, Martin said he was confident he had the money to grow the business and hire more team members.
So what’s the growth strategy? “We realize when we reach a certain tipping point, a penetration of maybe twenty, twenty-five percent we see we will have the rest of the school within a week,” Martin said.
Zenly will also likely spend a little cash for marketing efforts and he was firm he believed there was still room to build a social media app in a crowded space.