Futurespace Magazine talks Sanchita Saha CEO of Uberlife, a new social app aiming to revolutionise the way we organise our busy offline lives.
After being part of the online social networking world for five years, Uberlife founder and CEO Sanchita Saha said she saw there was still a gap in the market for another free social network. Saha felt there was room for an app or community for people to reach out to their established network of friends, with an aim to activate our social network offline as easily and frequently as we talk to each other online.
This is how Uberlife works: you create a virtual ‘hangout’ with a place and a time and then you broadcast the event from platforms such as facebook and twitter, essentially saying “I’m here come join” to your friends, your friend’s network. If people are free they can come long, if they’re not, they can simply ignore it.
Uberlife means you don’t need to bother with emails or texts back and fourth to arrange a rendez-vous with a friend or the whole gang. The new social media app aims to make socialising much more spontaneous, arranging a last minute gig for example, or a quick beer after work, Saha told Futurespace Magazine.
“That’s the essence of Uberlife really, to quickly get a group of people to hang out with, wherever you are or wherever you want to go,” she says.
“You don’t have that whole rejection thing with facebook events. You can get demoralised and forget about it. There’s no ‘yes’ ‘no’ ‘maybe’, it’s just if you see it and you’re up for it. Uberlife is much more instant – it’s about taking that event and demonstrating it while you’re there and having a great time.
Similarly, when people join they’re encouraged to broadcast back to their network to say “I’m going to be hanging out here too,” the idea is to introduce people you might not know directly, but you’ll know through your network.
Uberlife was launched in the US this month, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Texas after its successful launch in the UK earlier this year. Initially building up a network in Old Street, London – where the company is based - the Uberlife community is really starting to flourish in the area, “We’ve only been up and running for eight weeks now, but over 50 per cent of our users are from the US. Around 30 per cent are in the UK and the rest Europe, Asia,” she says.
“That’s the essence of Uberlife really, to quickly get a group of people to hang out with, wherever you are or wherever you want to go.”
At the same time as the US launch, the team are introducing the new version of the iPhone app, which was accepted just a few weeks ago. The app can also be used on Blackberry and Andriod phones.
Saha’s other baby, online friend-making site City Socialising which was set up in 2008, is more about reaching out to those finding it really difficult to settle in big cities such as London. This is a solution to a problem Saha says she had seen many of her friends and family grapple with over the years. However, Saha says Uberlife is much more closely aligned to her own needs because, after living in London for 18 years she has a rather big network, which can be tricky to manage when everyone’s so busy.
“Work is hard and fast-paced, when I try and organise stuff to see my friends we have to plan it two or three weeks in advance and it’s always catching people over dinner or over drinks, it’s not really doing anything.”
Although Saha originally launched Uberlife as a consumer product the industry, bands and venues have been reaching out to the tool too.
“We’ve had pop-up food stalls for example who’d usually just use twitter or facebook using Uberlife to say, “I’m here, come along!” So we’ve worked with a couple to see how we can help to drive people through their door. Also, once you’re at an event you can participate online, ‘checking in’, sharing photos and so on. People can share with their network, creating exposure and publicity.”
Uberlife event essentially works as an umbrella to capture that activity. So afterwards you can go back and look at the memory of the gig or party, getting guests to download the app and share photos that can recount the night.
According to Saha, online social networking is now reaching a maturity level, with so many social apps and social networks available. The main differentiator between Uberlife, she says, is that traditional social media networks help us connect and share moments of our lives and ‘socialise’ with our friends families online, whereas Uberlife is about making those moments happen offline.
Saha says Uberlife’s future goal is ultimately to become a household brand by this time next year. “We want active communities in most of the major, key cities in the world and we’re starting that now by recruiting ambassadors in New York and San Francisco, Beijing and Berlin.”
But it’s not just about becoming a global brand Saha says, “I want Uberlife to have a demonstrable, global impact, to be actively making thousands and thousands and thousands of people connect with each other more in the real world.”
“That’s our prime goal really, how can we may it as easy and frequent for people to meet with each other offline as it is for them to do it online. If we can go a small way to achieving that, then we’ll be happy.”