A Tinder for Finding Help and a Snapchat for Location: Two Cool Ways to Connect

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How do you find people you know?

Mobile and web applications are changing the way we find and connect to people who matter to us, and two Toronto-based startups have built great products to bring you closer to your world.

Volley helps you connect to people through short, actionable requests, while Spotd helps you find your friends and share what you are up to. I’ve used both, and they’ve helped me reconnect with people based on similar interests or for a quick chat.

I’ve been an avid user of Volley for about six months now. The invite-only service has been an amazing catalyst for great interaction with other people interested in similar things from all over the world. So far I’ve spoken with people from France, New York and California who either wanted help with something or came to my assistance. I’ve made new friends, provided assistance for people who needed advice, and received feedback from some of the smartest people I’ve met this past year.

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The user gets a deck of Volley Cards with requests based on who they’re connected to on the service, building a graph of their social connections based on their Google social graph (people with whom they’ve exchanged emails that are also registered for the service). Users can either reply, “Volley”, or pass on each request until they’ve cleared your deck.

Volley is trying to find a way to connect you to the people that you may not know in your network who can help.

What’s so special about Volley is that the community of people who use it are enthusiastic to help, and reach out when they need to find the right person to solve a need. It has been interesting to see it evolve from an email newsletter featuring requests from people in Toronto looking for the right person to help them with a project. Today it’s a fun experience that reminds me of Tinder for finding and providing help.

You can join the service by requesting an invite and telling the Volley team how you believe you can help their community. Or you can be invited to the service by a friend who is already a part of the community.

As a social experiment it has proven to be a massive success, but as a startup it will be interesting to see where it goes. There is a bit of competition with My Allies, which is quite similar both in what it does at how it looks. It’s clear that Volley is adding a ton of value for users, but how the company is going to capture that value is the biggest question.

Spotd is a new location-based social application that lets users see where their friends are, but only if they both agree to share their location. Unlike other location-based apps that share actions with all of a users’ friends and stalkers, Spotd lets the user choose who they want to see, and who can see them.

Requests to see someone’s Spot expire if they don’t respond. Once connected on a spot, users’ locations are shared with each other and you can jump into a chat to discuss meeting up. The chat disappears after your Spots have expired. In other words Spotd is kind of like Snapchat for location.

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Using Spotd has been fun for me and I’ve had quick chats and met up with a lot of people I haven’t been in touch with in a while. Unlike scrolling through your phone book it allows you to quickly ping multiple friends and connect to them easily.

Recently a similar application, Ahoy, was posted to Product Hunt. Ahoy is a playful way to tell friends where you are, and it seems to have legs. Private location-based sharing is definitely going to be an interesting market as it continues to mature. If other categories have proven anything it ‘s that there’s definitely more space for anonymity and privacy in our social interactions.

Where Spotd has a chance to really win in this market is providing a sophistication that appeals to urban early adopters more so than just 16-year-olds. Spotd provides real value for users helping them connect with each other in a unique capacity.

David King

David King

David King is creator at Generate Creative, a branding and strategy agency in Toronto.